The Children’s House environment is designed to address a full complement of social, emotional, physical and cognitive needs of the developing child. A large portion of the day is spent in individual work. The teacher acts as a guide, noting where a child may be struggling, practicing and gaining mastery, seeking to present new lessons and challenges to keep them actively engaged throughout their development. Typically, the first year child focuses heavily on working independent of others, and over time, as part of the process of growth and development, begins to demonstrate an interest in establishing social connections with the community. The five major curriculum areas are Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, Language, and Culture. The directress continually adds materials to address student needs as well as providing those of seasonal interest.
Just as your child wants to pattern what you do at home, the classroom is designed to encourage this natural curiosity. These activities provide opportunities to practice caring for the classroom environment by scrubbing a table or watering plants, caring for ourselves through learning to button clothes, polish shoes, or washing our hands to prepare a snack then use our table manners as we enjoy eating it with a friend. The practical life materials help to develop the analytical mind, often requiring the child to think through a series of steps in a particular sequence for successful completion. Practical life activities promote development of a sense of order, the ability to concentrate, independence and establishing a spirit of helpfulness. These activities directly and indirectly foster fine and gross motor development as well as hand eye coordination.
Children take in the world around them through all their senses. Unique to the Montessori curriculum, these multisensory materials focus on developing the students perceptions of the world through refinement of all their senses for learning: visual, tactile, baric, stereoscopic, kinesthetic, auditory, olfactory and taste. Starting with simple delineation, the materials gradually become more complex. The language of differentiation and gradation are utilized, such as small, smaller, smallest, longer, shorter, heavier, heaviest, sour, salty, as well as colors, shapes, and geometric solids.
The lure of the beautiful Montessori mathematical materials call to the child as much as their desire to master activities that require counting prowess, such as setting out just the right number of items for snack. Use of manipulative materials enables the child to understand patterns, internalize concepts of number quantity and their symbol as well as magnitude and sequence. Children explore beginning operations and memorization of basic math facts as they start the journey from concrete quantity to an abstract understanding of numbers.
Everything has a name and identifying “things” is how a child first connects with the world. The pervasive nature of language is inherent in all aspects of the Montessori classroom from new and interesting foods tasted at snack to names of musical instruments or the parts of a flower. Understanding the construction of language begins with patterns and sequencing, moving on to the sounds produced by their associated letters. As the children master a number of sounds, they learn to sound out three letter short vowel phonetic words and begin building them with the moveable alphabet of cut-out letters. Progressively, they move to blends, diphthongs, digraphs, long vowels and sight words, as they are ready. Phonemic awareness activities like rhyming, beginning sound substitution or clapping syllable segmentation help build reading skills. Opportunities to listen to stories and share experiences build oral language skills as children learn to express meaning to get their point across. Hanging out in the book corner to read or browse through a beautifully illustrated picture book can be just the thing to get your imagination going or to have a quiet reprieve from a busy morning. Materials for strengthening the hand and correct prehensile grip lead to practicing writing letters, then words. Spanish is approached as both a second language and cultural experience.
Cultural Subjects (History, Geography, Sciences, Music)
Children’s organic interest in the world around them leads to great exploration of geography, history, the physical and natural sciences, art and music. There are puzzle maps to explore the world, with a separate one for each continent and the United States. Passage of time, whether throughout a year, week or day is the beginning of the study of history along with stories, artifacts and pictures to enhance the appreciation of different cultures around the world. Materials to experiment with laws of physics, like magnetism, buoyancy, displacement and beginning simple machines are available for the children to discover how things work. There is an abundance of botany and zoology materials, initiating children into the study of classification and learning the appropriate terminology. Creative expression happens naturally as children use the host of art supplies provided for painting, drawing, cutting, gluing and sculpting, often resulting in a multimedia piece. Our weekly music lessons involve singing, playing instruments and moving as we use the Orff Schulwerk method to introduce the concepts of rhythm, melody, harmony, form and expressive quality through the Orff Schulwerk method as we create music. It is common to hear the children singing snippets of songs they have learned during music as they work in the classroom or enjoy time on the playground.
Montessori classrooms focus on the education of the whole child, which includes social and emotional development. This support often begins with helping the child understand that they can make choices, such as when to have snack without asking permission to choosing their own work and inviting a friend to join them. Coming to understand that they will need to wait to use a material as well as how to find another activity until their preferred one is available are important developmental milestones. Learning conflict resolution skills with adult support allows children to respectfully work through issues. This is done by providing language, modeling and role playing as students come to identify their feelings and express their needs.
For more detailed information on specific material and skills covered within the curriculum, please review the following Curriculum Overview or please call 773.714.0646 or email for more information or to make an appointment.