The Children’s House Community
The Children’s House classes are designed for children ages 3-6 years and are divided into six curricular areas. Each child moves freely between these areas working on materials and concepts that call to him. As the child goes about his work, he is constantly exposed to other students doing different and often more challenging work, which in turn challenges him to make different decisions.
The teacher guides each child individually. Conflict Resolution is modeled by the adults in the environment through the use of respectful words and, the search for mutually acceptable solutions. Children are given many opportunities to practice this peaceful problem solving.
The final year in the Children’s House, also known as the Kindergarten year, is by far the most important year. It is the time when the child solidifies his knowledge and begins to move towards an abstract understanding of what he has been working on for two years. During this year, the child has the opportunity to be a mentor to the younger students and to show how his leadership skills have grown. He is also given more formal lessons that are designed for just the Kindergarten students and he can begin to work on higher level math and language. Check out this video from the American Montessori Society on the importance of the Kindergarten Year.
The Practical Life area of the classroom calls to the youngest child and assists them in developing coordination, concentration, order and independence. He learns to choose an activity, stay with it to its completion, and then replace it for the next child to use. These activities change often, calling the child back to this area for additional practice as needed.
The Sensorial area assists the child in developing his understanding of the world as the child uses all senses for learning. Each specifically designed material helps the child make sense of and learn to name the elements that make up his world. Works developing the concepts of size, color, shape, length, smell, sound and taste are available in this area.
In Math the child learns to count and recognize numerals. Later he masters the basics of the decimal system and extends his linear counting. Through manipulative materials the child masters not only the method of working problems, but the true meaning of numbers as well. He learns the basic concepts of all four operations, and begins to memorize these crucial facts. He extends his work to the practical side of math, time, money, fractions and measurement.
In Language, the child works to prepare his eyes, ears and hands for the process of learning to read and write. Utilizing a phonetic approach, the Montessori classroom teaches letters, sounds, spelling and reading. Children progress from single words to sentences and phonetically regular readers. Later they examine and master phonogram combinations such as “ai” and “sh” which are then incorporated into their reading and writing work.
The Cultural area encompasses Geography, History, Art and Music. Children have experiences with “hands on” globes and puzzle maps that help break down the world into understandable sections. They learn about different cultures, the physical characteristics of the earth, appropriate historical perspectives and man’s rich artistic contributions.
In Science a child learns to observe, experiment and classify. Physical science, zoology and botany are all explored. The children begin to see the order in their world.