Children’s House Curriculum
Children’s House, designed for children between the ages of 2 ½ and 6 years, gives the children the chance to learn from each other while they play, to practice patience and compassion, to develop thoughtful leadership skills and team playing abilities. Children’s House focuses on four concepts: practical life, sensory, language, and math.
Practical Life: These activities are the essential but ordinary tasks that we are expected to perform as adults. Skills such as caring for yourself (personal hygiene and dressing); caring for your environment (cleaning and gardening); daily tasks (cooking and making work choices); grace and courtesy (interpersonal skills, apologies, complimenting, questioning and observing); and control of movement (appropriate body language and silence) are woven into the Montessori school day. Examples of practical life materials include polishing work, pouring grain, grinding coffee, apple peeling, sweeping, and so much more. Like so many Montessori activities, most practical life materials are simultaneously developing fine motor skills that will be used later in writing.
Sensory: Unique materials such as the Pink Tower, Brown Stairs, Cylinder Blocks , Geometric Cabinet, Geometric Solids, and Color Tablets are used to help children internalize the concepts of size, shape, weight, touch, sound, color and taste and also act as a prelude to math and language. In addition, the signature hands-on Montessori materials for learning include musical instruments, tasting and smelling bottles and touch boards.
Each set of materials focuses on one physical quality of a property, which helps the child to classify and distinguish things that we perceive as abstract. Sensory materials also refine a child’s small and large muscle coordination. These sensory-focused activities help prepare children for the concepts found in academic subjects, such as math, reading and writing.
Language: Learning letters, reading, writing, phonics and vocabulary are an important part of the Children’s House curriculum. Students will learn through activities such as the Sound Game, Moveable Alphabet, Classification Cards and Sandpaper Letters.
Language activities begin with simple conversations about the animals and objects in our environment, enriching the vocabulary. Following this, children start down the path of spelling and writing by making sound and letter associations through activities like letter tracing and sound games. Then, because it is easier to write a word that you have in mind rather than to decode a word somebody else has written, the children begin writing short phonetic words with the Moveable Alphabet, progressing to creating longer words and then sounding out words others have written. As the children become fluent readers, they begin to explore the function of words in a sentence. At this point they also begin writing stories and reports, both with the small Moveable Alphabets and in their own handwriting.
Mathematics: Montessori materials first isolate aspects of number and then progress through the basic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division including fractions. Number skills such as quantities of 10, counting numerically and skip counting up to 1000, recognizing and writing numbers up to 9999, decimals and arithmetic are honed through games, counters, Golden Beads, Spindle Boxes and Number Rods. As with all Montessori curriculums, mathematical concepts and facts are taught through hands on play.
Other subjects such as geography, music, biology, art and history are intertwined in the other areas through the use of concrete materials, but also overall in all other areas of the classroom. Skills introduced include: globes, land and water formations, flags of the world, climates, life cycles, animal classifications, days of the week, timelines, family tree, movement, rhythm, drawing, painting, mixing colors and cutting simple shapes.
Children between the age of birth and six possess an “absorbent mind”. This almost genius capacity for mental absorption enables them to learn their native tongue, to perfect movement and internalise order. Maria Montessori observed that children also experience Sensitive Periods in their development. These are periods of special sensitivity when the child is attracted to certain stimuli in his or her environment allowing them to acquire certain knowledge and skills. These periods occur universally for all children at approximately the same age and provide the time for optimal development of that particular skill or knowledge.
The 3 to 6 year old child is undergoing a process of self-construction. The application of the Montessori philosophy and the specifically designed Montessori equipment aids the child’s ability to absorb knowledge and continue this path of self-construction. The Casa Dei Bambini (Children’s House) program is designed to be a three year program composed of children ages three to six years. In this setting the children naturally respect each other’s work and personal space. They take an active role in maintaining their environment, which is divided into four main areas: practical life, sensorial, language, and mathematics. The basic academic curriculum is enriched by Creative Arts, Music, Science, Geography, and Cultural Studies.