Curriculum in Children’s House (ages 3-6)
The Aspen, Maple, and Oak Communities
The Children’s House classrooms are divided into four distinct areas:
The Aspen, Maple, and Oak classrooms are carefully prepared and designed to be child-centric and to encourage independent learning and exploration for the young child under the age of six.
Dr. Maria Montessori called this plane of development “the absorbent mind,” as children take in their environment in extraordinary ways, especially through touch and manipulation. This environment respects and protects the young child with a calm, orderly space to match his need for freedom and discipline.
“The study of child psychology in the first years of life opens to our eyes such wonders that no one seeing them with understanding can fail to be deeply stirred. Our work as adults does not consist of teaching, but in helping the infant mind in its work of development.”
– Dr. Maria Montessori
The Children’s Living Room
The Montessori Children’s House is a “living room” for children. All of the furniture is child sized and all of the materials are scaled to fit the physical dimensions of a young child’s body.
Self-correcting materials are arranged invitingly on low, open shelves and children choose their work from one of four distinct areas: practical life, sensorial, mathematics, and language.
Practical Life enhances the development of task organization and cognitive order through care of self, care of environment, exercises of grace and courtesy, and coordination of physical movement.
“I can do it myself” is the motto of the young child and SVCMS fosters this independence.
There are four groups of Practical Life exercises in the Montessori classroom:
Care of person (buttoning, zipping, combing, tying, etc.)
Care of environment (cleaning, sweeping, gardening, ironing, polishing, etc.)
Development of social relations, also known as grace and courtesy (greeting, serving, accepting, thanking, etc.)
Movement (balancing, walking on the line, playing the silence game, etc.)
Sensorial Work enables the child to order, classify, and describe sensory impressions in relation to length, width, temperature, mass, color pitch, etc.
Sensorial materials isolate the different senses and lead to finer distinctions of perception and sensory awareness. Young children explore and internalize such concepts as size, shape, color, taste, and sound through this work, as well as develop other skills such as musicality, math, or language.
Tracing a sandpaper letter with his finger, a child not only sounds out the symbol, but also feels it. His hand muscles will later remember that motion as he writes the letter.
Mathematics makes use of manipulative materials to enable the child to internalize concepts of number, symbol, sequence, operations, and memorization of basic facts.
The world of numbers is introduced in concrete form through the use of manipulative materials like rods, spindles, cards, beads, cubes, and counters.
The child not only learns numbers and counting, but is introduced to all four operations and to the function of the decimal system. Like all Montessori materials, the math materials build on each other in increasing complexity, so that a child using them will experience the thrill of discovery for himself as part of a natural progression.
Language Arts includes oral language development, written expression, reading, the study of grammar, creative dramatics, and children’s literature.
Basic skills in writing and reading are developed through the use of sandpaper letters, the movable alphabet (alphabet cut-outs), and various presentations allowing children to link sounds and letter symbols effortlessly and to express their thoughts through writing.
Language work lays a concrete foundation beginning at age three through auditory games and visual perception skills. Throughout the Montessori environment, the child hears and uses precise vocabulary for all activities, including learning the names of textures, geometric shapes, composers, artists, plants, mathematical operations, etc. An enthusiasm for reading and writing is fostered through children’s literature, grammar, and oral language development.
Cultural Activities expose the child to basics in geography, history, and life sciences. Music, art, and movement education are part of the integrated cultural curriculum.
Children are exposed to many different kinds of media, including crayons, chalk, pencils, paint, clay, textiles, and a variety of papers, and also to the basics of geography, history, and life sciences. They also explore singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments as forms of self-expression.
Self, Social & Physical Development
Through daily participation in both small and large groups, an attitude of sharing, mutual trust, and cooperation is encouraged, as is a positive self-image from successful, self-corrected experiences.
Movement is constantly involved in the Montessori classroom and activities which develop body awareness and large and small motor skills are stressed.
Forming a Community
Through repeated experience with materials that captivate their attention, children develop into a community of "normalized" students working with high concentration and few interruptions.
According to Maria Montessori, normalization is the process during which a child moves from being undisciplined to self-disciplined, from disordered to ordered, and from distracted to focused through work in the environment.
In the Montessori Children’s House, academic competency is a means to an end, and the Montessori materials, called “works," are viewed as “materials for development.”
Leadership in Children’s House
During the third year in the Children’s House, the kindergarten student can not only work with these materials in more depth, thus gaining more insights from them, but, using this base, can move into the academic areas.
Once the child has established critical learning habits – concentration, self-discipline, a sense of order, persistence in completing a task, creative self-expression, and a love for learning – the student has the opportunity to assume leadership within the classroom.
All preparations for later academic work are reinforced in the kindergarten year.
Interested in joining the St. Vrain Community Montessori School community?