Cathedral Hill Montessori School is pleased to announce the opening of Children’s House II in September 2012. We are currently accepting new students ages 2.5 to 3.5 years old. The class will be led by one AMI-trained Montessori guide and one assistant guide. Please visit our Admissions page for more information on how to apply!
The Children’s House, as the name implies, is a space wholly dedicated to the needs of the children, ages 3 to 6. Generally, children enter the Children’s House between 2 and a half and 3 years of age, and remain through their kindergarten year. Dr. Montessori carefully designed materials and an environment specifically for a mixed-age preschool classroom that nurtures children’s need to explore the world, care for themselves, and learn! At Cathedral Hill Montessori School, we pride ourselves in providing that environment, as well as staff who are extensively trained in the preparation of the environment and use of the Montessori materials.
We refer to the adult in the Children’s House as a “guide,” as in guiding the children on a path of discovery. The guide works primarily on an individual or small group basis. Each child has uniques skills and challenges and it is the guide’s job to observe what those may be and how to best serve his or her needs and interests.
In a Montessori classroom, the children move freely about the room making independent choices as to what activities they will engage, where they would like to work, and who, if anyone, they would like to work by. The materials and activities are designed to be independently used by the child. Once introduced to an activity, the child is free to take the work out on his own and repeat it as many times as he’d like. The guide will always keep a watchful eye to be sure the material is used appropriately and successfully, as well as offer further lessons on the area of interest.
The Children’s House is divided into 4 different areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, and Math.
When observing a Montessori classroom, you may see a child preparing herself a snack of sliced banana. Another carefully trimming and watering the plants. Two children working side by side, sewing buttons and practicing polishing glass objects. These are all examples of exercises in Practical Life. The materials are designed to give children the opportunity to care for themselves, others, the Children’s House, and beyond! Children are given the responsibility and respect to be an active part of their community. In addition, these activities help to develop their power of concentration and refine their motor skills through repetition and freedom of choice.
Children at this age absorb the world through their senses, touching things as they pass by, smelling flowers, and trying all different ways to taste! Dr. Montessori observed this behavior and created materials to help facilitate this sensorial need. Each sensorial material is designed to bring awareness to the many different sensorial qualities of our world. All 9 senses are represented (with the exception being the sense of pain, for obvious reasons): Vision, hearing, smelling, tasting, sense of touch, kinesthetic (muscular) sense, stereognostic (feeling and kinesthetic) sense, sense of temperature, and baric (sense of weight). Each is isolated into different materials such as the pink tower, smelling bottles, sound cylinders, baric tablets, and stereognostic bags. The child is able to explore, learn new language, and identify these qualities in the greater world.
Language is everywhere in the Children’s House. All the materials offer an opportunity for building vocabulary, whether it be naming objects in the environment, looking at language cards, such as flags from around the world, or studying the life cycle of a butterfly. The sounds and symbols of our language are introduced with sandpaper letters, providing a multi-sensorial learning experience, and shortly thereafter, children begin writing using the moveable alphabet. From there, the child explodes into the world of writing and reading. One child might be making a book of different animals, labeling each illustration, while another might be researching different phonograms, identifying the sound /sh/ in a book. You might be surprised to know that our third-year children are introduced the concept of the parts of speech and different word studies, such as compound words and homophones.
Dr. Montessori observed the preschool-age child’s natural ability to understand and strengthen her mathematical abilities. She designed activities which isolate the different mathematical concepts and allow the child to explore them through the use of concrete materials. Children develop a deeply sensorial understanding of quantity, associate names and symbols with ease, work with large numbers from one hundred to one million, and start on the path of memorization and even long division. Parents are often surprised by the genuine fun their child has working with the golden beads and finding the product of 3642 multiplied by 3! The beauty and simplicity of the materials, invitations to work in a group, and the many opportunities for discovery make the math area a truly fun place to be!