Dr. Montessori dedicated her life to serving children. Years of observation and education lead her to create the Children’s House – a mixed-age environment carefully designed to nurture the child’s need to explore the world, care for themselves, and learn. At Cathedral Hill Montessori School, we are proud to provide two Children’s Houses wholly dedicated to serving children ages 3 to 6. Each class is led by an excellent staff who are extensively trained in the preparation and use of the Montessori materials.
In the Children’s House, children move freely and make independent choices as to what activities they will engage in, where they would like to work, and who, if anyone, they would like to work with. Once introduced to an activity by their guide, children are free to return to the work independently and repeat it as many times as they’d like. The guide keeps watch to be sure the material is used appropriately and successfully, as well as offering further lessons in areas of interest. Each child has unique skills and challenges and it is the guide’s job to observe them and, through observing, learn how to best help each child learn and grow.
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 is carefully trimming and watering the plants. Two children may work side by side, sewing buttons and polishing glass objects. These are all examples of Practical Life activities. The materials are designed to give children the opportunity to care for themselves, others, the Children’s House, and beyond! Through repetition and freedom of choice, Practical Life activities help children develop concentration and refined motor skills. Children are given responsibility and are treated with the respect they need to become an active part of their community.
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 (with the exception of pain, for obvious reasons) are represented : Vision, hearing, smelling, tasting, sense of touch, kinesthetic (muscular) sense, stereognostic (recognition through feeling) 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, identifying 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 mathematic 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, the opportunity to work in a group, and the many avenues of discovery make the math area a truly fun place to be!
The Children’s House is a 5-day/week program. We offer half-day (8:30am-12:30pm), full day (8:30am-3:30pm), and All Day Children’s House (8:30am-5:30pm) options. We also offer Before Care for Children’s House children beginning at 7:30am for an additional monthly fee. Snacks are available in the morning and the afternoon. Lunch is a delightful collective activity, with lovingly-packed lunches from home.