Peace Montessori has two classrooms for 3-6 year-olds. We refer to these as the Children’s House(s). The term Children’s House comes from Maria Montessori’s first classroom, which she began in Italy in 1907. She named it “The Casa de Bambini.” During this time, Maria spent many hours merely observing children, and made copious notes regarding their interests, reactions to various materials, as well as behavioral interactions among the children themselves. Additionally, she worked with the physicians Itard and Seguin in order to further her understanding as to how children learn. Through these observations and close working relationships with the leading educational specialists of her time, Maria Montessori created her unique curriculum.
The classroom is set up very specifically and carefully to provide a stimulating, engaging, and proactive learning environment. The areas are: Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, Language, Science and Geography, Music and Movement, and Art. Throughout the classroom, you will find classic Montessori materials mixed in with other developmentally appropriate activities. Many of the works on the shelves are designed and created by the teachers themselves, after observing a need shown by the children. The children are free to move around the environment, choosing works which they are drawn to. The teachers then offer “lessons,”, which is a one-on-one or small group presentation designed to encourage mastery of the task at hand. The teachers keep close track of each child’s progress by recording observations and notes in an individual portfolio for each child.
The Practical Life area of the classroom is constructed with four purposes in mind: Order, Concentration, Coordination, and Independence. These activities also provide a strong link between home and school. Here the children practice skills such as pouring, tweezing, sewing, and numerous other eye-hand strengthening endeavors. All of these works also reinforce left to right practice needed for reading and writing. Mastery of these materials gives children the encouragement they need to branch out into other areas and seek challenges. Equally important and unique in Montessori is our focus on Grace and Courtesy lessons. We strive to ensure that our students are properly taught manners, appropriate social interactions with others, and how to conduct themselves confidently in the classroom. These lessons are introduced at the beginning of each school year, and are continually reinforced on a daily basis.
Sensorial is, as the name implies, education of the senses. Here we find many original materials designed by Maria, and they have remained largely unchanged for over 100 years. We have works that isolate one concept, such as width, length, sound, touch, and strive to train the eye, the hand, and the mind to work together. Nearby we have traditional manipulative activities such as puzzles and blocks.
Math curriculum in Montessori is perhaps the most impressive. Here the children begin with a very strong foundation of the concepts of 0-9. Through the use of a variety of manipulative activities, the children practice numeral naming, as well as the understanding of “how many.” we then progress through the teens, tens, and onward with linear counting. Also included are the four processes of math. All lessons proceed from concrete to abstract, as the children deepen their understanding of the concept being presented.
Language presentations in Montessori begin with multiple pre-reading activities. These include rhymes, matching, sequencing, and oral conversations. We then proceed to isolation of the sounds, using a set sequence of those sounds heard most frequently in English, and progressing to the least heard. Once these are mastered, we move on to putting sounds together, and moving from phonetic words through to non-phonetic “puzzle” words. There are many steps in these sequences, and you will find numerous teacher crafted works to enhance the Montessori lessons. We also work on handwriting, grammar, and reading. Reading is taught trough a mixture of phonetics and whole language practices.
Science and Geography also incorporates cultural studies, as we know that the world is becoming smaller every day. The seven continents of the world make up the basis for all other lessons presented. For each area of our world, we strive to educate the children about the people, animals, and different cultures found all over our planet. Whenever possible, we bring visitors into the class to help deepen our understanding of how people live their lives. We welcome and celebrate various holidays from a variety of cultures, and incorporate cooking, music, and art into these events.
Art and Music and Movement are usually interwoven throughout the other lessons in the curriculum. The children are introduced to all types of music, gain a beginning knowledge of famous composers, and start a journey that we hope includes a lifelong passion for all things musical. Finger plays, songs, and musical games are also found in our day to day classroom schedules.
CHILDREN’S HOUSE PHOTOS
Check out our Children’s House photo gallery to see the kinds of activities that engage the mind, body and spirit, as well as providing a caring, nurturing learning environment for our students.