“Within the child lies the fate of the future.”– Maria Montessori
The Children’s House (preschool and kindergarten) is a mixed-age environment specifically designed to help children between the ages of 3 to 6 years to develop at their own pace, choosing their work from the Montessori materials which are displayed in an ordered and accessible way.
Our work with the children centers on each child’s desire to “help me to do it myself.” We provide many practical life and art activities, from baking, sewing, and painting, to scrubbing tables and caring for plants.
We provide a wealth of language activities that inspire children to be passionate about storytelling, learning the sounds of the alphabet, writing, and reading.
To help build children’s mathematical thinking and problem-solving skills, we encourage children to work with manipulatives that teach them to count and to understand quantity.
Our overall approach is to serve the whole child and help him or her fully develop socially, emotionally, physically, spiritually and intellectually.
Four Main Areas
- Practical Life
Children develop the ability to concentrate on tasks and see them through in a logical way, and consequently they learn to read and write with ease, as they are developing an understanding of mathematics through exploration of concepts in concrete form.
Each activity is complete in itself and also prepares for later activities so the children move from one activity to the next, mastering each new challenge with ease.
Children become confident in their own abilities because the environment naturally encourages them to persevere, achieve manageable goals and correct their own mistakes.
A Montessori classroom feels more like a home than a school. You won’t see desks rather you’ll see children happily working individually or in small groups, at tables or on the floor near small mats that delineate their own space. Specially designed learning materials are easily accessible to children as they are displayed on open shelves.
Classrooms support the size of the child with low sinks, child-sized furniture, reachable shelves and child-sized kitchen utensils so the students can eat, prepare, and clean up their snack on their own. Teachers gently guide students to help maintain the organization and cleanliness of this environment to keep it orderly and attractive, and to help your child understand how to care for materials and clean up after themselves.
Children learn “social graces”, all of the important lessons in life that deal with respect. First a child must learn self respect. Respect for others is greatly honored and lived by in a Montessori environment. Children learn how to move through the room, socialize appropriately and complete activities without interrupting what might be happening for others. They learn to care for the whole community, solve problems, develop a solid sense of well being and become great decision makers while making great strides in their own academic, social and emotional development.
Dr. Montessori demonstrated that if children have access to concrete mathematical materials in their early years, they can easily and joyfully assimilate many facts and skills of arithmetic. Montessori designed materials to represent all types of quantities, after she observed that children who become interested in counting like to touch or move the items as they enumerate them. By combining these materials, separating, sharing, counting, and comparing, children can demonstrate to themselves the basic operations of mathematics.
The children’s early experiences with these materials form a solid foundation that supports the understanding of abstract mathematical concepts introduced in the elementary years.
The Montessori classroom provides rich opportunities to develop and enhance oral language, vocabulary enrichment and language appreciation. The individual presentation of language materials in a Montessori environment allows the teacher to take advantage of each child’s greatest periods of interest.
Children learn the phonetic sounds of letters before they learn the alphabetical names in a sequence. The phonetic sounds are given first because these are the sounds children hear in spoken words and the most easily lead the child to reading. Phoneme awareness is practiced with “I Spy” games and other activities the children enjoy. The children then become aware of the symbols that represent the phonetic sounds when the teacher introduces them with activities such as Sandpaper Letters.
The individual presentation of language materials in a Montessori environment allows the teacher to take advantage of each child’s greatest periods of interest. Writing, or the construction of words with the “moveable alphabet,” precedes reading because the decoding of words follows phoneme awareness as the first step to reading. The child begins by creating simple 3-letter phonetic words and moves on to reading phonetic words.
Gradually the children learn irregular words (“puzzle words”) and words with two and three syllables by performing many reading exercises that offer the child variety rather than monotonous repetition. Proceeding at their own pace, children are encouraged to read about things that interest them. Beginning grammar is then presented through games and activities.
The child’s interest in reading is cultivated as the most important key to his/her future learning. Children are encouraged to explore books for answers to their own questions, whether they are about frogs, rockets, stars, or dinosaurs.
Additional materials are available for children to pursue their interests in such topics as geography, geometry, science and nature, art, music, and history. Large motor activities, group discussions, stories, and songs are also part of the Montessori Children’s House day.
Casa children experience art through exploration of the art shelves in their classroom environments. When children are of kindergarten age they explore art materials like clay, paint and drawing, with lessons that focus on the art elements of color, line, shape, texture and space.
For children, music is an innate joy that offers a unique way for them to experience the world around them. It reaches the perceptual, intellectual, cultural, emotional and spiritual dimensions of their lives. It promotes creativity, thinking and joy. The Music Curriculum at St. John’s provides a complete, balanced and sequential music education. We strive to develop musically literate children who have an appreciation for beauty and the arts through the love and enjoyment of music. We hope to instill a life-long desire to seek out music in our students’ lives.
Children’s House students continue to explore many skills with increased expectation for students participation, increased skill sets, and a deeper level of musical understanding.
Arrival: Children begin their day by hanging up coats, putting on indoor shoes, and greeting friends and teachers.
Morning Work Cycle: Children have an uninterrupted morning of hands-on activities in four main areas:
- Practical life (everyday activities like flower arranging and food preparation)
- Sensorial (hands-on exploration with the five senses)
- Language (spoken and written language)
- Math (using manipulatives like blocks and beads)
- The teacher shows children new activities one-on-one or in small groups.
Snack: Children help prepare morning snack for their classmates and have their snack two children at a time throughout the morning.
Recess: Children are outside on our nature playscape and open areas for up to 45 minutes of outdoor play.
Lunch: Hot lunch is available for purchase, or children can bring a packed lunch from home. Children eat lunch in the classroom environment, which echoes the life of the family. The children share responsibility for setting the tables and for cleaning up after meals. They use china plates, glassware and cloth napkins.
Nap or rest: Depending upon their needs, children rest in the classroom or take a full nap.
Afternoon: Children continue their hands-on activities until their parents pick them up.