Children’s House is a multi-age classroom for children ages three to six. In this mixed-age environment, children learn with and from other children, which was an important belief held by Dr. Montessori. This gives older children a chance to serve as role models for younger students, demonstrating leadership and citizenship skills. This type of environment encourages students to express confidence, develop self-esteem and self-sufficiency, and show responsibility. Each classroom has a teacher and an assistant to guide the children through their day.
The Children’s House school can further be divided into younger and older students. Morning Only children are generally ages three to four and attend school from 8:30 AM to 12:00 PM. Extended Day children, also known as kindergarten-aged children, are generally ages five and six and attend school from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM. To experience the full Montessori work cycle and tap into the windows of learning (a Montessori concept known as “sensitive periods,”) we encourage enrollment in Children’s House between the ages of three to four.
Morning Only Children
Times: 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM
(For optimal development, enrollment is encouraged prior to the child’s 4th birthday.)
Your Child’s Typical Day
A typical day for students in our Children’s House classroom begins with a greeting and handshake with the teacher. Ready to begin their morning work cycle, the children maneuver through the classroom with confidence, using a variety of materials to explore concepts in math, reading, writing, geography, science, and activities of daily life at their leisure. Our students learn skills in grace and courtesy, caring for and teaching each other, respecting the classroom activities, cleaning up after themselves, preparing their own snack, and washing their dishes. The morning concludes when the children gather for a group activity to sing songs, celebrate a birthday, hear a story, or learn about something new in topics anywhere from dinosaurs to China. The day concludes with outside play time.
Extended Day Children
Times: 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Your Child’s Typical Day
What Your Child is Learning
McDonald Montessori School teaches a variety of skills which serve as a solid foundation for the child’s development in such areas as:
Practical Life: Simultaneously developing internal independence and external care of others by teaching the child to care for themselves, to care for their environment, to act with grace and courtesy towards others, and master control of their own movements. These experiences can range from the physical; such as washing, cleaning, and polishing; to the social-cultural, such as celebrating the diversity of their classmates.
Sensorial: Developing senses, such as seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling. Everything from the shape, to the texture, to the sound of a material is considered when selecting it for the child’s use. Material examples include color tablets for color discrimination, bells for tonal evaluation, and geometric solids or constructed triangles for tactile perception.
Language: Exploring letters, sounds, handwriting, and spelling. Material examples include metal insets with pencils for dexterity, objects or pictures with sets of movable letters, and alphabet character cards.
Mathematics: Developing concepts such as numeration, place value, fractions, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Material examples include numbered tablets, long rods, bead chains, decimal cubes, and trinomial cubes.
Below are a few highlighted examples of the materials that our children work with in the classroom:
Tower of Cubes
The Tower of Cubes aids the child in understanding and hands-on building in multiple dimensions. This exercise improves muscular coordination, visual perception, and gives a practical understanding of dimension and scale. The cubes are all one color, isolating the concept of size and dimension for the child, giving them the basic understanding of length, width, and height. As the child advances, the Tower of Cubes is often paired with the Broad Stairs.
Like the Tower of Cubes, the Broad Stairs are used to develop the child’s ability to differentiate by size; however, in a linear function. As opposed to the Tower of Cubes, all the stairs are the same length, but vary in width and depth, which trains discrimination between what is wide versus what is narrow. The Broad Stairs are often paired with the Tower of Cubes for a complete understanding of multiple dimensions.
The Geometric Solids are used to further the child’s understanding of how three-dimensional shapes relate to two-dimensional shapes. For example, when the child works with a square-based pyramid, they will see that the sides are made up of four triangles, as well as a square to form the base of the pyramid. These concepts will prepare the child for understanding geometry, as such concepts as planes and angles are key to working with the materials. In the beginning, pictures as well as hands-on interaction are used to help the child learn and match the geometrical forms.
The Knobbed Cylinders are another tool designed to help the child make distinctions in size and dimension while using touch and sight. The set board with which the child works consists of ten different cylinders, each having a knob on top for the child to grasp, strengthening fine motor skills. Using the material, the child further develops an understanding of width, height, and circumference.
Long Rods are used to further develop visual discrimination of size, but in one dimension. The Long Rods are a series of rods which incrementally increase in length. Large motor skills and coordination are required to properly handle the materials. The child may arrange the rods according to length or utilize them to understand basic mathematical concepts. For example, since each rod increases in length by the same amount, the child can learn that by combining the first and second shortest rods, one now has the equivalent of the third shortest rod. By combining the first and third shortest rods, one now has the equivalent of the fourth shortest rod, and so on.
While using a tactile approach, the Bead Chains are used to develop the child’s concept of mathematics, from basic number counting to complex multiplication. Each color of bead chain in the cabinet corresponds with a different length of chain, and the number arrows are purposely colored to match the correct chain. The bead chains may be used in a linear fashion to teach addition or arranged to demonstrate the formation of squares or cubes.
Mono / Bi / Trinomial Cubes
While utilizing fine motor skills and visual acuity, the child can build a cube, as well as understand the various ways in which it can be assembled. Beginning with the monomial, the binomial, and then the trinomial cube, the child can visually see patterns in the spatial relationships between the various shapes. To aid with building various cube configurations, the sides of the pieces are color coded to match. For example, a blue side of a piece will always touch another blue side of either another piece or the board. This creates the foundation for understanding more complex algebraic formulas in the future.
The Bells can be utilized to develop the auditory senses of the child by teaching them to discriminate between pitch as well as identify notes on the musical scale. The Bells are arranged chromatically in a full octave beginning with middle C, matching the keys of the modern European piano. Mallets of differing materials and hardness can be used to create different timbres (tone color), which teaches the child to recognize the musical quality of a note.
With a hands-on approach, the child can piece together the world around them. Like many of the Montessori materials, smooth wooden pieces are used for a complete sensorial experience. A knowledge of geography is key to developing the child’s understanding of the outside world and its diversity. This builds a foundation of empathy and curiosity for differing cultures and points of view, creating better citizens for our world’s future.