What is Montessori Children’s House?
Montessori Children’s House is an early education program for children ages three to six. This program is designed to be three-years long. A child who attends the school for one or two years will certainly gain many valuable lessons. However, he will not reach his full potential, because he has not had enough time to explore all the benefits of the curriculum.
Over the course of three years, a child will have the opportunity to be the youngest, middle and oldest in the class. Each year offers a unique perspective and set of challenges that can only be experienced through this progression. A three-year-old is motivated and supported by her older peers and aspires to do what they do. In general, children learn better from peers than from adults. The second-year student begins to master many of the skills she practiced in her first year. Her role changes, as she begins to guide her younger peers, yet still receives guidance from the older students.
The third-year is when it all comes together. She begins to explode in her development. More important than the academic knowledge gained, she becomes a leader and mentor. Student look forward to the responsibilities of becoming the oldest in the class. The third-year child often gives lessons to younger children. This internalizes the skill and provides a level of confidence that can only be achieved by teaching others what you already know.
The Montessori Materials
The materials in a Montessori Children’s House classroom are designed to foster this three-year progression. Montessori materials were scientifically designed in this unique and progressive way. A child who starts after the age of three, or who does not stay for his third-year, will not have the time that is necessary to master and comprehend the concepts offered by these materials.
Take the world puzzle maps as an example:
First year students use the maps simply as a puzzle. They are introduced to the names of the continents, and some children may start to recognize the names and the associated shapes of each continent. Second year students start to trace the outlines of the continents and can identify each one and its proper place on the globe. Third year students then begin to identify major countries within each continent and internalize knowledge about these countries’ cultures, habitats, and animal life.
Third-Year vs. Kindergarten
Even with all this knowledge, many parents still struggle with the question of whether to send their child to public school Kindergarten or stay in the Montessori school for the third-year. A child who leaves a Montessori program before his third-year is often placed into an educational setting that is not as advanced. Traditional Kindergarten classrooms typically do not allow the child to take responsibility for his own learning.
When transitioning to a new school there can be lag time at the beginning of the year. The teacher must take time to assess each child to see where he or she is academically. This is truer for Kindergarten than for any other grade. This is because there are no standards set for preschool. Children can go to Kindergarten with no prior academic knowledge. The teacher must start with basic concepts like color, letter, and number recognition. These are all concepts that are naturally mastered by second-year students in a Children’s House classroom.
Why Commit for Three Years?
The purpose of a quality educational setting is to help children reach their full potential and nurture a love of learning. A Montessori Children’s House classroom is the place where these life impacting events transpire. When children complete the program, they are more than prepared for a successful elementary experience starting in first grade.