Programs » Children's House

Children's House

Children sewing
 

The Children’s House program at Lake Country School serves three to six year old children in three multi-age classrooms. Each classroom has Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) trained teachers, typically called “guides,” and assistants. Children attend five days a week— a Half-Day program (mornings) for the younger children, and Full-Day program for the oldest children. There is an extended day Full-Day option for 3-4 yr. children, and before and after school extended day for all children, available by contract.

Research on the development of the brain has borne out Dr. Maria Montessori’s observation that young children are particularly sensitive to learning from their environment through the power of what she called “the absorbent mind,” which can take in everything that is offered. In a Montessori program children teach themselves by working with concrete, hands-on materials that they are shown how to use by a teacher in a one-on-one or small group lesson. After a material has been shown to a child, they are free to use it whenever they choose during the three hour work period. Children work at their own pace as they construct themselves through meaningful work in practical life, sensorial, language, mathematics, cultural, social community and physical activities.

These carefully prepared activities include many of the tasks children observe as part of the daily routine of their culture, such as pouring liquids, preparing foods, fastening clothes, washing hands, washing dishes,  polishing shoes and furniture, and taking care of the environment. Through these tasks, children refine their muscular coordination and develop their powers of independence and concentration by learning to work at a task from beginning to end.
Using materials Montessori developed to help children learn accurate information about physical properties of the environment, each piece of sensorial material isolates one quality, such as dimension, color, weight, texture, shape, smell or sound. Because children of this age absorb the world through their senses, experience with the sensorial materials provides the foundation for both physical and mental activities that enable children to refine all of their senses, including vision, small motor movements, hearing, and speech in preparation for learning.
The young child is receptive to language in all its forms—spoken and written language, the language of mathematics and music, and a second or third language. Our first emphasis is on oral language development through naming objects in the environment, giving scientific classifications to leaf shapes and parts of animals, in geographic place names and in abundant conversation. Children are introduced to the letters of the alphabet by first learning the sound of each letter and connecting it to its written symbol with the Sandpaper Letters. After, they begin to construct words with cut out wooden letters, called the Moveable Alphabet. After acquiring sufficient experience with oral language and individual sounds, they explode into writing and reading. The broad range of cultural materials expands the child’s oral and written language experience in such areas as art, music, science, history, and geography.
The Children’s House program promotes the child’s innate mathematical ability in its early stages of development. In the Montessori environment, children learn and understand the concepts of math by manipulating concrete materials that are designed to isolate a concept and prepare the child for later abstract reasoning. The development of the mind and body are integrated as the child uses Number Rods or carries units for the Change Game. The goals of the program are the association of quantity and symbol, introduction to the decimal system, computation skills, and confidence in using numbers in everyday life.
Art, music, science, geography, and history are carefully integrated into the whole learning experience. The classroom environment responds to the children’s natural curiosity with living plants, animals and hands-on materials that are part of the classroom. Children are encouraged to share projects or natural objects such as flowers, leaves or stones, or things from other cultures or times. We welcome families who would like to share stories, cultural experiences, family traditions, or special talents with the children.
In a Montessori classroom, children are in the process of discovering who they are and how to live well in a community. Older children are responsive to the needs of the younger children, and younger children learn to seek help from their more experienced classmates. Children may choose to work alone or with others. This balance between freedom of the individual and the needs of the group is fundamental to all our environments and is the foundation for self-control, responsibility, respect and independence in the Children’s House.
The variety and independence of the activities in the Children’s House emphasize physical movement, which is fundamental to how children learn. Children also have the opportunity for play outside or in the gymnasium. They develop coordinated movements through cooperative games, rhythms, yoga, and outdoor work. The oldest group of children works with our Physical Education specialist one afternoon each week.