Pre-School and Kindergarten
3 - 6 years old
Half Day program: 8:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Full Day program: 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Children's House (Half-Day Program)
Children's House for children ages three and four is a half day experience. Classes meet Monday through Friday from 8:30-11:30 a.m. The children have a three hour work cycle which includes two weekly hour-long lessons from Oak Hill Montessori's Spanish Specialist.
Children's House (Full Day Program)
for Three and Four year olds:
The Children's House Full Day program begins in the Montessori classroom Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. after which children continue with Full Day Care from 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The Full Day program is provided for three and four year olds who require extended care beyond the half day Children's House experience.
The children who enroll in the Full Day program will find that it is an extension of their home environment. After the three-hour Children's House morning work cycle, they have a full hour for lunch, which encompasses family rituals: the children share responsibility for setting the tables and for cleaning up after meals, they use china plates, glassware and cloth napkins. Upon completion of lunch, the children play outside in our beautiful outdoor environment.
Nap and rest is provided in a cozy prepared environment. Each child has the opportunity to nap for approximately 1 1/2 hours. Upon completion of their nap the child continues his experience in the Full Day environment with the materials provided for practical life, opportunities for self-expression and freedom of choice and movement.
Children's House (Full Day Program) for Five and Six year olds:
Children ages five and six participate in Full Day Montessori (Kindergarten program) Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Children ages five and six years old begin their school day in the Montessori classroom. Upon completion of lunch and outdoor play they return to their respective classrooms for an extended Montessori work period. These children have reached a level of maturity requiring a longer work cycle. This rich exploration is the culmination of their Children's House experience resulting in the reinforcement of reading and math skills preparation for entering elementary. This is also the period which allows the child to become a leader in the community, and provides greater opportunities for socialization with peers in the afternoon hours.
The Kindergarten program includes a full hour for lunch, which encompasses family rituals in which the children share responsibility for setting the tables and for cleaning up after meals, they use china plates, glassware and cloth napkins. Upon completion of lunch, the children play outside in our beautiful outdoor environment.
After daily outdoor play, the children re-enter their classrooms for an extended work cycle. This includes a weekly music lesson, an extended Spanish lesson and experiences in the Art room with Oak Hill Montessori's Art Specialist.
Purpose and Goals
Dr. Montessori believed that no human being is educated by another person. The young child possesses what Montessori termed "the absorbent mind" and seeks to build or construct his/her very being. Truly educated individuals continue to learn long after the hours and years spent in the classroom because they are motivated from within by a natural curiosity and quest for knowledge.
Dr. Montessori felt, therefore, that the goal of early childhood education should not be to fill the child with facts from a pre-selected course of studies, but rather to cultivate the child's own natural desire to learn. Most lessons in the Children's House environment are given as individual presentations because the young child is creating his/her own intellect and personality.
In the Children's House environment, this objective is approached in two ways: first, by allowing each child to experience the excitement of learning by his/her own choice rather than by being led; and second, by helping the child perfect his/her natural tools for learning, so that the child's abilities will be maximized for future learning situations. Montessori materials have this dual, long-range purpose in addition to their immediate purpose of giving specific information to the child.
Life Exercises: For young children, there is something special about tasks which an adult considers ordinary--washing dishes, paring vegetables, polishing shoes, etc. These tasks, which to adults may seem mundane, are intriguing to children because they allow them to act as adults do. Imitation is one of the strongest urges during the child's early years. One of the child's first and fundamental tasks is to adapt and orient himself/herself to her immediate environment.
In the Practical Life area of the classroom, the exercises and activities help children perfect their coordination as they repeat and become absorbed in an activity. Children gradually lengthen their span of concentration and also learn to pay attention to details as they follow a regular sequence of actions. Finally, through the exercises of practical life, the children learn life-long working habits: orientation to tasks, perseverance, self-directedness, satisfaction and a confidence they transfer to later academic work.
Sensory Exercises: The sensorial materials in the classroom help children to distinguish, to categorize, and to relate new information to what they already know. Dr. Montessori believed that this process is the beginning of conscious knowledge. It is brought about by the intelligence working in a concentrated and ordered way on the impressions the child has collected through his/her senses.
Children learn about their world by comparing. sequencing and abstracting different heights, lengths, weights, colors, sounds, smells, shapes and textures. Through working with concrete materials that help them abstract these qualities, children build their intellect by generalizing from the concrete to the abstract.
Children's House Classroom
Mathematics: 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.
Language: 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.
Other Areas: 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.
Visual Arts: Casa children experience art through exploration of the art shelves in their classroom environments. When children are of kindergarten age they come for their first experience in the art room with the Arts Resource Director. They come about once a month to explore art materials like clay, paint and drawing, with lessons that focus on the art elements of color, line, shape, texture and space. Class size is small and children spend 1 to 2 hours exploring and creating in our beautifully appointed art studio space. At the end of the year the children have a grand art finale with a week long art residency where they create some lasting memories as one of the culminations of their Casa experience.
Music: 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. In Children's House there is an increased focus on vocal production and children are introduced to iconic music reading, solfege syllables (do, re, mi, etc.) and rhythmic notation. Oak Hill Montessori Music Specialist visits each Children's House classroom once a week in the morning.
Starting at the Kindergarten year, students meet with the Oak Hill Montessori Music Specialist, in the afternoon once a week as well. Music time involves singing, dancing, marching, playing instruments and listening and moving to various styles of music. The students will learn songs and dances about nature, seasons, holidays and culture. We also value teaching with the use of xylophones, metallophones and glockenspiels as well as other percussion instruments using Orff Schulwerk arrangements and experimentation. Students also participate in music games and interactive songs to reinforce musical concepts learned.
Learning Specialist: At times children may require additional support outside of the regular classroom environment. This support may be needed in areas such as reading, math, attentional difficulties, developmental delays or other specific learning challenges.
Spanish: The Spanish program at Oak Hill Montessori aims to integrate the Spanish language and culture throughout the environment. We focus less on the teaching of grammar and more on the development of listening and speaking skills and on cultural awareness. Students acquire the language through careful listening and repetition, achieved by visuals, games, songs, storytelling and physical activities.
- Children have fun learning songs, finger plays and rhymes in Spanish
- Children are encouraged to participate by listening and repeating the Spanish words
- Movement activities help children associate their experiences in class to new vocabulary, pronunciation and expressions
The goal is for the ear to get used to the "sound" of Spanish. The children are training their ears to the Spanish language, especially in the younger classrooms. By the time the children reach Junior High, their brains are ready to acquire the language in a more formal study.
It is not expected that all children will become bilingual, or even fluent speakers. Rather, early exposure to another language creates a facility for understanding and speaking it, as well as greater ease in later study. It also creates an early consciousness of culture.