‘Casa dei Bambini’ Children’s House (3-6 years old)
In the Children’s House environment, we continue with the work that has been started in the infant/toddler community (Nursery Class) or welcome newcomers of the age up to six years old. Maria Montessori described children from 3 to 6 year olds as sponges, absorbing knowledge and information from their environments using all their senses. Children at this age are very focused on their own personal development and adapting to the immediate world around them. They are keen observers and enjoy taking part in activities that are meaningful and purposeful, and that fulfill an inner developmental desire.
The teacher in the classroom acts as a guide, showing ways to explore the curriculum areas and giving individual and group lessons. We also introduce music, art, multicultural studies, languages, and physical education. All activities or ‘work’ are designed to foster independence, confidence, concentration, and mutual respect for each other and for the environment. An example of this respect is through the students helping to set up the lunchroom and cleaning the classroom.
In the area of Practical Life, children are presented with everyday common routines and practices. Dr. Montessori believed that children at this age are in the process of adapting and belonging, and that the best way for them to do this is through hands-on work until they perfect it through regular observation and practice. Activities such as sweeping, food preparation, or washing and folding clothes carry a tremendous importance for children at this age. Moreover, these activities allow the refinement of both their large and small motor functioning, which leads to increased coordination in both areas. The following are a few areas and activities in each to provide examples:
- Care of self – how to dress and undress oneself, button and unbutton various fasteners, how to wash hands, brush teeth and fold clothes.
- Care of the environment – washing a table, washing a mirror, arranging flowers, watering and taking care of plants.
- Food preparation – cutting fruits and vegetables, grinding spices, making cookies, making smoothies, tea, or lemonade.
- Grace and Courtesy – learning how to speak or interrupt politely, apologize, not disrupting other people’s work, returning work on the shelf when finished, setting out lunch tables, etc.
Dr. Montessori created the area she termed Sensorial in the three to six class based on her observations that children at this age were going through a period of refinement of their senses. The materials she created are what she termed ‘materialised abstractions.’ With these materials, the children will explore and refine the senses listed below. Through their work with the sensorial materials they are also laying the foundation for future work in Geometry, Math, and Language:
- Visual; dimension, colour, shape
- Tactile; texture, mass, temperature, stereognostic
- Auditory; pitch, timbre, rhythm, style, intensity of sound
- Olfactory; smell
- Gustatory; taste
During the first plane of development, from birth to six years old, children experience one of the most profound periods of development that they will go through in their entire life and that is the acquisition of language. At eighteen months, an infant will know about 50 words. At six years, a child will know between three to five thousand words. To help with this process, we provide our Children’s House with an environment that is lively and rich with spoken and written language. By speaking to them as if we were speaking to another adult, they hear correct pronunciation of words instead of ‘baby talk.’ By modeling grace and courtesy, children internalize a sense of politeness. The following are the areas we cover in language throughout the course of a 3-6 class.
- Children are immediately exposed to oral language the moment they enter Children’s House and are given appropriate names for objects and actions.
- Sound Games are used to break down the sounds in words, which help children become more aware of such sounds in words. Activities to build phonological and phonemic awareness are offered so that children learn the alphabet and step into reading in a smooth and natural way.
In Montessori, we teach writing before reading. This is done through the following.
- Sandpaper letters
- Sand tray
- Moveable alphabet
- Metal insets
- Writing on boards
- Writing on paper
Reading is taught only after children have a good, working understanding of individual sounds, phonetic letter combinations, and phonograms. Work with these materials help develop
- Labeling the environment
- Phonetic object boxes
- Phonogram object boxes
- Matching words to pictures
- Word lists
- Three part cards
- Letter combinations
- Puzzle and sight words
Grammar and Word Study
Children in the 3-6 class are also introduced to the parts of speech, sentence analysis and word study, or word families. They learn how a word functions in a sentence, constructing a complete thought or idea.
In Maths, at the three to six level, children are presented with materials to work on that provide concrete examples of abstract concepts. When a child enters a Kindergarten classroom at three years old, there might be very little concept of number and quantity. By the time they finish Kindergarten, they are capable of simple mathematical operations, and have been introduced to many other areas of Math.
- Counting 1-10, in the teens, and in the tens
- Skip counting
- Introduction to the decimal system and place value
- Working with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
- Start of memorising maths facts of the four operations
- Mathematical nomenclature and terms
- An introduction to fractions and language
The Cultural subjects in the Montessori kindergarten class include Geography, History, Science, Botany, and Zoology. Activities include map-making, learning about and locating continents and countries, learning about the elements, regional fauna and flora, cultural artefacts, the body parts, the calendar, introduction to chemistry, etc. Emphasis is placed on the inter-relatedness of all living things in the natural world as the introduction to the Cosmic Education that follows in the Montessori Elementary Cultural subjects.
Science experiments happen on a weekly basis. They offer an exciting and engaging way to introduce young minds to the wonders of the natural world and of human achievements. Science experiments aim to encourage children to explore, question, and discover through hands-on activities.
They provide a platform for children to develop critical thinking skills and teamwork ability, cultivate a sense of curiosity, and foster a love for science from an early age. In the modern age of technology and its face-paced evolution and advancements, it is essential to nurture scientific literacy, encourage and enable young children to become active participants in the scientific process including its real-life application.
Music, Art, Modern Languages, and Physical Education
Art and crafts provide an outlet for a child’s creative expression, and help develop fine motor and social skills. On completing art and craft projects a child can acquire a sense of accomplishment that will help build self-esteem and intellect.
Art and artistic creativity are integral parts of our curriculum. Children are encouraged to express themselves through painting and drawing in the classroom. This is supplemented by regular art classes where they are introduced to a variety of media, skills, and art forms from different cultures.
From as early as the beginning of the 20th century Dr. Montessori had already concluded that musical education would benefit children during their developmental years. Active music training can improve the child’s problem-solving skills, physical coordination, poise, concentration, self-confidence, and ability to learn. Our music programme aims at increasing the children’s understanding and enjoyment of music, both local and international; developing their non-verbal communication; and at the same time nourishing their curiosity, imagination, intellect, etc.
At the School, we believe students at the Kindergarten age are ‘sponges’ for languages. We take this opportunity in their learning stage and ability by offering modern languages beyond that of English. Languages as a second-language are French, Chinese Mandarin and Spanish.
Physical education (P.E.) programme is designed to enhance skills such as gross and fine motor control balance and coordination, while at the same time aiding social development through group activities and games emphasizing cooperation.
Modern languages, Music, Art and P.E. are also offered as after-school activities. *From the Greek kosmos meaning ‘order’ or ‘world’.