“Lots of parents don’t come specifically for the Montessori program but soon see the benefits of squeezing oranges and grinding coffee. There is an endgame, and it’s a seamless process.”
Early Childhood: PreK–Kindergarten
Whether joining Oak Meadow as a 3–6 year-old, or continuing on from Oak Meadow’s Toddler program, students build critical foundations using task-oriented Montessori materials to explore language, order, movement, and refinement of the senses.
Preparation for Life
The classroom environment sparks curiosity and inspires self-motivation while supporting each child’s development of concentration, coordination, and independence. As children repeat their interaction with chosen materials, they interact with the materials in increasingly complex ways—taking on new challenges and processing deeper understanding. The three-year continuum (ages 3–6) assures continuity, individual pacing, and evolving social proficiency.
Montessori materials used in the Children’s House program promote curiosity, awaken the senses, and inspire self-motivation.
Explore the Children’s House Program curriculum below.
The use of engaging Montessori materials in the math program enables children to internalize the concepts of numbers, symbols, sequences, operations, patterns, and basic facts. The inviting and multi-sensory materials, carefully laid out from simple to complex, offer a concrete representation of abstract mathematical concepts such as simple operations, area, volume, and measurement. While children are learning addition and subtraction, the materials are reinforcing a rudimentary understanding of the decimal system. Children’s House students develop number fluency and apply their skills in meaningful ways. By the time they complete the Children’s House program, most students will have a solid understanding of numbers to 100 and many will grasp mathematical concepts far beyond.
The language curriculum is a sequential, systematic program designed for the acquisition of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Using sandpaper letters, the moveable alphabet, metal insets, and other materials, children learn to recognize the shape and phonetic sounds of letters and the construction of words to develop skills in reading and writing. Children are exposed to rich literature and a wide assortment of reading materials to match their developmental stage. In doing so, they learn the joy of reading and the power of the written word. Wilson Fundations, a research-based sequential phonetic approach to learning language, complements the Montessori language curriculum.
The study of history, science and geography within the Children’s House cultural curriculum is designed to inspire a sense of awe in the child. In Children’s House, the study of physical geography begins with the use of materials such as sandpaper globes and puzzle maps, which give children a basic geographic understanding of the continents of the world, the countries within the continents, as well as the states of the United States. Through age-appropriate activities, experiments, and exploration, students are exposed to a rich curriculum of history and culture.
Children begin to understand the basic concepts of biology, chemistry, physics, and earth sciences through hands-on exploration and experimentation. The Children’s House science curriculum is expansive and includes the study of vertebrates and invertebrates, identifying the parts of a plant or tree, and understanding the difference between a liquid, solid, and a gas. Student interest will drive project-based exploration such as sprouting seeds to learn about roots, stems, and leaves, or building a circuit using a battery.
The Spanish program at Oak Meadow begins in Children’s House with classes held once a week. Research has shown that early language acquisition is the key to fluency. Through movement, imitation, chanting, and singing, children become familiar with the Spanish language, develop a natural intonation, and engage in comfortable interaction in a group and with the teacher.
Social and emotional learning includes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills. By developing these skills and promoting prosocial behavior, we strive to create learning environments where students feel safe, valued, and connected. Children’s House students explore developmentally appropriate concepts of social and emotional learning. Topics may include personal greetings, personal space, friendship, conflict resolution, feelings, coping skills, and self-control. Lessons are taught through hands-on activities, themed stories, visual cues, role-playing, and guided discussions.
Lessons in grace and courtesy are intermingled with academics and are presented with equal importance. Children’s House students are taught to behave with grace and courtesy, the foundation of conduct at Oak Meadow. In the resulting environment of peace and safety, students are able to calmly concentrate and move toward greater self-confidence and independence.
In Children’s House, students learn conflict resolution as a way of achieving peace within the classroom. Cooperative living is put into practice as students complete daily chores with the common goal of keeping their classroom neat and tidy. The concept is extended to the world outside when these young students participate in caring for their planet. Children’s House classes host guests who awaken awareness of differences, as the school promotes acceptance. Students learn philosophies of peace when they study the lives of historical peacemakers. Oak Meadow hopes that each graduate of the school will exemplify this fundamental Montessori practice along every path followed.
During the first two years of Children’s House program, the students have the opportunity to try a variety of art and creative materials in the classroom, including painting, collage and glue, cutting with scissors and hole-punching. Beginning in the third year of the Children’s House program, students attend art class once a week in small groups. Students are introduced to a wide variety of materials, concepts, skills, techniques, and projects. Emphasis is placed on the process of creating art in a personal way. Students work independently on their own ideas, within a framework set up by the teacher. Lessons are given on the care and use of materials, specific methods of creating art, and on the works of specific artists, both past and contemporary. Projects often tie into classroom curriculum, cultural celebrations, children’s literature or artworks that are shared. The goal of the Children’s House art curriculum is to allow each child to explore their own creativity through various projects using a wide variety of prompts.
The Children’s House Music curriculum emphasizes group singing and movement, rhythmic training, individual confidence, and imaginative play. Classes incorporate songs and dances from many cultural traditions. Through solfège singing and rhythmic games, students gain confidence to sing alone in front of others and to read simple rhythms. Musical instruments from around the world are introduced in hands-on lessons, which include discussion of instrument materials and how sound is produced. Students enjoy performing at school assemblies. In the Spring, many Children’s House students additionally participate in Storybook Theater, an after school acting program that stages performances of beloved picture books including such classics as: Where the Wild Things Are, Hats for Sale, The Mitten, and King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub.
Children’s House students attend physical education classes once a week. The curriculum emphasizes the development of gross motor skills, body awareness, control, coordination and balance. Students are encouraged to explore new movements through the use of music, and acquire a greater sense of direction and spatial awareness.
This area of study most intrigues this age of students who want to acquire the life skills that they observe in the adult world. Children prepare food, polish objects, use a broom, cut and arrange flowers. They master personal care, learning to button, tie, zip and snap. Children choose their work and complete a specific sequence of steps for a task. This appeals to the young child’s innate sense of order. Practical life work cultivates independence and builds students’ self-esteem as they become confident in their abilities. Children learn to concentrate and focus on the materials, laying the foundation for all other classroom work. Excitement for new-found abilities encourages a desire for more challenges.
Children discover the physical world around them through their senses. Montessori sensorial materials help students develop powers of focus and observation. Students learn to order, classify, and describe sensory impressions of length, width, height, temperature, mass, color, scent, taste, touch, and pitch. The materials create an awareness of variations, such as the wide spectrum of color in nature, the broad range of sound, the feel of rough and smooth, heavy and light, warm and cold. Students come to distinguish, categorize, and relate new information to information they have already acquired, skills critical to the development of judgment and decision making. This area of study results in the acquisition of new vocabulary, as well as the expansion of the language of description (color, size, texture, sound, etc.) and comparative language (e.g. small, smaller, smallest).
Oak Meadow’s nature program is built on a variety of dynamic, outdoor adventures. As much as possible, the nature program follows the seasons guided by the 13 Native American moons of the turtle’s back, integrating Native American wisdom with a Three Sisters garden, snowshoeing, and vernal pool exploration. In the fall, children are guided by the harvest moon in activities such as working in the garden, digging potatoes and carrots, and harvesting corn. As the leaves change, students move toward the forest to study seed dispersal and the transition to winter. Students learn to appreciate the magical rhythm of nature. Like the seasons, nature-based learning is full of the expected and the unexpected.
Children are natural engineers and scientists; they explore the world around them as a means to understand their world. In bi-weekly STEM classes, children will collaboratively investigate science, engineering and math concepts through hands-on activities, using science equipment such as scales, microscopes, lenses, thermometers and more. Children are introduced to the scientific and engineering process identifying problems to be solved, making predictions, recording data and representing data visually.