Understanding the Montessori Practical Life Curriculum

The Practical Life curriculum is the cornerstone of the Montessori experience. It lays the foundation for the independence that unfolds in the Montessori classroom. The lessons and materials within this area of the classroom vary widely; some are easy to spot and others are more subtle. Let’s take a look at the Montessori classroom, and the many opportunities that children have to practice the daily living skills that make up the Practical Life curriculum.

Four Categories of the Practical Life Curriculum

The four categories of Practical Life lessons isolate different key concepts that are all part of the child’s journey towards independence. Together they help a child learn self-awareness and to become conscious of their language, behavior, actions, and impact on others. The four categories are:

  • Grace and Courtesy – getting along well with others
  • Control of Movement – being aware of your body in space
  • Care of Self – learning to care for your own needs and to help others who need it
  • Care of Environment – cleaning up after yourself and being responsible for your actions
Two children using practical life materials at Children's House Montessori School of Reston
Practical Life is more fun with friends!

Grace and Courtesy

People often wonder how we can have three, four, and five year olds together in the same classroom and maintain a calm learning environment. Lessons in Grace and Courtesy make our mixed-age classrooms possible; they are central to creating a peaceful and harmonious classroom.

In layman’s terms, Grace and Courtesy means polite manners and respectful behavior. The expectation is that everyone in the classroom is worthy of respect and that polite manners are one of the ways we can show that respect. Teachers model Grace and Courtesy by speaking politely to their students and their colleagues. Children are always watching and learn so much from observing the adults in their lives. 

Children learn to

  • politely interrupt 
  • wait their turn
  • have patience with friends
  • greet teachers and friends politely
  • welcome newcomers to the classroom
  • disagree peacefully and speak respectfully
Child raises her hand at circle time at Children's House Montessori School of Reston.
We all have exciting things to share at circle time, but we need to learn to wait our turn.

Control of Movement

Between the ages of 3 and 6, children need a variety of opportunities to develop their balance, coordination, and fine motor skills. There is a connection between physical order and internal order. A child who can control their body, can better control their mind and their impulses. It’s an ongoing process that the Montessori classroom addresses in different ways. 

  • Balance – children walk along a marked line on the floor, placing one foot in front of the other. They might hold a small bell, taking care to walk carefully and keep the bell from ringing. They learn balance, and strive to complete the line without misstep. 
  • Coordination – many of the Practical Life materials are arranged on small trays, which the children must carry to their workspace. Children learn to carry items one at a time, to place their things on the table before pulling out their chair, and how to move carefully through the busy classroom.
  • Fine Motor Skills – from transferring small beads carefully with a tiny spoon to learning how to thread a needle in preparation for sewing, the Practical Life shelves are filled with fine motor practice opportunities. 
The materials on the Practical Life shelf are easily changed out to reflect different holidays and seasons.

Care of Self

In order for a child to gain independence, they need to be able to care for their basic needs: using the bathroom, washing hands, using a tissue, getting dressed, etc. There are plenty of teachable moments in daily life, but children also need time to practice these skills without a time constraint. The Montessori dressing frames isolate the fine motor skills needed to work a zipper, manipulate a button into a buttonhole, close a snap or buckle, and tie a bow with laces. 

Once a child has mastered a technique, they are often quick to help others who are still learning. This makes it so much easier to get ready to go outside in the wintertime! Zipping coats, tying shoes, and buttoning jackets is a lot faster when most of the class can get the job done themselves and are willing to help those who can’t.

Care of the Environment

When you are in a Montessori classroom, you are part of a community. Every person in the classroom, from the most experienced teacher to the youngest student, has an important role to play in keeping the classroom in order. Montessori children learn that they are capable of doing real work and that their work is valued and important.

Children learn to clean up spills and messes, using child-sized brooms, mops, and dustpans. They have access to the tools they need to wipe up splatters of paint, sweep up sand that was tracked in from the playground, or clean fingerprints from the classroom windows. They learn how to water the classroom plants, help feed the class pet, fill playground birdfeeders, and use small rakes to clear leaves in the fall. 

The Montessori Practical Life curriculum is a combination of specific lessons and real life experience. They teach the children the steps to take, the materials to use, and the skills they need to “do it myself.” 

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Understanding the Montessori Math Curriculum

Math is all around us and, for a young child, words like “more, less, not enough, and share” are part of daily life.  Math is also inherently abstract.  It is a language of precision that takes years to master, but at its core are the basic foundations all children need to learn: counting, numeral identification, and basic mathematical operations. Let’s take a look at the Montessori math curriculum for the primary class and see how we do it.

A Tactile Experience

Montessori math materials create a tactile experience for the child. Manipulatives allow the child to use their sense of touch to grasp mathematical concepts of quantity. Materials are generally made of wood and are painted pleasing colors, when necessary. They have weight to them, which helps small hands and muscles understand that 1 is less than 10 and 1000 is more than 100. Smooth wooden rods and heavy cubes work to ensure that the child develops a concrete understanding of quantity.

Some materials are made of glass. These shiny, glass beads appeal to the tiny fingers that will count them precisely and handle them carefully. From the youngest to the oldest child, the colorful glass beads hold their appeal through the years. Younger children use them for simple counting lessons: single units, teen numerals, and tens to one hundred.  Older children have lessons on skip counting, addition, subtraction, and even square numbers and cubed numbers; all with the same shiny beads!

Quantity and Numeration

The numeral “5” represents a quantity of five units. Children learn that “1” means a single unit, “2” means two units, “3” means three, etc. There are several materials in the Montessori math curriculum that are used for practicing matching a quantity to its numeral. Children memorize the numerals in order, identify them randomly, and understand concepts like “zero.” Some examples include:

  • Spindle box – introduces the concept of “zero” as one box remains empty while the others are filled
  • Number rods – the length of the wooden rods progress from the smallest rod (10cm long) to the longest rod (1m) and are marked in colored sections from one to ten
  • Cards and Counters – small items are counted out and matched to numerals indicated on a card

Introduction to the Decimal System

The Golden Beads are the primary Montessori math material used to introduce a child to the decimal system. Glass “unit beads” and “ten bars” are paired with wooden “hundred squares” and “thousand cubes” to create a hands-on learning experience that teaches place value up to 9, 999. 

The Golden Beads are a flexible set of materials that are used for multiple lessons, which include:

  • Introduction to the decimal system – naming each place value and comparing the quantity of each part (units, tens, hundreds, thousands)
  • The 45-Layout – setting up quantities from 1 unit to 9 units, then 10 to 90, 100 to 900, and 1,000 to 9,000. Numeral cards for each are matched with the quantity, represented by the Golden Beads. The name “45-layout” refers to the 45 unit beads, 45 ten bars, 45 hundred squares, and 45 thousand cubes that are required to complete the activity.
  • Introduction to mathematical operations – addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are all introduced with the Golden Beads
Complete! The 45-Layout takes time and concentration.

Mathematical Operations

Over the course of their three years in the Montessori classroom, a child is introduced to the four mathematical operations in a variety of ways and with a variety of materials. Because the Montessori math curriculum moves from concrete to abstract, the understanding of math operations develops over time.  Children physically add, subtract, multiply, and divide with manipulatives, before moving on to memorizing math facts.

The Golden Beads (large manipulatives) and Stamp Game (smaller manipulatives) are used for computing numbers up to 9,999. Small beads, strip boards, and finger charts are used to encourage memorization of math facts and to introduce concepts like the commutative property (3 + 4 = 4 + 3 or 6 x 7 = 7 x 6). 

Additional Math Lessons for Kindergarten

Here at Children’s House, we maintain mixed-age classrooms. This means that any child who is ready to receive a new, more advanced math lesson, will have the opportunity to do so. This applies to any of the materials listed above. It is not uncommon for an older child to work alongside a younger classmate, showing what they know. Teaching a friend to do a new lesson is a reinforcement of the lesson itself.

There are, however, a few exceptions. We reserve some of the more abstract concepts for the kindergarten year. These lessons are taught in small groups with individual practice to follow:

  • Time – introduction to the clock and telling time to the hour and half-hour
  • Money – identifying the different coins and bills and learning their value and practice counting money
  • Measurement – learning how to use a ruler and tape measure to measure inches and feet
  • Temperature – understanding the thermometer and how to track the weather 
  • Calendar – learning the days of the week, months of the year, and seasons in order

The Montessori math materials provide years of hands-on learning for the Montessori child. After three years in the classroom, most children will have a solid foundation of quantity, place value, and the mathematical operations. They are ready to move on to elementary and the wider world of math!

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“Is it too late to enroll?” and other FAQs about Mid-Year Enrollment

The start to the school year may have been unlike any other, but we hit our stride and had a great fall! Together we enjoyed many of our favorite fall activities and are looking forward to lots more fun in the coming months. The good news is, it’s not too late to enroll your child at Children’s House! Here’s what you need to know.

Who should consider a mid-year enrollment?

We encourage you to consider a winter/spring start date, if your child:

  • has just turned 3 or will turn 3 in the next few months and appears “ready for more”
  • is currently enrolled in a distance learning program or has been at home, but would benefit from in-person learning and socialization 
  • needs a little extra time to adjust to new routines and people
  • is “advanced” or “behind” their peers and you are concerned about their progress

Do other children start mid-year?

Yes! It’s quite common for children to join us throughout the winter and spring months leading up to summer. If you plan to enroll your child for the summer or even next fall, consider bumping up that start date and taking advantage of the slower pace of mid-year. It’s actually a great time to get started! Our current students are already settled into the school routine, which means the teachers can give a little extra attention to those new children who join us now. 

Isn’t it too late to enroll? Haven’t they missed too much already?

We had a busy start to the year! The children made apple butter, carved a Halloween pumpkin, and collected food for a Thanksgiving food drive. We learned about North America in Geography, vertebrates and invertebrates in Science, and Claude Monet in art. We spent time outside on our beautiful natural playground every day and enjoyed hiking the trail that surrounds the school. But there’s still plenty of school year left! Even children who join us mid-year benefit from our enriching classroom curriculum and calendar of fun events. There will be winter nature activities, new continents to discover, and don’t forget gardening in the spring! Join us!

Check out the pictures of all the fun fall activities we’ve been up to on our Facebook page.

Are you still wearing masks? How’s that going?

It took no time at all for the children to adjust to school life in masks. They are absolute rockstars and we are so proud of them. Every day they show us their flexibility and willingness to adjust and go with the flow! We’re happy to talk with you one-on-one and address any concerns you may have about your child wearing a mask for the duration of their school day. You can also read about the precautions we are taking with regards to COVID-19 here.

How do we take a tour? 

We are conducting all tours virtually until further notice. You can call us at 703-481-6678 and schedule a virtual tour or hit the button below and use the “book now” button on our Facebook page. On the day of your tour Ms. Cinthia will contact you with the WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger video and will take you around the school. She’ll show you the classrooms and the playground, and answer any questions you have. If you decide that Children’s House is a good fit for your child and your family, she will go over the rest of the enrollment process with you and send you the appropriate forms.

Do you have a lot of spaces left?

We currently have limited spaces available in all three age groups and programs, with enrollment numbers changing frequently. For the most up-to-date information, give us a call: 703-481-6678.

It’s not too late to enroll! Give us a call and schedule your tour today! We look forward to welcoming you to our CHMS family!

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Five Benefits of Montessori Education

Choosing a preschool for your child can feel like a daunting task. Depending on where you live, your options might be limited or seem endless. If there is a Montessori school option in your area, consider these five benefits of Montessori education and see if Montessori is right for your child.

Benefits of Montessori Education #1: 

Maria Montessori developed her method to address key developmental needs of different ages. 

Developmental changes in young children can appear to happen overnight. A child who struggles with a particular task one day, can have success the next day and never look back. The Montessori classroom meets the needs of a three year age group. With materials that address the development of three, four, and five year olds, there is a fluidity to growth and progress.

Montessori classrooms are mixed age, compared to traditional preschools, which tend to group children by age: a “threes” room or a “fours” room, for example. Rather than move a child from one classroom to another as they “age-out” of a class, Montessori classrooms provide a wider range of materials. A child’s developmental needs are met consistently, without the disruption that comes from changing classrooms.

Benefits of Montessori Education #2: 

Montessori teachers meet the needs of the individual children in their care.

Maria Montessori’s philosophy, “follow the child,” is a guiding thought in the Montessori classroom. There are no expectations for advancement that are based purely on age. Instead, each child is seen as an individual and the lessons and materials to which they are guided, will reflect their interests and abilities. 

Children progress through the materials at their own pace, guided by the experience and insight of their teacher. When a child is ready for the next step or the next level, the teacher gives them that lesson, regardless of their age. Similarly, if a child needs additional practice or time spent with a particular lesson or concept, they can do so without feeling like they are being ‘held back.’ 

Benefits of Montessori Education #3: 

The Montessori method is an approach to learning that instills a sense of organization and order in the child.

Every material on the shelves in a Montessori classroom is carefully thought out and placed there on purpose. There is a progression of difficulty, from left to right and top to bottom. Each curriculum area is organized on its own set of shelves in its own place in the classroom. The teacher arranges the materials in baskets or on trays and everything that a child needs in order to complete a work, is contained therein. 

When a teacher presents a lesson, she is purposeful with her movements and language. She moves slowly and with intention so that the child can follow along and duplicate her actions when they choose the same work another time. Teachers model the organization and order they are expecting from a child. They carry materials carefully from their spaces on the shelf, complete the activity in a specific order, and return everything neatly to its place. 

Benefits of Montessori Education #4: 

Montessori classrooms are set up to encourage independence in even the youngest of children. 

Visitors to a Montessori classroom are often surprised at how calm the classroom appears to be. Children work alone or in pairs, and everyone is busy and engaged. From the very first day in their new classroom, children learn how to do everyday things for themselves. A new child, in his first week, receives enough small lessons to ensure that he has options of activities that he can choose for himself. This helps build his confidence and adds to his knowledge bank of ‘this is how we do things at our school.’

As accidents happen and issues arise, the teacher will address them and show the child how to correct the situation. Within the first month of school most of the children will learn how to clean up a spill, sweep up their crumbs, roll their work rug, and put their own work away. They will learn to ask for help when they need it, but they will also learn that they are capable, in their own way, of doing more than they might expect.

Montessori educators encourage parents to carry this independence home. Click the link to receive your copy of Montessori at Home.  This free guide is filled with tips and easy adaptations you can make at home to encourage your child to be more independent.

Benefits of Montessori Education #5: 

Montessori education encourages creativity and problem solving.

One of the most notable benefits of Montessori education is that Montessori kids become curious learners. They make choices about their learning and are active participants in the process. The Montessori teacher is the guide who follows the child; the child is leading his or her own voyage of discovery. Rather than simply provide answers, teachers ask questions. Instead of praising a child’s accomplishment, a Montessori teacher acknowledges the effort that went into completing the task or learning a new skill, naming characteristics like perseverance, concentration, and discipline.

Montessori encourages children to develop internal motivation, rather than relying on others for external praise. They learn to look within and identify that they are the one responsible for their own success, capable of rising to new challenges. They learn to think creatively and tackle new obstacles with confidence.

Additional Resources:

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The Importance of Circle Time in Montessori

Please note: Some images used in this post were taken before the pandemic. Children and staff currently wear face masks and adhere to our COVID-19 Precautions plan.

A Montessori classroom is a busy place to be on a typical morning. Children are engaged in lessons, both self-directed and teacher-lead. They are working, active, and engaged and the time passes quickly. Before you know, it’s Circle Time! The importance of Circle Time in Montessori can not be understated. Circle Time is a key component to the classroom dynamic and building a sense of community among classmates.

What is Circle Time?

Here, at Children’s House, Circle Time takes place at the end of the morning work period and again in the afternoon. It is a period of time in which all the children join the teacher as a group. Circle Time typically lasts between 20 and 30 minutes and is a mixture of routines, traditions, music, movement, conversation, learning, and fun.

At the end of the morning, the teacher invites the class to the Circle Time space with a gentle bell or chime and indicates that work time is ending. The children clean up their work and make their way to the designated area. This is one of many transitions that happen during the day and the classroom will now be prepared for lunch time.

Afternoon Circle Time takes place at the end of the afternoon work period (for older students) and nap time (for younger). We are transitioning from our school day to our aftercare time and some children will be going home soon, while others stay until the later afternoon. Circle Time is the bridge between activities and allows children to anticipate what happens next in their day.

Creating a Sense of Community

Circle Time is a chance to gather together as a class and participate in a variety of activities as a small community. It is a chance for children to share, either in a show-and-tell format or simply conversationally as they wait for the their classmates to clean up and join the circle. It is a chance to look at pictures of a new baby sister or brother, to talk about what happened over the weekend, and an opportunity to raise their hand and tell everyone what their Halloween costume is going to be.

Circle Time is a time to celebrate birthdays and other milestones: a lost tooth, riding a bike without training wheels, or a big first, like a trip on an airplane or moving into a new house. In sharing in each others lives, the class grows closer together and more connected. Even in the midst of a pandemic, with social distancing guidelines and mask-wearing policies in place, Circle Time is a time for togetherness and connection.

Learning Through Group Lessons

Most Montessori lessons, like math and language arts, are meant for an individual child, but some lessons lend themselves to a larger group format. There are many science, geography, and art lessons that can be presented at circle time to the whole class. At Children’s House, these lessons are available to any child, regardless of age, so it’s important that all the children receive the lessons before new materials are added to the shelves.

Geography and science lessons lend themselves to conversation and Circle Time is the perfect time to start this conversation. A teacher might present a new lesson or introduce a new topic, but the follow up conversation over the next few days or even weeks, is where much of the learning takes place.

For example, this fall we have been learning about habitats. The children have had a group lesson at Circle Time on a new material that Ms. Keturah made. They learned about what habitats are, how different animals need different habitats, and how habitats need the same key components in order for animals and plants to thrive: food, water, shelter, and a place to raise young. They sang songs about habitats, read stories about them, and took the lessons outside to work in our school gardens and hike the trail around our property. The Circle Time lesson was just the beginning!

The Role of Each Child

Circle Time is where children learn from each other and work together. Younger students model the behavior of their older classmates and older students love the extra responsibility that comes with being a kindergartener and a leader. The morning Circle Time comes at the end of work time and the preparation for lunch. There are jobs to be done, work to be cleaned up, and a classroom to put back in order. Children help water plants, tidy shelves, and sweep the floor. Everyone works together to make sure the classroom is ready for the next phase of the day.

Traditions and Routine

A regular, predictable routine is so important for young children. A child who can not yet tell time or a read a calendar and does not have much input into their daily schedule, can use routines to navigate their day and know what comes next. Routines give children a sense of control.

Circle Time routines here at Children’s House include choosing and reading a Virtue card together; taking five minutes each day to read the card and repeat the affirmation is a touch point for both children and adults.

Everyone has a favorite Circle Time song, but certain songs are only sung at certain times. The Months of the Year is our birthday song, and Make New Friends But Keep the Old is only sung at the end of the year when we say goodbye to the friends who are leaving for new schools.

And, of course, holiday traditions are some of our favorites! In November we’ll collect non-perishable food for a Thanksgiving Food Drive. In December we’ll make ornaments to decorate our “Mitten Tree” as we collect hats and mittens for children in need. And in February, our Valentine’s celebration is a school-wide favorite; and it all happens at Circle Time.

But, for now, it’s still October! This is the week that we will carve our class pumpkin for Halloween and read some of our favorite Halloween books. It’s time to pull out the well-worn and much-loved CASSETTE TAPE — yes, cassette tape! — of Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman that has been entertaining us — at Circle Time — for many, many years.

Additional Resources:

You Might Also Like These Posts from Children’s House Montessori School of Reston:

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Back to School, Back to Montessori

Dear Ms Keturah and Ms Helena,

I have no words! All of you are just AWESOME and I mean that from the bottom of my heart! L**** was so happy when I picked her up this afternoon! She had a great day and filled me in on all the things she’d done. And while I listened to all of her stories, the thing that struck me the most was, that there was no mention of having to wear the mask the whole day, of the social distancing etc.

The only thing that she did mention was how they had to cover their work [..] when done so that the teacher could clean it for the next friend. This told me just one thing – how you’ll have worked so hard to make the ‘new’ normal seem so very normal! We are so grateful to all of you, and blessed to be a part of this school!

All our support – always,

Yolande and Rahul

chms parents

We’re back! The 2020-2021 school year is officially underway! And, after all the planning, the strategizing, the cleaning, and the wondering, we are happy to report that it was a really good week.

It was so amazing to be back together again, to reconnect with old friends, and meet some new faces. The children were anxious to get to work and our classrooms were buzzing with the sounds of busy hands.

These friends were so happy to see each other again!

Children are a lot more flexible than adults give them credit for. The kids slid right into their new routines: working out of their individual supply boxes, bringing work to their marked tables, and keeping their masks in place (for the most part!). Circle time is still a time for songs, stories, and group lessons, and the playground is still fun. School is back!

We know how hard it is right now for parents to commit to a school program when there are still so many unknowns in our daily lives. We appreciate all of our families who have placed their trust in us and want you to know that we are committed to making your child’s experience at Children’s House the best that it can be.

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to send your child to school this year or keep them home, give us a call and talk to us about your concerns. We’re here and we’re willing to work with you to make sure your questions are answered, your child is safe, and you’re comfortable with your decision.

It’s sure to be a memorable year and we don’t want to do it without you! There are just a few spaces left in each of our programs. Contact us to schedule your tour!

Make sure you’re subscribed to our blog to get the latest posts delivered!

We are currently enrolling for the upcoming school year. Click here to book your Virtual Tour.

Questions? Call us at 703-481-6678 or email us through the form below.

Back to School We Go!

As we get closer to the start of our 2020-2021 school year, there are still so many questions and concerns regarding the safety of returning to the classroom. 

Here at Children’s House, we want you to know that we are ready to get back to work! 

Will there be a learning curve as we navigate the challenges of teaching three to six year olds during an ongoing pandemic? Of course there will be. We’ll take it one day at a time and adjust course as needed. 

Do we have all the answers? Of course we don’t, but we are committed to following science-based recommendations to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of our staff, students, and families. 

Teacher Training Week

Our teachers have returned to school for the week in preparation for our re-opening. This is traditionally a week to reconnect after a long summer; a time to gather, reflect, and plan. We usually bring in inspirational trainers who reignite our passion for teaching and remind us why we do what we do. There are staff meetings, classroom team meetings, and time spent preparing the classroom for our students’ arrival.

This year will look a little different.

We’ll talk about sanitizing procedures, our new drop-off and pick-up procedures, and all of the other changes to our daily schedule that we have made to adhere to CDC and health department recommendations. Most importantly, however, we will talk about how to connect with our students, how to be there for our families, and how to make the best out of a challenging situation.

There are many unknowns ahead of us as we head back to school this year, but we know one thing for sure: we’ve missed the children! Let’s do this!

Meet the Teachers

We may be facing a year unlike any other, but we have the best staff in town to take on the challenge! Meet the smiling faces behind the masks!

The Sunrise Room

The Sunrise Room is the larger of our two classrooms and we are so lucky to have so much space! The room is open and airy, with large windows that can be opened at the top for plenty of fresh air and ventilation. This room will be for our pre-k and kindergarten children. Our decision to temporarily re-group our students by age, rather than adhere to our usual mixed-age classrooms, was based on guidelines from the Virginia Department of Social Services. Separating the children by age will allow us to keep the two classrooms from sharing space.

Ms. Keturah – Owner, Director, and Certified Montessori Teacher
Ms. Helena – Assistant Director and Certified Montessori Teacher
Ms. Ruth – Montessori Assistant

The Sunset Room

The Sunset Room is the smaller of the two classrooms and it is the perfect space for our three and four year-olds! This classroom also has large windows that face the playground and can be opened at the top for ventilation. It has its own bathroom, which makes it really easy to keep the children from this classroom separated from the Sunrise Room.

Ms. Asma – Certified Montessori Teacher
Ms. Amanda – Certified Lead Teacher

Additional Staff

Ms. Cinthia might be wearing a mask this year, but you can rest assured that she will still be her usual upbeat, smiling, self! She will be leading tours, managing registrations, and doing all of the millions of little things she does so well.

Ms. Arlene will return as our Spanish teacher later this fall when we resume Specials. We will also have music again this year and are in the process of finalizing that program.

Ms. Cinthia – Office Manager
Ms. Arlene – Spanish Teacher

It’s sure to be a memorable year and we don’t want to do it without you! There are just a few spaces left in each of our programs. Contact us today!

Questions? Call us at 703-481-6678 or email us through the form below.

Yes, we are open! Here’s what to expect:

Our 2020-2021 school year is underway! If you have a preschool, pre-k, or kindergarten-aged child and you need in-person child care and education, five days a week, please give us a call at 703-481-6678 today!

We have two classrooms that are operating under our updated COVID-19 precautions. There are only a handful of spaces left in each class and we anticipate that both classes will be full soon.

At this time we expect

  • to be open five days a week for all students
  • in-person learning with no online classes, unless required due to unforeseen closure
  • to maintain our normal program groups (part-day, school day, and full-day) with no split schedules

We have made modifications in the following areas:

  • drop off and pick up procedures have changed in order to do a daily health checks and minimize the number of people entering our building
  • full-day pick up time has temporarily changed — parents must pick up their children between 4:30 and 5:00 — in order to allow our staff to adhere to new cleaning and sanitation requirements
  • cleaning and disinfecting procedures have increased
  • masks are required for all staff and children
  • school events and family gatherings will be paused until such time as it is safe
  • parent education events will look a little different — stay tuned for more information

We are using all current available resources from The Center for Disease Control (CDC), Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS), and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to make our plans and are committed to:

  • Providing a clean, safe learning environment for our students and staff
  • Adhering to current, science-based recommendations for managing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus
  • Maintaining open lines of communication about the health of our community
  • Making them most of out of our school year and having fun together

Additional Resources:

Questions? Call us at 703-481-6678 or email us through the form below.

Preparing to Return to School: 3 Steps for Independence

Here at Children’s House, we have been hard at work preparing for the upcoming school year. We are rearranging our schedule and our daily routines in order to better accommodate new health guidelines and to ensure the safety of our community, to the best of our ability. For a complete list of the changes we are making, check out our COVID-19 Precautions page.

If your child is enrolled in a Montessori program, then you know how we feel about independence. As we prepare for a school year unlike any other, it is doubly important for children to be independent in certain areas, so as to ensure minimal physical contact between the staff and students. The first day of school will be here before we know it, so consider these steps you can take at home, to ensure your child is happy, healthy, and ready for this next adventure! 

Step 1: Dress for Independence

Before you send your child off to school in those cute little tennis shoes and jeans, make sure they know how to tie, button, and zip! If they can’t undo their own zippers or re-tie their own shoes, please rethink their clothing. Loose-fitting, elastic-waisted pants, shirts without buttons, and shoes with Velcro fasteners are the way to go. As we strive for minimal physical contact, it is imperative that children do as much for themselves as they are able. 

When cooler weather comes, have your child practice putting on their new jacket or winter coat and gloves or mittens. Select clothes with easy zippers or fasteners and ask yourself, “Can he do it by himself or will a teacher need to help him?” Opt for independence, over fashion, please. 

Step 2: Practice Opening Food and Drink Containers

We want to ensure that your child’s food is not touched by anyone else before it is eaten. For that reason, teachers will not be assisting children with containers, lids, straw wrappers, etc. In order for your child to have a successful experience with lunch and snack time, be sure to send in foods that are either completely open and ready to eat, or can easily be opened by the child themself. 

  • Sandwiches should be wrapped in paper or in a plastic baggie
  • Fruit should be washed and cut up, if necessary, in a disposable bag or container
  • Only pack yogurt, applesauce, fruit cups, bags of chips or crackers, etc. if your child can independently open them 100% of the time
  • Consider purchasing compostable lunch containers that will be easy to open and are environmentally friendly

Step 3: Practice Independence in Personal Hygiene

Children are not exactly known for their amazing personal hygiene habits. Let’s do our best to keep our germs to ourselves and practice these at home:

  • Proper Hand-Washing – Before and after meals, after using the bathroom, after sneezing or blowing their nose, and after hands go into mouths. Teach your child to wash their hands often and properly. Their teachers will thank you!
  • How to Wipe After Going to the Bathroom – Outside of the fact that all children eventually need to learn to clean themselves properly after using the bathroom, good bathroom habits will help minimize the need for assistance from a teacher, which is a good thing for everyone involved. 
  • How to Use a Tissue – The more independent your child can be in all areas of personal hygiene, the better! Practice proper tissue techniques before your child gets the sniffles, including disposing of the tissue and washing hands when they’re done. And — when they DO get the sniffles, keep them home!
  • Wearing a Mask – Make sure you have plenty of time to get your child comfortable with the idea of wearing a mask at school. Let them pick out their own masks, incentive them to wear them for longer periods of time, if it’s a challenge, and educate them about the importance of wearing masks to keep others safe. 

Choose Your Words Wisely

Language matters! As we prepare for a new normal, be sure to use positive language to discuss these changes with your child. Try to avoid scary words or transferring your own fears about the unknown to your child. Some children will be starting school for the very first time — this is still an exciting time for your family, so celebrate it! 

Other children are returning to school after a very long absence — remind them of all the things they loved about their school and reassure them that their teachers are there to keep them safe.

  • “I’m so happy you get to see your friends again! I bet they’ve missed you, too!”
  • “We’re going to practice washing our hands properly so that we can help keep our friends and teachers healthy.”
  • “Wearing a mask helps us keep our germs away from others.”
  • “If you want to take applesauce for lunch, we need to practice opening the container, so that you can do it yourself.”
  • “You’re going to have so much fun playing on the playground with the other kids! I can’t wait to hear all about your day!”

Our Commitment to You

Here at Children’s House, we are committed to:

  • Providing a clean, safe learning environment for our students and staff
  • Adhering to current, science-based recommendations for managing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus
  • Maintaining open lines of communication about the health of our community
  • Making them most of out of our school year and having fun together

We are so excited to see your child’s smiling face again and no mask is going to change that! Stay safe, wash your hands, and we’ll see you in August!

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Questions? Call us at 703-481-6678 or email us through the form below.

One Day Closer to “Normal” and Here’s What We Know

As we inch closer to reopening businesses and schools, we are all trying to anticipate what our new normal will look like. Will we all be wearing masks to school and checking temperatures upon arrival? Do we need to forgo hugs and handshakes when we greet our students for the first time in months? Will class sizes be limited in number or schedules be determined by a variety of factors? We don’t know yet, but there are a few things we do know and we want to share them with you.

#1: We are excited to see your children again

We have already missed over two months of their young lives! They’ll be taller when they come back. Their hair will be different and someone will have lost a tooth by now. They’ll have new stories to share and lots of things to tell us. You may not have been traveling or on some grand, family adventure, but there are still memories being made.

They’ll tell us about your family walks and how you had ice-cream for dinner that one time. We’ll find out that Daddy makes good pancakes and Mommy does all the voices when she reads books at night. And, yes… they might even spill the beans about how many times they watched Frozen II! We’ll listen to their stories, just happy to hear their voices and see their faces again, in person, with no screens between us.

#2: We are anxious to be part of your routine again

Remember routines? Remember getting up, getting dressed, making breakfast, packing lunches, and heading out the door? We do! We love routines and we know how important they are for young children. We’re anxious to get back on a schedule and into a routine that includes you and your family! We’re ready for lessons and circle time, playtime and our daily Virtue pick. We can’t wait to get back to work!

Will the routine be different? Of course it will, but “Flexibility” is one of our favorite Virtues, so we’ll be calling on it in the weeks and months to come. We’ll find “imaginative new ways to do things” and “adjust when something unexpected happens.” We hope you will help us as we all adjust to a new normal.

#3: Classrooms weren’t meant to be silent

A typical morning in a Montessori classroom is busy! Children are working, some are quietly independent, others are talking to their friends. You might hear a teacher giving a lesson or the running water from someone cleaning out their paint cups at the sink. The sound of footsteps, the scrape of trays on tables, and the clinking of glassware from the Practical Life shelf create the buzz and hum of daily life.

Right now the silence is deafening and the classrooms feel cold and empty. We’re ready to put new work on the shelves, open the windows, and bring back the chatter and laughter we have so missed. There’s a quiet that happens during the Great Period that we absolutely love. It’s the quiet that falls when everyone is concentrating, working hard on their chosen lessons. The classroom gets quiet and, sometimes, you could hear a pin drop. That silence is amazing, but this silence? It’s not the same and we’re ready to be done with it.

#4: The playground has been lonely

Playgrounds without children are lonely places. We are ready for laughter and shouting! Bring on the dinosaur roars and the butterfly dances! We’re ready to spend time outside! Our gardens need tending, our sand area needs digging, and our treehouse deck is waiting to be swept.

We’ve missed spring at Children’s House! We’ve missed flowers blooming and the lacy green leaves appearing on the trees. There have been baby birds hatching and fawns in the forest and we’ve missed them all. Summer will bring it’s share of delights — the butterflies, alone, are worth it — but nothing beats spring!

While we’ve been safe at home, our clematis has been busy blooming without us!

Additional Resources:

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We are open for the 2020-2021 school year! In order to maintain a safer environment for our staff and students, we are limiting the number of people in our building. All tours will be conducted VIRTUALLY until further notice.

Please call 703-481-6678 and leave a message or contact Cinthia (cinthia@childrenshouse-montessori.com) or Keturah (keturah@childrenshouse-montessori.com) to schedule your tour today.

For more information: COVID-19 Precautions: Preparing to Open Safely in the Fall