EXPLORE OUR COMMUNITIES
What will you see in each classroom at Park Cities Montessori?
We have three classrooms or, as we call them, “communities” here at Park Cities Montessori. They are designed using the mixed age grouping method you see in traditional Montessori schools.
Nido: children who are not yet walking, between 3 and 15 months
Toddler: children who are walking, between 16 months and 2.5 years
Children’s House: children from 2.5 years to 6 years
Each community is unique and designed to offer what the children need to flourish developmentally.
As you continue reading you will find more information about the Montessori curriculum in each community. Please feel free to reach out if you have any other specific questions.
3 - 15 months
The word Nido means “Nest” in Italian. This is a Montessori environment for infants. Our infant room at Park Cities Montessori has a 3:1 ratio ensuring that all children receive individual attention in a nurturing environment.
Our lead guide is Montessori Certified for ages 0-3 years and has experience guiding infants to reach their fullest potential.
In our Nido community children have ample opportunities to develop their skills in the following areas:
Development of Movement: Control and Coordination
In order to develop control and coordination, you will notice that there is mostly open floor space with soft mats and rugs allowing open areas for free movement. We do not use any type of device that keeps children in one place such as walkers, jumpers, or exersaucers.
You will see low climbing obstacles such as pillows and raised cushions, wall mirrors placed at floor level to encourage tummy time and self discovery, floor beds, as well as custom designed child size furniture for the age and size of the child.
The Nido community regularly works on free movement activities, rhymes and songs with accompanying movements, maximum effort activities, and push and pull toys.
Daily outdoor movement experiences are also given in the dedicated infant space right outside the classroom.
To promote development in the areas of sensroi-motor you will see the use of back and white contrast mobiles, a variety of visual mobiles with different colors and shapes, and a variety of grasping and kicking mobiles using different colors, shapes, textures, and sounds.
Some other objects you might see in the classroom to foster growth in sensori-motor would be the ribbon and bell, simple shape sorting objects, rattles, bells, scarves, soft toys, nesting objects, object permanence activities, blocks, exploration baskets, musical instruments, and music.
In the area of practical life infants are introduced to care of self, care of the environment, and grace and courtesy. It will not be until they transition to the toddler community that they would be expected to perform practical life skills independently. Some of the care of self skills that infants are introduced to are using a tissue, using the toilet, washing hands and face, dressing and undressing, and self-feeding. Some of the care of environment skills that infants are introduced to are replacing materials on the shelf, drying spilled water, setting the table, serving oneself, and watering plants. The grace and courtesy skills introduced are greeting and saying goodbye, gentle touch with others, and respecting work and space of others.
Lastly, the infants at Park Cities Montessori are surrounded by loving care givers that aim to develop strong language skills. Children in the Nido community will have ample communication, vocabulary, and expressing and receptive language experiences through books, songs, reciprocal vocalization, verbal conversations with the children, naming objects in the environment, and vocabulary picture cards. Other works that you will see present would be visual tracking experiences and puzzles with 1-2 pieces.
Our Nido community is truly a nest where children blossom into their fullest potential and are completely prepared to meet the milestones of the toddler community to follow.
16 months - 2.5 years
Our Toddler Community at Park Cities Montessori has an 8:1 ratio to ensure that the guides in the classroom are able to meet the needs of the children during their greatest developmental gains. The Lead Guide is a Montessori certified guide with years of experience guiding toddlers.
All of our toddler guides recognize that the qualities, skills and behaviors of the adults responsible for meeting the needs of these young children is incredibly important during the most important stage of self construction. This is the crucial time in which children are absorbing experiences, making early decisions about the kind of person they are, and about the world. They are developing basic trust in themselves and in their environment, which will affect them for the rest of their lives.
In our Toddler community children have ample opportunities to work on the next level of developmental skills in the following areas:
Development of Coordinated Movement
Development of Fine and Gross Motor Skills
Personal Care and Health
Care of the Environment
Development of Grade and Courtesy
Developmental Art Materials and Activities
Development of Oral Language
Development of Vocabulary and Classification
Gross motor development for toddlers is of utmost importance. We aim to give our toddlers ample experiences to grow in this area. You will notice open space for free movement activities in the classroom and in our outdoor play space you will see intentionally designed areas for toddlers that allow for climbing over and through, a balance beam, a small bar for hanging, tricycles, slides, and objects for pushing and pulling.
In the classroom students have the opportunity to refine their fine motor skills with various activities that involve transferring, scooping, squeezing, stringing, twisting, pouring, rolling, folding, and opening and closing items.
Practical life skills are the skills that are focused on the most in our toddler communities. Toddlers are naturally curious and want to learn to do basic tasks on their own much more so than academic work. You will notice that the toddler community has multiple areas of the classroom and self work dedicated to practical life skills.
The first area includes personal care and health. Children learn dressing and undressing, using the toilet, washing hands, washing objects around the space, folding and putting away clothes, putting on and taking off a coat and shoes, and using a tissue. By the time children at PCM leave the toddler community they are doing all of these skills and more independently.
Our toddlers are taught to take pride in and care for their environment. This is done through teaching children how to use their work mat and rug, replacing materials on the shelf, setting the table, wiping the table, sweeping and dusting, cleaning up spills, mopping the floor, washing dishes and windows, caring for plants, flower arranging, and much more!
Grace and courtesy is at the forefront of our teaching in every community but especially in the toddler community as they are just learning how to interact appropriately with others. Children will develop a strong understanding in this area through the assistance of their guides and other children in their community. Not just in the toddler community but in our school you will see students that greet each other by saying hello and goodbye, ask for help, give assistance to others, use respectful requests and polite conversations, use a gentle touch, and show respect for work and workspace of others.
Our toddler community begins to explore developmental art materials and activities. The use of play dough, chalk boards, paint, crayons, simple scissors, and glue are available for daily use as part of their work cycle.
In order to ignite the child’s senses you will see shelf work that focuses on each of the senses individually. Some examples you will see are stacking objects, object permanence boxes, geometric shape boxes, puzzles, sorting, color matching, music, mystery bags, textures and temperature work, and smelling and tasting experiences. We continue this work through our outdoor natural play space with sand, and other natural elements.
Finally, we place an important focus in our toddler community on the development of oral language. Children are given multiple opportunities to engage in conversations, oral language games, singing and storytelling, books, rhyming games, and reciprocal vocalization. Continuing the language work to develop vocabulary, children complete work that involves naming objects in the environment, object to object matching, object to picture matching, and picture to picture matching.
As you can tell alot happens in the toddler community to prepare them for the Children’s House community where the more rigorous academic work begins. You will be amazed at what all your child comes out of the toddler community capable of doing. They are capable of so much and at PCM we guide them to reach their highest capabilities.
2.5 - 6 years
“Children’s House,” is a Montessori term name for a classroom that is for children between the ages of 2.5 - 6 years of age. Other schools might call this classroom Casa, preschool, early childhood, or primary.
Our Children’s House community at Park Cities Montessori has a 10:1 ratio to ensure that the guides in the classroom are able to meet the needs of the children and their levels of learning. The Lead Guide is a Montessori certified guide with years of experience guiding primary aged children.
In this mixed age environment, children are capable of choosing how they wish to learn, as well as finding older mentors. During this period, children are just beginning to understand how their body works, so much of the primary classroom coursework involves coordination and control.
There are four characteristics of the Montessori primary classroom that separate it from a typical preschool:
Children always have access to materials and will find the classroom accessible.
Children are given responsibility for their own work, meaning that they need to display an awareness of others, keep the classroom clean and tidy, put things away when done, behaving as role models for younger students, and more.
Children have freedom within limits.
The classroom is designed to be beautiful and harmonious. Maria Montessori believed that the environment should be pleasing to the eye, as to encourage concentration, calmness, and self-direction. The primary classroom isn’t cluttered, but open and airy.
Our Children’s House community is designed to be enticing and stimulating. Montessori classrooms aren’t meant to focus on the teacher, but on the students and the space itself. At times, the classroom is the teacher, and so it is set up much differently from a traditional preschool.
In our community you will feel a sense of calmness through the use of a neutral color scheme. Maria Montessori had a fondness for natural materials, so you will rarely see plastic in the classroom. You will see child size tables and chairs designed to meet the needs of each child’s height in the classroom so that they are comfortable and capable of using the furniture independently. Some tables might be enough for 2 children, while others are large enough to accommodate 6 or 8 children.
You will notice several shelves around the room. These are used to store all of the Montessori materials that children regularly need access to. You will see individual lockers at the child’s height where the children can keep their belongings.
In our Children’s House community children have ample opportunities to develop their skills in the following areas:
Music & Dance
As children enter the Children’s House community they have gained a deeper understanding of the world around them and are beginning to become interested in exploring academic work. Some children entering this community may still be working to master their practical life skills and that is okay! Remember, in accordance with the Montessori philosophy, we “follow the child.” The child will show us when they are ready for academic work. When they are, the guides in the classroom will begin to present lessons in math, language, geography, and history as the child shows interest.
In the Children’s House community children have usually fine tuned their gross motor skills and are working on really perfecting their fine motor skills. You will see multiple shelf works that might include scooping and spooning, squeezing, threading, twisting, pouring, and folding. These works assist children later on when they begin to write.
Continuing with the work from the toddler community children take pride in their environment. They begin to look at their space through a different lens. Children continue to carefully use their work mats and avoid walking on or messing with others. They use the child size furniture with ease, and are able to sweep, dust, mop, and wash items around the room. In the Children’s House community we also have fish and plants that children are able to care for as well as a garden outside their classroom that they help tend to.
In addition to the grace and courtesy lessons that were learned in the toddler community, children work on respectful and polite conversations (e.g. interruptions, apologies, requests), manners for meals and group settings, and classroom procedures.
The personal care and health work in the Children’s House community focuses on strong independence. Children will be responsible for storing their personal belongings and keeping up with them in their designated space. All of the work done in the toddler community is fine tuned and perfected such as dressing, shoe washing, nose-blowing, toileting, and hand washing. In our Children’s House community you will see an extension of the toddler community by adding in food and drink preparation and serving. Children also have weekly opportunities to assist in simple cooking and baking activities.
Looking into more detail about what academic work looks like in our Children’s House community you will find shelves filled with sensorial, math, language, science, geography, and art items spread throughout the classroom.
Between the ages of 3-6, children are using their senses and developing them rapidly. The Montessori primary classroom materials are designed to help the children broaden their understanding of sound, touch, and hearing, as well as how to be more logical and perceptive.
Common sensorial materials include:
Knobbed and knobless cylinders
Touch boards and tablets
The Montessori math curriculum provides materials to the children that give them the ability to discover mathematics at their own pace. There are five groups of math-related activities in the primary classroom:
0-10 lessons that introduce students to counting to ten. The materials used include sandpaper numbers, spindle boxes, number rods, and memory games.
Decimals are taught using the golden bead materials, as well as decimal tray, building tray, and exchange tray.
Linear counting then develops the concept of larger numbers and skip counting. The teen board, ten board, 100 board, and chains are used to teach these concepts.
Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division follow linear counting. Rods, strip boards, and golden bead materials are used.
By the time students are between the ages 3-6, they have already absorbed a lot of language knowledge. Now, writing is taught in preparation of learning how to read. Spoken language is emphasized in the Montessori classroom, and the whole environment is crafted so children can see and hear vocabulary. They are also encouraged to communicate with the teachers and other students.
Sandpaper letters, books, flash cards, and other items are used to solidify their understanding of words. Then, logical steps are taken to get them to form sentences and read fluently.
The science curriculum aims to tap into a child’s natural inquisitiveness, getting them to answer their own questions about how the world works. The scientific method is utilized to teach students about procedure and critical thinking. Montessori also introduces students to nature as much as possible.
Lessons involve the following:
Plants and animals
Invertebrates and vertebrates
Life cycles of plants and animals
Plant and animal anatomy
Children are ready to learn about the world around them. The primary classroom is equipped to do just that. With story books, models of the physical world, puzzle maps, and other hands-on activities, children can learn about the world and geography.
Within the prepared environment, you will find objects and tools that teach the following:
Different land and water forms
Capitals of countries and states
The primary art curriculum often builds off of practical skills. For 3-6 year olds, art is all about enhancing fine motor control and allowing for self expression. This also means introducing the child to various forms of art, such as painting and sculpture. Children hopefully can develop an everlasting appreciation of art, especially as a means of non-verbal communication.
You will be truly amazed at all your child can learn after being in an authentic Montessori environment for the first 6 years of their life. It is truly remarkable. We hope you choose to find a school home here at Park Cities Montessori! Please reach out with any further questions or wonderings.