The Children’s House, as the name suggests, is a space designed especially for the child. We welcome children from three to six years of age.
They have a trilingual environment (Basque, English and Spanish), with two adult guides in the classroom. One of the guides communicates with the children exclusively in Basque and the other in English, both are working with the children throughout the day. Scientific vocabulary is explained in the three languages (parts of a flower, countries, capitals, mathematical concepts, etc.) hence a third support guide regularly comes in to explain these concept in Spanish.
The children take an active role in the upkeep of the environment, which is divided into five principal areas: practical life, sensorial, language, mathematics and culture (includes science, history, culture, music, art, etc.). All of this learning is enhanced by gardening activities and looking after animals both inside and outside of the classroom.
The Children’s House classrooms are filled with a great variety of Montessori materials, which are presented to the children with a learning objective. The environment is carefully prepared to foment the child’s development towards independence, concentration, sequential thinking, balance, self-esteem and happiness. Part of the work in the classroom takes place through movement, touch and exploration. We encourage sensorial development, introduce mathematics and language concepts, as well as offer the adequate environment for developing practical abilities needed for every day life.
A typical day at Montessori School Vitoria-Gasteiz
|9:00-12:00||Entrance, put on slippers. Classroom experience with the materials (music, art, language, maths, geography, experiments, etc.). Prepare the classroom snack (homemade bread, fruit, yoghurt, cucumber). The children cook on a daily basis and food is available throughout the day.|
|12:00-12:45||We go outside, enjoy the rain, the vegetable garden, playing…|
|13:00-13:45||Lunch. We eat together in the classroom (children and teachers/guides). We share the moment, talk, and enjoy the food.|
|13:45-15:30||Classroom experience, stories, songs, art, music, experimentation, working with the inside or outside garden, and yoga.|
Healthy snacks are prepared by the children in class every day (sliced fruit and vegetables, natural juices, vegetable pates, homemade bread and cookies, boiled eggs, etc.). The materials are always available to the children for uninterrupted experimentation. The children are surrounded by a trilingual classroom environment, which is a place to enjoy English and Basque as an integral part of the class.
Fluid and rich communication is adapted to the child’s learning, so that he/she is enjoying the materials.
Daily communication with parents, personal meetings with each family, as well as trimestral pedagogical school meetings for interested parents.
These exercises help a child develop fine motor skills (for writing) and coordination. The Practical life activities are the first ones introduced to the child when he/she arrives to the Children’s House. They are very attractive activities that often result familiar: opening and closing boxes, playing with jars and chains, pouring from one recipient to another, washing tables and cloths, etc. All materials are adapted to the children’s size and strength, they are made of natural materials (glass, porcelain, wood…) – not toys- and are beautiful. These exercises help the child to acquire more autonomy in his / her environment, which leads to better self-confidence and self-esteem.
In the sensorial area we find materials that were specifically designed for all our senses by Maria Montessori. The child works with the discrimination of one sense or another, and explores sensations of color, weight, length, texture, taste, smell, sound and other dimensions. In some materials, the indirect purpose of mathematical formulas exists such as the binomial cube and the trinomial or Pythagoras’ table. At the same time that the child refines the appreciation of detail and sensorial perception, he/she also develops concentration.
Language activities are a basic necessity for children of this age group. Songs, poems, rhymes, tales, and stories are present on a daily basis in a Montessori environment. A Montessori characteristic is that children learn to write before reading. Using this method, the children will have previously been phonetically analyzing the sounds of letters.
When the child is ready, he/she has all the necessary tools to start to form words and phrases. Writing is directly related to what one wants to communicate. Reading –understood as a curiosity for knowing what others think– will come later. It will come when one has first been able to express what one has inside.
Long before the adult introduces activities to the children, he/she has exposed them to many physical sensations of size and quantity (sensorial material) that penetrates the child’s corporal memory. When the child is prepared and interested, he/she is introduced to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. This is always done with concrete materials that the child can see and touch, without passing prematurely to abstraction. Little by little, after plenty of work with the Montessori materials, the child makes way for mental calculation.
The purpose of cultural material is to improve the child’s observational skills and to broaden their view of the world around them.
Geography. Globes, maps of hemispheres, continents, the earth, water shapes, vocabulary cards with words related to the theme, and flags (identify and pair flags and countries).
History: Study of days, weeks, months, years, clocks (hours), day and night, seasons, birthdays, time lines, and festivities.
Botany: Botanic cabinet (sensorial exercise), botanic experiments, parts of a flower.
Zoology: Basic introductory lessons: (live-inert, difference between plants and animals, vertebrate-invertebrate (classes of spineless animals), external parts of fish, reptiles, birds and mammals.
Additional Science: Ecology, astronomy, anatomy, simple machines, geology.
Music and activities: Songs, creative movements, rhythms, instruments, composers, and folkloric dances from different countries.
Art: Paint with tempera, charcoal, crayons, pencils, and pens. Experience cutting, sticking, plasticine, sewing, etc. Gain appreciation of artworks and the masters of art history.