Ages 6 weeks to 18 months The Infant Program follows the Montessori philosophy for infant education which recognizes that infants have sensitive periods of development, those times when a child appears to almost effortlessly learn new skills. Maria Montessori named these sensitive periods: movement, order and language. We have a Montessori certified infant teacher to lead the class, who provides the stimulation, guidance, and nurturing each child needs during these sensitive periods. Our infant classroom provides ample opportunities for children to crawl or walk as they explore their environment. There is a variety of sensory and perceptual experiences, as well as equipment and materials that support large and small motor development. Language development activities include staff reading, talking, singing, showing and naming objects, and engaging in positive interactions with each child (smiling, cuddling, etc.). For each infant, a daily record is maintained and shared with parents which contains the following information: amount of time the infant slept, amount of food consumed and the time, description and time of diaper changes, developmental milestones, and the amount of tummy time for infants who do not yet turn over by themselves. The Infant program is designed for children ages 6 weeks to 18 months. We maintain a child to teacher ratio of 3:1.
Ages 18 months to 3 years The Toddler Program is designed to give each child a positive first school experience and to expand his world beyond the home. The materials and activities in the class satisfy the children’s natural curiosity, sense of order and desire for independence as they learn and explore through their senses. The children are given freedom of choice and movement in a safe and nurturing environment within clearly defined limits. Our primary goal is that our toddlers feel safe and happy and that we are meeting their physical, emotional, social and intellectual needs. The Montessori teachers are there to love them, guide them and support their efforts at mastering their environment, thus building their confidence and independence. This program is designed for children ages 18 months – 3 years. Children do not have to be potty-trained. There are three toddler groups with a child-to-teacher ratio of 5:1. “Little he cares for the knowledge of others; he wants to acquire knowledge of his own…to experience the world through his own unaided efforts.” – Maria Montessori
EARLY Education PROGRAMs
Ages 2 1/2 to 6 years There are six Early Education Programs at MCHL. Each of our Early Education Programs is staffed with a lead teacher and one or more assistant teachers. The teacher prepares the classroom in a highly orderly fashion, with a series of sequential, manipulative and sensorial materials. It is the materials along with the careful guidance of the teachers that bridge the gap between concrete and abstract learning. “Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.” – Chinese Proverb
The Kindergarten Program at MCHL is full day – 8:30 – 3:00. The children spend the morning in their respective early education programs mixed age classes. Being the oldest members of the early education programs fosters self-confidence and leadership as they are occasionally asked to assist their younger classmates. During the morning class the kindergartners work throughout the classroom, under the careful guidance of our teachers. Lessons are individualized to meet each child’s abilities. One child might be mastering how to tie his shoes while another is writing a story. After lunch, the kindergartners work in groups of approximately fifteen children with two Montessori teachers. The curriculum offers the children a rich variety that includes language arts, math, geography, science, art, music and spanish. Special field trips are planned for the kindergartners throughout the year, including an annual visit to the Kennedy Center. Occasionally, assignments are given to the children to do at home with the assistance of a parent, such as measuring items in the home or creating a project that illustrates one hundred. Our primary goal is to instill a love of learning as well as provide a strong academic foundation. We strive to nurture flexible thinkers and creative problem solvers. Parents of our alumni have assured us that their children have excelled in both the local private and public schools, thanks to the rich curriculum and philosophy of MCHL.
Children are innately drawn to music. Music’s melodic and rhythmic patterns awaken and stimulate neural pathways in the brain that help develop memory, math skills, and powers of abstract and creative thinking. It touches all spheres of development – including language, self-expression, concentration, social interaction, listening, teamwork, and self-esteem. Music is an important component in the development of the whole child. In the preschool years, the children at MCHL attend Music class once a week, while in the kindergarten year the children attend Music class twice a week. In the Music classes, children are provided a foundation in hearing steady beats, rhythm patterns, tonal patterns, movement, stories, and poetry. They are given the opportunity to develop a love for all instruments, including their own voice. The children sing songs as well as practice major and minor tonal patterns. They listen to musical stories and move to these stories, telling the story with their bodies. They experiment with different instruments, percussion and brass. They listen to other band and orchestra instruments which helps them to learn and differentiate between all types of instruments. They learn to sing in ensembles and rounds using original and traditional materials. These early musical experiences help create a strong foundation in language development, memory, math skills, and further musical development.
Children begin expressing themselves visually from the moment they can hold a crayon. Through drawing and coloring, they share their thoughts and feelings in the same way we use words. They begin their academic understanding of letters and numbers more as shapes and patterns as a way to communicate. As children’s fine motor skills develop, the ability to express their thoughts expands. Scribbles become more controlled, leading to broader developed representational ideas.
MCHL Toddler and Preschool classes include art as part of their daily morning schedule. In addition to their morning curriculum, Kindergarten and Lower Elementary students attend weekly art classes for a more in depth art experience. Projects promote self-expression through process driven art lessons teaching concepts using line, shape, form, color, texture, value and space, in addition to a variety of cultural arts and famous artists. By using a variety of media, tools and techniques the students are provided with many avenues to feel confident in their unique expression. Traditional art supplies are used as well as repurposed materials to trigger imagination and innovation. Small groups of children are taught to enable more one on one instruction, and to allow for collaboration, critiquing and discussion of how art is incorporated in their world.
EXTENDED DAY PROGRAM
The children enrolled in the Early Morning Care (7:30 – 8:30) begin their day in Room 1 Where they have the option of eating a light breakfast (typically cereal and milk) or engaging with other children exploring the vast number of activities – puzzles, books, children’s play kitchen, dress up, etc. in the classroom.
The Extended Day Program at MCHL is staffed with Montessori trained teachers. Children have the choice of working with the Montessori materials or playing with a large selection of activities that are made available to the children during the early morning and afternoon (3:00-6:00) sessions.
The children enrolled in the Early Morning Care/Toddler (7:30-8:30) and add start the morning in our Indoor Gym. They have the opportunity to ride our tricycles, listen to music and have a story read to them.
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers
Studies have shown that teaching a second language to children at an early age greatly improves their chances of achieving fluency and a native-like accent. Our Spanish teachers are native Spanish speakers and have extensive Montessori experience.
In the Early Education Programs, the children at MCHL attend Spanish class once a week. Spanish is learned through games, puzzles, songs, stories, puppets, and books. The curriculum includes numbers (1 to 20), colors, farm animals, holiday celebrations and family, parts of the body, clothing, food (especially fruits and veggies), shapes, seasons, and favorite places.
Kindergarten and Lower Elementary
In the Kindergarten and Lower Elementary Programs, the children attend Spanish class twice a week. By this time, the children’s vocabulary has advanced enough that grammar and phonetics are introduced to them. The children create their own books, learn to play board games in Spanish, and make projects to take home.
Bilingual Program/Room 4
In addition to our small group Spanish classes, MCHL offers parents the option to enroll their children in a Spanish/English bilingual education program. The children are introduced to the Spanish language by conversation, songs, and frequent vocabulary repetition on a daily basis. The children are always encouraged to respond to the teachers in Spanish. The children do daily calendar activities in Spanish and instructions are given in Spanish with as little translation as possible. Singing songs is one of the best ways for children to have fun while learning a language and is a regular part of the school day. Lessons such as language, math, sensorial, and geography are given in English. The lessons are presented in English to ensure the children understand the lessons while maximizing their ability to be successful in their work. This combination of English/Spanish has been well received and the children leave MCHL with a firm foundation of a second language.
MCHL offers a Mandarin class once a week. Each class is one hour long and is only offered to students enrolled in our Early Education programs. Xiao (Lisa) Li is the instructor and she taught young children for six years at the Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School prior to joining the MCHL staff in 2017. She is also on the staff at the American Weekend Chinese School in Herndon. Lessons, songs, and stories are given initially in English and then repeated in Mandarin. The children are exposed to both languages in an informal, conversational way that is natural for language development.
The weekly Computer Class ensures that all kindergarten and lower elementary students are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills for using a Chromebook. The curriculum gives the children opportunities to gain experience and confidence as they learn to navigate with a mouse. Students are introduced to the basic parts of the computer and learn technology-related vocabulary. They practice the proper use of the keyboard and the mouse. Furthermore, our kindergartners and lower elementary can connect technology to classroom learning and extend their knowledge of the Montessori curriculum. Educational software reinforces and enriches the student’s understanding of concepts in language, math, science and cultural studies. Finally, by using word processing programs, the children can enhance their budding creative writing skills by writing a simple sentence and creating an image to go with it.