Everything You Need to Know About the Montessori Children’s House

What does "Children's House" mean exactly? We’ll answer all your questions about Montessori education for children ages 3 to 6 years old

The Guidepost Team

If you’re curious about Montessori learning and its set-up for young children, you’re in the right place. You might be new to the Montessori Method or have a friend who has piqued your interest. Whatever the case, we’ll help explain how children grow and flourish in the Children’s House.

The Montessori Method is an approach to learning which was developed by Dr Maria Montessori. Our Guidepost Montessori schools follow this teaching method by encouraging children to develop self-motivation and independence. We focus on the growth of the whole child, rather than individual aspects only, such as academic development. Essentially, no stone is left unturned. Children are encouraged to explore all of their strengths — academic, social, emotional, and physical.

Guidepost Montessori schooling includes multi-age classrooms, which are broken down into the following age groups: 

In this article, we’ll address all things Children’s House and answer your questions about this early stage of childhood growth at Guidepost Montessori. 

What does "Children’s House" mean? 

"Children’s House" comes from the name of the first ever Montessori school for children ages 3 to 6 years old, which was founded in Rome in 1907. Maria Montessori named the school la casa dei bambini which translates as the children's house. This was a very deliberate choice by Maria Montessori: by calling her school a "children’s house," she suggested that the place in which children spend their days learning should be designed with their needs in mind — not the adults' — which is a legacy we carry on today. Every Guidepost Montessori campus caters to the social, emotional, physical, and academic needs of children.

How does the Children’s House differ from Kindergarten?

While the Children's House and Kindergarten both strive to meet the needs of young children, the methods they use to meet those needs — and the resulting outcomes — are very different. The main difference is that the period of time a child spends at Kindergarten lasts one year — the child starts at around 5 years old and leaves when they turn 6. The Children’s House, on the other hand, spans a three-year cycle, welcoming children from about 2.5 years old and nurturing them during this key period of development until they reach about 6 years old.

However, when you visit a Children's House for the first time, you will be struck by how different it feels to a Kindergarten classroom. Quiet, minimal, and uncluttered, each classroom is designed to appeal to the young child's sense of order, their desire to work and their appreciation for beauty. The lack of noise will seem conspicuous at first, but you will start to notice the low hum of industry as children move freely around the room — some engaging in conversation, some working alone; some sitting at desks, others on the floor. You may wonder where the teacher is, and why all the desks aren't facing the blackboard. Indeed, the Guidepost Montessori Children's House is run in a completely different way to conventional Kindergarten.

At Guidepost Montessori, children have the freedom to explore different learning materials, and can choose what to work on and where to work on it. They are observed by a teacher whose job is to guide and not lead: she allows the young child to learn independently, while tracking his progress and creating individual lesson plans in order to aid his development. The child is surrounded by other children of different ages, allowing him to learn from his elders while becoming a leader and role model for the younger ones as he grows. Studies suggest that these things combined are the reason why children who attend Montessori schools overtake Kindergarten students in terms of academic achievement, social and emotional development, and overall happiness (see here, here and here).

What will my child learn at the Children’s House?

Every child is a unique individual, and will learn different things at different rates. When a child excels in a particular area, such as mathematics, we challenge them to explore it even further. If a child is struggling with a certain topic, such as language, we give them extra lessons and support in order to help them achieve all the milestones we would expect their age group to conquer.

Generally speaking, by the end of Children’s House, your child will have learned:

- Number concepts and basic math computations such as addition and subtraction with numbers up to four digits.

- How to spend extended time focused or concentrating on a task.

- How to assess what tools or support they need to complete a learning activity and how to organize themselves or ask for help.

- To identify alphabet letters, letter sounds, rhyming words, sight words and read books appropriate to their level aloud. 

- To write using words, sentences and to begin to understand grammatical concepts.

- How to communicate to a group, share their ideas and engage in public speaking.

But think of these achievements as a baseline for success. By the end of their time at the Children's House, our students tend to excel beyond any adult's expectations, developing strong executive functioning and problem-solving STEM skills.

For more information about what your child will learn at the Children's House, please check out our Guidepost Montessori curriculum for children ages 3 to 6 years old. 

What does a typical day at the Children's House look like? 

Each morning at the Children’s House begins with a routine to help your child get ready for the day ahead of them. It includes games, story time, and sometimes even yoga. The specific activity really depends on how the children are feeling and what they need that particular morning. After the morning routine, the teacher helps transition children into the work period, while making a snack available. The work period is a three-hour block of uninterrupted time, where the children will not be disturbed or called to participate in a group activity. This is where the individual learning happens! After the work period, children will enjoy free play outside and then eat lunch. The afternoon includes nap time for younger students and then a transition into the afternoon work period. At this time, children go home unless they are enrolled in our extended day program. The children who are in the extended day program will enjoy an afternoon snack and additional activities such as music, art, group time, and games before going home in the early evening. 

Is there outdoor space?

There is an outdoor space at every Guidepost Montessori Children’s House, and it’s used every day for children to learn and play. Students learn how to garden and take care of the school’s plants. The outdoor area may include a sandbox, garden, tools, and activities for the children.

How will you keep my child safe?

At Guidepost Montessori, our first priority is to make your child feel safe and secure. We are uncompromisingly committed to exceptionally safe, nurturing learning environments for all of our children, parents, and staff. We have specific health and safety protocols our staff follow when children exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 and other common illnesses, such as stomach flu.

Our commitment to safety is vetted from the inside out. All our campuses comply with state licensing and regulatory bodies, and are held to industry-leading operational standards through national and international accrediting agencies. For example, if a child in one classroom has a contagious disease, such as the common cold, we notify the child's parents, but also notify the parents of all children in attendance at the school so that they can take extra precautions if they choose. Additionally, all our staff are trained in first aid and CPR.  

Government-mandated protocols differ from state to state, especially regarding the prevention of COVID-19 transmission. Please check with your local school to get more information about their specific protocols, such as whether they encourage children to wear masks.

Learn more about our Health and Safety policy.

What are your COVID-19 protocols?

You can find our most up to date Health and Safety information here. As COVID-19 specific protocols can vary according to state and things are always changing, we recommend contacting the school or schools you are interested in and asking for their most recent rules. You can find a list of all our schools here.

Will my child get to exercise throughout the day?

Absolutely – movement is a fundamental part of every day at Children’s House. Every morning starts with movement, games, or yoga to give the children an opportunity to stretch and move. Students also spend time in free play outside daily. Afternoons also include music, movement and games to help children stay active. Unlike traditional daycare or Kindergarten, the work children do in the Children's House involves a lot of physical movement, as they choose their work on the shelf, take it to their work area, use the materials, and then put everything back on the shelf when they're done. These cycles of activity prevent children from spending long periods of time sat at a desk or on the floor, which isn't good for young growing bodies.  

How do I enroll my child? Is there a waitlist?

We work with each family to help guide them through the enrollment process. We try our best to fit the enrollment date around your family's needs. If there is a space available at your local Children's House, you will be invited to fill out a registration form and pay the applicable fee. You will then be contacted by the Assistant Head of School, who will guide you through the rest of the process.

If there is no space in the school you are interested in, or you’d like to enroll your child in a school which is in its pre-open stage, you can join our waitlist. If you already have one child enrolled at our school and would like to enroll their sibling, you will gain higher waitlist priority when you pay the pre-registration fee.  

Are there any discounts available if I enroll more than one child? 

Yes, Guidepost Montessori offers a sibling discount. If you enroll more than one child, each younger sibling of the eldest enrolled child will receive 10% off the price on their rate sheet.

How many days per week do you offer?

Guidepost Montessori offers full days and half days Monday to Friday at the Children’s House. Part-time days begin at 7:00 AM and end at 12:30 PM. Full days start at 7:00 AM and end at 2:45 PM. Extended Days run until 6:00 PM. Schedules may vary according to each campus. Please contact your local school to find out exact timings.

What time do you open and close?

Our schedules vary by campus, but full and extended days generally begin at 7:00 AM and run until 6:00 PM on weekdays. Please contact your local school to find out exact timings.

How much does tuition cost?

Tuition costs vary depending on if you are full-time or part-time and by location. Please get in touch with your local school to learn more; a list of our locations can be found here. 

Do you offer financial aid?

Yes, we do. Financial aid is available up to 50% off the tuition rate. Applying for financial assistance is open to all families and can be done at any stage in the enrollment process. Contact your local school for more information. Find out more on our Admissions page.

What are your class sizes and staff-to-student ratios?

Class size and staff-to-student ratios vary by location. Please get in touch with your local school to learn more; a list of our locations can be found here.

Do you have accreditation?

All Guidepost Montessori schools have received accreditation by the Cognia Global Accreditation Commission. Cognia is a non-profit organization working in over 80 countries that provides quality assurance for schools, schools districts and education service providers. You can read more about our own accreditation process here. And you can learn more about Cognia in general on their website.

Are your staff Montessori trained?

Yes. Every Lead Guide at Guidepost Montessori is either a Montessori diploma holder or is in training to achieve one. Our teacher training institute, the Prepared Montessorian, offers a MACTE-certified diploma course free to all our staff — in addition to a range of professional development opportunities. We also offer support to our guides through mentoring and school consultation programs, which are led by our internal team of experienced and qualified Montessorians.

Are there any toilet training requirements for my child?

By the time children arrive at Children’s House, we expect students to have begun their toilet learning. However, if you have not yet started, please get in touch with your local school for advice. We help children in our Toddler program learn how to use the toilet, and our teachers would be more than happy to help you and your child on your journey to toilet independence.

What staff will I see at my child's school?

You will most likely see the Head of School, Assistant Head of School, and your child's Lead Guide or Assistant Guide on a daily basis. The Head of School is responsible for leading the entire campus, with support from the Assistant Head of School. They ensure the delivery of an exceptional Montessori program and help build a strong community among staff, parents and children. At Guidepost Montessori, Children's House teachers are called Lead Guides and Assistant Guides (this helps highlight the fact that we believe the child is at the center of the learning process, not the adult). Our Guides plan and implement the Guidepost Montessori curriculum, and support your child’s learning and development. 

We hope we’ve answered your questions and helped you better understand our Children’s House program and how it works! For even more information, please fill out the form below and someone will be in touch soon!

Meet the Author

The Guidepost Team

The Guidepost Team is a group of writers and educators dedicated to helping demystify all things Montessori.