Inside Annapolis | Schools
Montessori International Children’s House
When Maria Montessori opened the first Casa dei Bambini or Children’s House in Rome on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1907, she could not have foreseen that by this eve of the centennial, her schools would be spread across six continents in public, private, parochial and charter schools! When seventy eager, anxious parents met in the summer of 1985 to form Montessori International Children’s House (MICH), they could not have foreseen the success and national reputation the school has achieved. Today MICH has grown from a three-room schoolhouse into a thriving, nationally respected and vibrant Montessori school serving 160 children and their families.
Montessori International Children’s House is located in Annapolis just east of the Severn River Bridge. The building, once a luxurious private home, houses seven classrooms for children from eighteen months through age twelve. The classrooms are spacious, airy and flooded with natural light. The campus includes woods and gardens, plus two playgrounds and a sports field. There is also plenty of space for several conference rooms, offices, a media center filled with over 6,000 books, two early-morning-care/afternoon-care rooms, and a Spanish/Music/Indoor Physical Education room.
Newcomers to Montessori and MICH often ask, “What are the distinguishing characteristics of a Montessori school?” A peek into a typical Montessori classroom reveals children grouped by a three-year age span (3 – 6, 6 – 9, 9 – 12), open shelves with educational materials arranged in order of difficulty and by curriculum area, children moving freely to and from the shelves choosing work and returning work to shelves when completed, and a peaceful, harmonious atmosphere. At first glance, it may be difficult to find the teacher. This is because she is not the center of attention, but is directing or guiding children as needed, giving lessons to individuals or small groups, and observing the children rather than intervening and unnecessarily interrupting those who are focused on their tasks. She recognizes each child’s unique personality and rate of development; at the same time she shows each child how to be an important member of a harmonious community.
The Toddler Community is designed to meet the needs of children 18 months to age three. Meeting five days/week from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM, it is an intimate community of nine children with a trained teacher and an assistant. The environment provides a structure designed to meet the specific physical, psychological and cognitive needs of toddlers. It is not an academic program, but one that stresses language enrichment, sensori-motor exploration and “practical life” activities to foster toddlers’ growing sense of independence. Cooperation and collaboration are emphasized in all adult-toddler interactions.
The Primary program allows children ages three to six to explore, develop their senses, and learn for themselves during the phase when they possess what Dr. Montessori coined an “absorbent mind.” During this phase, there is a great need and potential for careful, exacting work and a natural desire to learn. There are thirty children with a trained teacher and an assistant. The children stay with the same teacher for three or four years. Both the half-day option for children under four and a half as well as the full-day option for children over four and a half feature uninterrupted blocks of time during which each child is engaged in captivating learning activities that foster self-discipline and concentration. The half-day primary program meets five days/week from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM. The full-day primary program meets five days/week from 8:30 AM to 3:15 PM.
Montessori education does not end with the preschool experience. It continues into the elementary years and is built on the Montessori primary experience. The lower elementary program is for six- to nine-year olds; the upper elementary program, for nine- to twelve-year-olds. Both meet five days/week from 8:30 AM to 3:15 PM. Children between six and twelve are forever asking how and why. The child’s own questions form the basis for exploration and research, which is relevant to each child’s personal quest. Students engage in open-ended research and in-depth study using primary and secondary sources, charts, and timelines rather than textbooks. Montessori education capitalizes on the elementary child’s insatiable desire to understand the universe and her place in it. Studies include geography, biology, history, language, mathematics, science, music, Spanish, physical education and art. The subject areas are integrated into interdisciplinary fields. One of the goals of the elementary program is to foster the child’s feeling of connectedness to all humanity, and encourage her natural desire to make contributions to the world.
All MICH programs are licensed by the Maryland State Department of Education and recognized by the Association Montessori Internationale. If you are interested in becoming a part of Montessori’s second century, phone 410.757.7789 or see our website at www.montessoriinternationalchildrenshouse.org.