Children’s House of Hershey’s purpose is to provide a stimulating and dynamic learning environment for the child to explore and absorb. Based upon Montessori principles the learning activities will serve the needs of each child in the development of their physical coordination, social competence, emotional growth, cognitive preparation and independence. Ours is a nurturing community of educators and families working together and dedicated to provide the highest quality early learning experience for every child.
Children’s House of Hershey believes that…
- Children learn best in an environment where there is mutual respect and freedom to explore, with materials that stimulate the child’s natural curiosity, memorization skills, language development, self-help skills and thinking and reasoning skills.
- Children learn concepts and skills at their own pace and this pace is to be respected.
- Multi-age grouping, with a three-year span in each class, provides natural social development where children are encouraged to help one another, peer-teach, and develop leadership skills in a family-like setting.
- Multi-sensory, hands on materials maximizes learning by supporting individual learning styles.
- Opportunities to make choices and freedom within limits, fosters independence, self-confidence and self-discipline.
- Children will find joy in learning and become self-motivated in the process of learning when their need to actively engage in the world around them is encouraged.
Montessori education is based on the work of Italian physician, Maria Montessori. Her research in the first half of the twentieth century gave birth to an educational system that has grown worldwide, and continues to grow today, over 100 years since it’s inception. Utilizing her scientific training, Dr. Montessori developed an educational method based on the natural development of children and their intrinsic desire to explore, discover and learn from the world around them. Montessori saw education not as an end in itself, but as an aide to an individual’s life. At the root of the method is that carried, unseen within each child, is the person, whom that child will become. In order for each child to best work toward this hidden potential, he must be given the freedom to explore in a rich learning environment, at home and at school. Montessori felt the child would show us that which “calls to his inner most being,” for his own development. Pivotal to the Montessori method is the importance of observing the child closely, discovering what interests him and then providing additional learning opportunities for him to meet his specific needs at this particular time in his development.
Through her early observations of young children, Dr. Montessori created materials from what she saw the children wanting to do each day. This was the beginning of another important facet of the method, known as “the prepared environment.” Each Montessori classroom is a thoroughly prepared learning environment, aesthetically appealing, with an ordered arrangement of developmentally appropriate, sequential activities. Montessori discovered when children played/worked in such an environment they learned easily and quickly. Later in her writings she coined the phrase, “the absorbent mind” when she spoke about the ability of the young child to quickly absorb new skills and concepts like that of a sponge.
Montessori’s first learning environment held only four areas of the curriculum; first and foremost was practical life (daily living exercises), sensorial (to help refine the five senses), language(vocabulary enrichment), and mathematics (both of the latter to assist with understanding symbols). Years later she continued developing the curriculum. Once again, based upon her continuing observations of the children’s interests: to learn more about the world around them – geography; the passage of time – history; further expression of self and creativity– art; and the need to understand living things – natural sciences. All of these areas of the curriculum are still present in Montessori classrooms today. Other Montessorians later developed curriculum for music and gross motor rhythmic activities.
The Montessori method is frequently misunderstood, considered by many to be only an early academic program, inappropriate for the young child. However, because the child chooses what they want to do in the classroom and sets the pace for the acquisition of information, Montessori teachers are trained to observe closely and follow the child’s interest. It is through observing the child’s interests that the Montessori directress comes to know the child and their unique needs for their self-development. The directress then develops an individual lesson plan for each child based upon the child’s interests. In this way no one area of the curriculum is more important than another. Learning to prepare a simple snack and clean up afterward is as important as learning to count. Learning to be kind and courteous is as important as learning the sounds of the alphabet. A Montessori educational experience encompasses not only the academic, but also the physical, emotional, social and moral development of each child.
Since the Montessori method of education takes a different approach to learning then most schools today, it can best be understood and appreciated by observing a class. Often even professional educators misunderstand Montessori principles. It is for this reason all Montessori schools encourage observing a class in-session.
Children’s House of Hershey in Middletown, PA welcomes the enrollment of all children and does not discriminate on the basis of national or ethnic origin, race or color.