"Free the child 's potential and you will transform him into the world."
- Maria Montessori
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Founded in the Summer of 2018, Brooklyn Children's House Montessori School is an in-home early childhood education program for children 2- 5 years old. In the hustle and bustle of New York City, co-directors and educators Lisa Bruno and Gyrchel Moore wanted to create a home-like environment for children’s earliest school experience.
After working for over 10 years collectively in large schools, they often felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of bodies and the scheduling of activities and programs around a large "master schedule" rather than following the interests of the children. Developing a small classroom community that is truly able to follow the child's interests is best for the youngest learners. With this knowledge in mind and inspired by Maria Montessori's first school in Italy called "Casa dei bambini," which translates to "The Children's House", we have strived to replicate Montessori's first intention and have created our own House for the Children of Brooklyn.
In Montessori education, the environment is considered a teacher and therefore is both inviting and purposeful. Our environment may seem different than a typical early childhood environment in that we use natural colors and seek to leave the walls free of distractions less for some classical and modern artwork reflecting changing of the seasons, children's interests and shared culture.
We avoid plastic and instead choose to fill the area with real-life items made of natural materials. Everything is sized to the child so they can learn to achieve maximum independence. Your child will enjoy the furniture and tables that are just their size, and contribute to the environment by watering the plants that fill the windows, sweeping the floors with their own child-sized broom and even scrubbing the tables!
Additionally, the environment is outfitted with traditional Montessori materials that aid in your child's discovery of art, math, language, practical life skills and the five senses. In our outdoor environment, which we visit daily, the children are encouraged to run, climb, dig, explore and play. We have activities for gardening, nature exploration and gross motor development.
Another important part of the Montessori curriculum is Grace and Courtesy. Through these activities teachers role-play for children what to do in certain situations ranging from practical routines "What to do when you have to sneeze?" (catch your sneeze in your elbow and get a tissue) to social and emotional development like "What to do when someone calls you a name you don't like?" (Tell them, 'My name is Lisa, you can call me Lisa.') We also incorporate body autonomy and consent, by role-playing "How to ask for a hug." and how to decline and how to accept a hug.
As Montessori educators, we practice positive discipline. In this approach, we establish consistent boundaries and expectations from the beginning. Children thrive in structured and predictable environments. By having common and consistent language amongst the teachers and a clear and predictable schedule, children are able to understand what they need to do to be a part of the community. When a child struggles with an expectation, we get down on their level and speak with them calmly and patiently. If conflicts arise we aid the children in calming techniques such as taking deep breaths or taking a break in a cozy area. Once the children are calm, we return to the conflict to discuss a strategy for resolution. We follow up and continue to help the children navigate conflict through our Grace and Courtesy lessons.