About North Pittsburgh Children's House
A Note from the Pettits
When we decided to open North Pittsburgh Children’s House, we made a commitment to honor and authentically represent Dr. Montessori’s philosophy, educational intent, and priorities:
Keep the child at ease. We found a cozy Cape Cod style home on a quiet street in Hampton Township, PA, and transformed it into a true Children’s House in honor of Dr. Montessori’s first schools in Italy. Here the child feels safe, at ease and inspired in comfortable rooms full of fascinating and beautiful Montessori equipment.
Draw the child to the materials. Dr. Montessori coined the term “Prepared Environment” for her scientifically designed Montessori setting that appeals to the child while meeting his needs. At NPCH, we display the materials on shelves at the appropriate level for even our tiniest child. The attractive color and size of the teaching materials compel each child to explore. We ensure a constant influx of the most satisfying and exciting Montessori equipment to support the various, broader lessons we teach.
Follow the child. Dr. Montessori tells us to “follow the child.” We do not lecture the child, but rather show her how to utilize the school’s materials. Then we keenly observe her to ensure that she moves to the next level when she’s ready. We do not push the child. Dr. Montessori’s genius was the creation of this dynamic between materials, environment, teacher and each child’s potential, that makes acquiring knowledge a positive and enlightening experience.
Nurture the whole child. Dr. Montessori’s materials foster independent learning since they are self-correcting. They actually teach the child through purposeful repetition. We do not interrupt when a child makes a mistake but rather observe how he identifies his own error and corrects it. From his earnest endeavor to master his “work,” his behavior almost always matures. It is through these learning experiences that he develops the foundation of self-discipline, confidence, cooperation and responsibility. We believe, like Dr. Montessori, that every child inherently seeks to better himself. He naturally embraces the differences of others with respect and without the need to compete. We celebrate these differences and nurture the whole child to maximize his full potential.
Even More Good Stuff about NPCH...
A typical day at NPCH begins with the children organizing their bags, outer garments and lunches, before slipping into their slippers to begin the “Group” session. “Group” serves the crucial function of marking the beginning of each session. It is a time for each child to assemble as part of the bigger class to sit quietly and listen. It represents the transition from each child’s busy life outside of the school, to becoming a member of a collective Montessori Community.
As Spring approaches, NPCH hosts a large number of Painted Lady chrysalises in a special chamber in the school. The children enthusiastically observe the subtle changes in these budding butterflies each day. A great anticipation builds for the unforgettable day when the Kindergarten children release the butterflies into the world, just as they will be released into the world as First Graders.
Following Group, the children begin a 2-hour "Work" period. During this time, they receive individual and group lessons and are free to choose appropriate Montessori Work. At the conclusion of the Work period, the children collectively clean up the classroom and then gather again for Group dismissal.
There are many treasured traditions at NPCH that will become rich, joyful memories for your child. For example, snack takes on a whole new meaning at NPCH. In order to enjoy a snack, the child completes a six-step “handwashing procedure.” It’s worth every minute of preparation and the children look forward to it. It’s a nice break for the children – twice a day -- to socialize with a couple of other friends at a time in a special snack area. These wholesome snacks are provided by the school and are also donated by generous parents.
Each Thanksgiving, the students celebrate by having The Feast at NPCH. Several days leading up to the holiday, the children study our early ancestors and make crafts and hats to represent the Pilgrims and the Indigenous People. The school becomes full of energy on the day of The Feast as the children enjoy eating together as our ancestors did.