Sunset Hills Montessori School

Reston Pre-School and Private Elementary 20th Anniversary. Sunset Hills Montessori School is nestled in the woods of Reston, on the edges of Lake Audubon and Lake Thoreau. We provide a peaceful school setting for children ages 18 months to 3rd grade.

A Typical Day in a Primary Montessori
The child arrives, hangs up his/her coat and backpack, is greeted by the Montessori teacher with a handshake and some words of welcome and is invited to  choose some work to begin the day or to come to the “circle”. Some teachers start the day with circle time, some start with individual work until all children have arrived. Circle time may include introduction to new materials, group games, singing, grace and courtesy lessons, storytelling, etc.

Photo Credits:   PaperKite Photography, LLC

The child then spends most of the next one to two hours working individually, with a friend, or in a small group. The times with guidance from an adult, from all the activities in which he/she has had a “lesson”. A child may ask for a lesson and children may give lessons to one another. If a child asks for a lesson on an activity that is too advanced, the teacher will guide the child to work which is the foundation for the work he/she wants to do. The important thing is to set up the child for success. The length of time spent on individual work depends a great deal on the children.

At the beginning of the school year there may be a short work period followed by a circle time or outdoor time and then another work period. In January and February we find that the children’s work is so important to them that they do not want to put their work away.

The children assist in preparations for lunch by arranging and setting the tables in formation that allows everyone to sit as a whole group (family style) or in groups of two to four. Children also assist in the clean-up after lunch. When clean-up is finished all has been put away they usually have outdoor time after which the preschool children nap or are dismissed to go home.

The afternoon for the older children consists of continuing indiviual work that was started in the morning, and group activities - particularly in nature studies, advanced geography work, and art appreciation. Depending on the makeup of the group, competitive games may also be introduced at this time. The smaller group size in the afternoon allows for more individual attention with the advanced work and gives more space for some of the larger projects done by the older children, such as murals of the solar system.

Dismissal is accompanied by a handshake and parting words.

Photo Credits:   PaperKite Photography, LLC

The Primary classroom is designed in a manner that allows children to work independently and at their own developmental pace. The curriculum consists of the following areas:

  • Practical Life:  Activities such as spooning, pouring, sweeping and buttoning, to promote small motor control, care of the environment and care of the self.
  • Sensorial:  Activities dealing with shape, size, color, weight, sound, etc, which promote further development of the senses.
  • Language:  There are two language areas: comprehension, which includes activities such as matching, classifying, and sequenceing; and phonics and reading activities ranging from simple sound games to whatever reading level the child attains.
  • Math:  Activities range from one-to-one correspondence and object-to-numeral matches to whatever level the child attains. The emphasis is on using manipulatives to give the child a concrete foundation for the abstract math work he/she will do in later years.
  • Geography:  Activities include puzzle maps, materials that have an international aspect such as matching shoes from other coutries or spooning rice with a Chinese soup spoon, books about the cultures, and international snacks. These form an introducction to physical and cultural geography.
  • Art:  Activities to show the care and use of art materials, to encourage creativity, and just to have fun! Sometimes we put out only red, yellow, blue, blac, and white paint so the children mix their own colors for their paintings. Jr/Sr Kindergarteners also begin studies of artists such as Monet, Matisse, and Cassatt.
  • Science:  Activities include nature related lessons such as living and non-living parts of a tree, weather, and the solar system.

Specialty Classes

  • Spanish:  Once a week the Primary children spend 40 minutes participating in Spanish lessons. During these lessons the children receive a basic introduction to the Spanish Language as well as culture.
  • Music:  Once a week the Primary children enjoy a half-hour of musical instruction through the Music Together Program. In this class they are introduced to many songs, rhythm, beat and cultures through music.