Chico Montessori Children’s House Celebrates Its 40th Year of Educating the Young Child

art-0413-mont1Located near Parkview Elementary School and within walking distance of Bidwell Park, Chico Montessori Children’s House has been an important educational choice for parents wanting an exceptional pre-school experience for their young children. Having educated approximately 3,000 children since 1973, the school is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Parent Jodi Rives states, “Chico Montessori has done a stellar job. We are very fortunate to have this school in our community.”

Both morning and afternoon classes are provided to children ages 3 to 6 by a dedicated staff of highly qualified teachers with backgrounds in child development and Montessori training. Parents can choose an all-day session with lunch, and extended hours are also offered. During the summer months, two-week sessions are available with varying themes such as art, gardening, insects, cooking and the solar system.

The Montessori Method of education was developed in the early 1900s by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician who became a leading advocate of early childhood education. Her interest in child development began with helping children with special needs. She later began working with poor children and founded the Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House) in 1907 in a low-income district in Rome, which became well-recognized throughout the world.

art-0413-mont2The director of Chico’s Montessori Children’s House is Charlotte Rainwater, who began teaching at the school in 1980, and took over as director and owner in 1981. With a Master of Arts in education, her strong interest in the Montessori methodology led her to continue her education by completing a certificate from the Association Montessori Internationale in Dublin, Ireland.

The philosophy and fundamentals developed by Dr. Montessori continue to be practiced today in Montessori schools. The method promotes children’s sense of responsibility, boosts their confidence, and develops their independence using specially-designed learning materials, supporting them to develop basic skills in a non-competitive environment. Students of different ages are placed in the same class so that older students mentor younger ones. “There is not a lot of competition,” notes Rainwater. “Older children become role models for younger ones. It’s a natural thing, like a family.”

Rainwater describes the early preschool years as the stage when children possess what is called the Absorbent Mind, in which children soak up their environment and imitate. At the school, there is an area where the children can practice activities that replicate daily living. Children learn to prepare their own snacks using pictorial cards, and they choose their work from activities such as cutting apples, watering plants, making sachets, cracking nuts, washing windows and squeezing oranges, using special tools and utensils aimed at developing children’s fine motor skills.

While it is the teacher who prepares the environment, programs and activities, it is the student who takes the initiative to perform the activities presented. “My daughter likes the self-direction. It’s mediated when it needs to be,” says Rives, mother of 4-year-old Scarlett. “The children have been empowered to be good decision makers.”

art-0413-mont4Amy Sturgeon, mother of Malia, age 3, says that her daughter is very passionate about her ideas. “She always comes home and tells me about the new work she has been doing. Sturgeon also recounts that her daughter loves the outdoor environment at the school, digging in the sandbox, making mud pies and playing on the stepping stones that lead up to the school.

To educate new parents about their program, Chico Montessori is hosting an Open House on April 27 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. The school will also have a booth at the Children’s Fair on April 6 at Chico’s downtown plaza.

For additional information on Chico Montessori Children’s House you can contact Director Charlotte Rainwater at (530) 342-5518, or at montessorikids3-6@att.net. You can make an appointment to visit the school, which is located at 814 Glenn St., or visit their website at http://www.chicomontessori.com.

Both Rives and Sturgeon expressed enthusiasm for what Chico Montessori has provided their children. “My daughter has been fully nurtured,” states Rives. “She has found the experience to be very fulfilling!” 

Darla Greb Mazariegos
About Darla Mazariegos

Writer Darla Greb Mazariegos is a mother of three and part of the North State Parent staff.

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