Welcome to Children's House

18 months - Kindergarten

“Students in Children's House learn to approach new challenges with confidence. They are empowered to become creative, well-informed, passionate and joyful learners and citizens of the world.”

Your child's story begins in Founder's Hall, the part of our school that is home to the Stepping Stones and Primary classrooms which together make up our Children's House.


Our Children’s House program is dedicated to educating our youngest learners, and the motto here is “Follow the Child.” What does that mean? In well-ordered, developmentally appropriate classrooms, under the guidance of expertly trained, experienced and caring teachers, children’s own love of exploration allows them to take the lead in their learning.

Current research confirms that the first years of life are crucial in a child's brain development. This is when children have the greatest capacity and appetite for learning – especially in language development and socialization. At Whitby, our entire program seeks to support young children (and their families) as they begin the journey of becoming lifelong learners.

Children’s House is designed specifically to foster social and cognitive development and to lay the foundation for learning in multiple academic areas. Different learning sections of the room thoughtfully encourage children to explore practical life activities, sensorial experiences, math, language, culture and science.

Students in Children's House learn to approach new challenges with confidence. They are empowered as readers, writers, critical thinkers and mathematicians to become creative, well-informed, passionate and joyful learners and citizens of the world. Respected as individuals, our students think for themselves and are ready to begin their journey of learning and discovery.

Children's House Highlights

  • Each child is guided in his or her own learning within the structure of our Montessori/International Baccalaureate program, which is supported by best practices in preschool education.
  • The unique flexibility of this curriculum allows us to continually challenge each child at his or her own pace.
  • Individualized attention is achieved by our very low student/teacher ratio of 6:1 in Stepping Stones and 8:1 in Primary.
  • We highly value our close working relationships with our families. This partnership is fostered through ongoing, personal communication as well as multiple conferences each year.
  • The multi-age classroom stimulates enthusiasm for learning and inspires independent thinking.
  • All of our teachers have undergraduate degrees with extensive experience in the classroom and at least one of the classroom teachers has completed Montessori and IB Training.
  • We provide a large outdoor, as well as an indoor space, specifically designed to meet the young child’s need for gross motor development.
  • Our program includes regularly scheduled enrichment activities which may include Spanish, Mandarin, music, art, yoga or dance, each taught by teachers that are specifically trained in these disciplines.

Stepping Stones (18 months to 3 years)

ib-montessori-preschool.jpgThe heart of the Whitby tradition for more than 60 years has been to cultivate each child’s natural desire to learn. Capitalizing on the crucial first years of life, Whitby's Stepping Stones program nurtures and guides young children as they begin the journey of becoming lifelong learners.

The Stepping Stones program is truly a gift to your child. Our program lays the foundation for a lifetime of successful learning, while offering a rich educational environment that is exceptional in preschool education. We encourage you to visit us so you may see firsthand how our program can inspire the innate abilities of your child.

Learning in Multi-Aged Classrooms

Each classroom includes children ages 18 months to 3 years. As they share experiences, Stepping Stones children are inspired by classmates who are older and encourage those who are younger. Their interactions foster positive social skills as they spur each others' imagination in dramatic play, share new abilities and learn from each other's efforts.

The Prepared Environment

Young children feel at home in the inviting and aesthetically pleasing Stepping Stones classroom. The environment fosters exploration, order, movement and freedom of choice. The size of furniture, bathrooms and shelving is proportioned to the learners, enabling self-care and the development of independence and confidence.

Stepping Stones
Afternoon Program

Imagine your two year old getting excited to help set the dinner table with you. We can help make that happen.

Explore the program
Completing a Work Cycle

Children begin to develop work habits at this age and learn to complete a "work cycle": a student will independently choose an activity, complete it and return materials to their proper place. Long periods of uninterrupted work time allows students to focus and engage in meaningful interactions. The feelings of joy that result from completing tasks with minimal help promote a child's healthy growth of self-esteem and competency.

The Teacher's Supporting Role

Teachers in the Stepping Stones classroom facilitate, guide and model. They remain present and nurturing, allowing the child to explore and benefit from the classroom environment. Our low student-to-teacher ratio allows the teachers to design a curriculum tailored to each child's level of development and provide individualized guidance.

A Blend of Montessori Method and IB

Whitby is the birthplace of the American Montessori Society, and Stepping Stones continues to embrace the Montessori method (accredited with non-traditional Montessori age groupings). The power of the Montessori teaching approach has been proven by modern research to enhance skills, interest, persistence, concentration, self-discipline and creativity in learning. We begin to apply principles of the International Baccalaureate by developing the enduring qualities of the IB Learner Profile.


Browse the Stepping Stones Curriculum



Primary (3 to 5 years)

Here in Primary, our heritage as America's longest continuously running Montessori school is evident the moment you walk in to any of the Primary classrooms. From the sandpaper letters to the colorful bead cabinet, the spaces are designed to facilitate exploration, delight the senses and invite learning. And what makes a Montessori classroom even better? The International Baccalaureate's units of inquiry which extend and enhance the students' exploration of the environment and develop their sense of international-mindedness.

Just like in Stepping Stones, our Primary teachers follow the children as they become actively engaged in the learning process, gaining a deeper sense of pride and ownership for their accomplishments because their work is always meaningful. You'll watch in amazement as your children develop the confidence and independence that will empower them as learners and fuel a curiosity that will last a lifetime.

Everyday Activities
  • Learn through inquiry, ask questions, think critically and develop problem-solving skills
  • Work individually, with a partner, or in groups
  • Develop a sense of international-mindedness, exploring cultural differences and others' perceptions and perspectives
  • Engage in learning activities in the areas of practical life, sensory development, math, language, art, science and social studies
  • Develop social skills through collaborative play
  • Practice grace and courtesy
Learning Environments
  • A balance of structure and flexibility that allows for the natural development of each child's physical, emotional and cognitive skills.
  • A beautiful, orderly environment to entice children to explore and to reinforce their innate sense of curiosity
  • Outdoor space adjoined to each classroom, allowing for large motor play time and additional natural space for exploration, in addition to a large common playground space

Afternoon Program

Do art, music, Chinese and cooking lessons sound like a fun way for your five year old to spend their afternoons?

Explore the program
Learning in Multi-Age Environments

Children ages three to six years learn together in one classroom. The age span provides the following advantages:

  • Older children model behavior and work for younger children, thus providing a calm and peaceful environment that reflects the IB Learner Profile from the very beginning of each school year.
  • Since verbal, reasoning and social skills develop at an individual pace, teachers can create flexible multi-aged learning groups tailored to challenge each child based on their readiness
  • Mentoring younger students helps older students develop mastery, empathy and caring
Social Emotional Learning

One of the hallmarks of Whitby's education is a fundamental respect for others. This is shown by students and faculty alike with the tone in the classroom, always purposeful and self-disciplined. When children are absorbed in their work, disruptions are rare. The teachers support students with problem solving, listening, modeling appropriate behavior and responding. At Whitby, children learn to:

  • Respect the work of others
  • Quietly indicate their need for attention from a teacher
  • Appreciate the value of others' contributions in the classrooms
  • Become poised and self-aware
Moving Up to Lower School

The third year of the Primary program is the culmination of a curriculum that meets the growth and developmental needs of the child. During the third year, a child exhibits an emerging ability to think abstractly, to articulate thoughts and feelings, to challenge and confirm an understanding of ideas and concepts, and a desire to reach out and cultivate a more complex and satisfying relationship with the world. It is a time of newly awakening social consciousness, of deepening friendships, of learning how to communicate effectively and of resolving differences amicably. It is also the stage of belonging and accepting responsibility for the welfare of the community and a time of giving and sharing.

Students leave Primary with a great deal of confidence, having had ample leadership opportunities, public speaking projects and genuine ownership over their learning for three very formative years.


Browse the Primary Curriculum


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