Meet ToTH Montessori:
CHAW’s November Sponsor of the Month

What should people know or would you like them to know about ToTH Montessori?

TOTH Montessori was founded in 2012 as Toddlers on the Hill by a small group of Capitol Hill families who were looking for care for their young toddlers but were not able to find options that met their needs. The program began operating out of Douglas Memorial Church on H Street NE, and by 2017, under the guidance and direction of trained Montessorians, TOTH blossomed into a full-fledged Montessori school with both toddler and primary (3-6) classrooms. In 2019, all of TOTH’s programs came under one roof at the Arthur Capper Recreation Center building at 5th and K streets SE. Over the years we have served hundreds of families from all across Capitol Hill and beyond. TOTH has been the recipient of multiple seasonal grants from the Capitol Hill Community Foundation and we have been voted Best Preschool for the past eight years in the Washington City Paper’s Reader Poll.

Whom do you serve?

TOTH Montessori serves children ages 15 months through kindergarten. We accept DC childcare subsidy vouchers and Child Care Aware fee assistance for military families. Our toddler classrooms are for children who are 15 months to about 3 years old. The Primary classroom serves children who are 3 to 6 years old, and is designed as a three-year experience where children stay in the same learning community for three years. This is wonderful alternative to the traditional PK3, PK4 and kindergarten experience where each grade is separated with different children and teachers each year. Transitions can be difficult for children at this age, but at TOTH, the classroom communities are like families. First year children have time to get comfortable and build strong relationships with friends and caregivers. In their second-year, children start to branch out, engaging with more of the curriculum and experiencing exciting bursts of growth. Finally, in the kindergarten year children truly blossom and act as leaders in the classroom while also deepening their knowledge and mastery in different subject areas, such as language. 

What are the benefits of a Montessori education?

Children who experience a Montessori education develop essential qualities such as independence, confidence, and empathy. At the same time, they have the freedom to make choices, meet their individual needs, and solve their own problems. Children who spend time in learning environments that nurture these qualities and skills develop a love of learning that will stay with them for years to come. Dr. Maria Montessori, the Italian physician and scientist who developed the educational method, described a Montessori education as being “an aid to life,” and so the biggest benefit of a Montessori education is that these children will leave school prepared to meet the challenges of life the 21st century and flourish.

What is special about your school?

What makes TOTH Montessori special is our community—the children, families, teachers, staff members, and supporters that have been with us these past 11 years. When a family chooses TOTH Montessori for their child, they are really choosing a school for the whole family. This is a place where you may develop life-long friendships, or learn something that completely shifts your perspective on parenting, or where you may send multiple children over the course of a decade! We prioritize making lots of space and opportunities for our community to come together and share quality time, whether it is on the playground after school, at a parent information night, or at our annual Halloween party.  

Why do you support and what is your connection to CHAW?

As another Capitol Hill institution that serves children and families, CHAW’s mission, programs, and activities are essential for our neighborhood because we know how important it is for a community to have resources dedicated to the arts and arts education. CHAW is located just a few blocks away from TOTH, and many of our staff members and families have children who have participated in CHAW’s programming, from music and dance classes to summer camps and gallery shows. CHAW’s vibrant presence in the neighborhood helps to make Capitol Hill one of the best neighborhoods for families in DC!

What do the arts and the Montessori philosophy have in common?

Another core principle of the Montessori philosophy is “freedom within limits”–basically, the idea that in the classroom, once child has had a lesson and understands how a material is used and cared for, you are free to explore, practice, create, and learn without a lot of external management or interruption. Art is no different! Once you understand the way different instruments, media or equipment work, and you have some of the techniques down, you have the freedom to be creative, experiment, and make decisions about your art, music, or movement. In addition, artists are often changemakers, thinking critically and pushing boundaries with their art. We hope that our young students will have the same boldness and confidence to be the changemakers of the future!