We have a secure daily routine with room for flexibility. We provide a warm and friendly welcome for each child. Every session begins with registration and circle time, which provides opportunities to develop speaking and listening skills and foster self-confidence. This may be followed by a group activity e.g. music, movement, drama, French, a Montessori presentation or topic work.
Next, moving freely about the classrooms, art room and outdoor area, the children self-choose activities from the carefully prepared environment. The children work individually, in pairs or in small groups and with the teachers in a calm, supportive and non-competitive atmosphere. This ‘work cycle’ is a very important time when the children are taught skills and given time and freedom to engage and explore these skills without interruption, allowing highly-motivating learning experiences which promote concentration, confidence and self-discipline.
Refreshments (fresh fruit and organic milk or water) are available to the children during the session. The session concludes with a whole school circle time, including a story, poems or singing.
Our broad-based curriculum successfully combines the Montessori philosophy and the principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
The Montessori approach is holistic and aims to develop the whole child. The Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum features the following prime & specific areas of learning: however, it is difficult to separate the different areas of the curriculum, as they are all interdependent and inter-connected.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Respect for oneself and for others is fostered by our everyday language and actions. We are the role models and support for each child’s growing social skills and self-discipline. Consistent values and routines throughout the school give a clear and secure understanding of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. We teach the children personal skills, e.g. how to wash hands, and encourage care of each other and of the school e.g. sharing, taking turns, watering plants, tidying up. In group work, the children learn the pleasure of co-operation. Montessori practical life exercises help to develop concentration, self-confidence and independence.
Communication, Language and Literacy
Our everyday encouragement and help for the children to communicate their feelings, ideas and experiences to us and to each other, underpins our respect for the spoken word and listening to each other. In storytelling, news, poetry and role-play etc. we seek to extend vocabulary and language skills and the children’s awareness of the spoken and written word. Early work with practical life, sensorial equipment and Montessori insets helps to develop the fine muscle control needed in later writing skills. Children learn to recognise and write their name.
We teach letter sounds phonetically, progressing on to word building and eventually to reading when each child is ready. Providing a solid foundation to pre-literacy and pre-writing skills is vital to the children’s confidence and enthusiasm as they progress on to more advanced skills in reading and writing.
Madame Nathalie visits weekly to sing and count in French with all the children and to give our older children small group lessons in French.
We use both Montessori and other equipment to introduce number recognition, sorting, pairing, matching quantity to symbol etc. through concrete and enjoyable experiences which promote clear understanding of mathematical concepts. Practical life and sensorial apparatus, which has an in-built control of error, helps the child discover and observe shape, dimensions, weight, sound, texture, colours, sequencing etc. and develop a corresponding mathematical language.
We include the use of ‘real’ numbers in our everyday activities e.g. the calendar, counting children, number rhymes, etc. This concrete foundation in the understanding and enjoyment of numbers is vital to later, more abstract mathematical concepts as the child develops e.g. in the use of written numbers, tens and units and simple sums and is essential to the child’s confidence.
Understanding the World
We encourage respect for the environment and a sense of awe and wonder for the natural world. We use many Montessori and other activities, games and resources to give children a clear understanding of the world about them. Topic work includes the seasons, festivals, life cycles and planting activities. Weekly cookery lessons for the older children introduce simple technology and an understanding of the importance of healthy eating. We aim to foster the children’s natural curiosity and enthusiasm and provide a foundation of learning to support their later historical, scientific, geographical and technological learning.
We aim to help develop both fine and gross motor skills in everyday activities e.g. using tweezers, pouring, balancing and in particular activities including music and movement, drama, obstacle courses and games, indoors and outdoors. Young children need freedom of movement to learn and we aim to encourage their pleasure and confidence to develop and refine their ever increasing physical skills. Weekly gymnastic lessons provide a more formal foundation in physical skills.
Expressive Arts and Design
We provide opportunities for the children to explore and develop creative skills and techniques through a wide range of good quality tools and materials. Our intention is to give them the appropriate time and support needed to express their thoughts, ideas and feelings and thus to develop their creative and imaginative abilities.
Weekly sessions with our specialist Music teacher culminate in a concert for parents in the summer term. Whether it is art, craft, dance, drama, construction or music, we believe that creative activities are a vital part of the education of the ‘whole’ child.