The Montessori Heritage
How the Montessori Method is applied at The Childrens Studio:
The Children’s Studio adheres to a Montessori teaching method throughout our three classrooms. We do this by focusing on the key Montessori principles:
Encourage independence and independent learning: You’ll find the principle of “help me to help myself – don’t do something for me that I can do for myself” in play throughout the school.
The prepared environment: For the children to be independent, the space needs to be organized to support this and equipment needs to be child-sized and within the child’s reach. For example, if the children have access to child-sized brooms, mops etc. they will be able to practice cleaning up after themselves more effectively.
Three-year age groupings in one class: We have a 2-3-year-old class and a 3-6-year-old classes. Sounds chaotic? Children enjoy learning from their peers – the older children show the younger children how to do things and the older children learn to treat the younger ones with respect. This also corresponds with the planes of development in 3-year age groupings of the Montessori principles
Three hour, uninterrupted work cycle: During work time there is free choice of tasks that are stimulating and developmentally appropriate. During this time the children go through cycles of differing levels of focus and concentration, including periods of intense concentration, which are optimal for learning.
Follow the child: The adults in the environment spend a lot of time observing the children in order to direct them effectively. A non-intervention, guiding approach is used. The directresses keep a record of their observations of each child, ensuring that they do a well-rounded set of activities over the term.
Work areas in the classroom:Stimulating, developmentally appropriate tasks are grouped into the flowing categories:
Practical Life: In this area of the classroom you’ll find work such as pouring, spooning, peeling, buttoning and beading. Not only do these tasks empower children to become independent and master skills that are part of everyday life, but they also improve their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and confidence.
Sensorial: This equipment hones a child’s senses, which better equips them to explore and understand their world. Some examples of what you would find in this area include the bells (to build auditory discrimination skills), the olfactory jars (to learn about their sense of smell), the pink tower (to develop visual discrimination, grading skills, and motor skills), and the sandpaper paper tablets (for the sense of touch).
Language: Maria Montessori designed a range of special equipment to prepare very young children to read and write. Children can work with materials such as the sandpaper letters (in preparation for writing), the moveable alphabet (to create short words) and the metal insets, where children trace shapes to practice their pencil grip, prepare for writing, and cross the midline. Increasing vocabulary and preparation for reading and writing
Mathematics: The Montessori maths system focuses on letting children explore concrete representations of numbers and functions. They will learn about elements such as number concept through the wooden spindles, how to write symbols through the sandpaper numbers, and the decimal system through the golden bead work.
Culture: Children of this age are beginning to become very interested in the world around them. Here they can explore activities surrounding geography, history, biology, botany, zoology, and science experiments. Favourite activities include the land and water forms, where children learn about different geographical features, and the flag work, where they create their own flags.
Art: Although not strictly part of the Montessori classroom areas, a designated station is available for the children to use at any time. Paints, crayons, khokis, paper and an easel can be found in this area
Do you have Grade R?
Grade R / Grade 0 is a formulation created by the Department of Basic Education to refer to the year which precedes Grade 1 in the formal, compulsory schooling sector. In this year five and six-year-old children are taught specific skills and concepts deemed necessary for Grade 1 learning. These skills are valued by some educators as indicators of readiness for formal learning.
The Montessori approach is based on an understanding of human development that supports the learning and growth of children in a different way. In common with other developmental approaches to early learning, Montessori sees a distinct difference between the first phase of childhood and second, which begins with the Grade 1 year. Montessori schools therefore align learning experiences to the developmental stages of the child, rather than to pre-defined skills demanded by a curriculum.
The Montessori programme is aimed at preparing the child for life, not only for their first year of formal schooling. The Montessori 0 – 6-year-old programme provides a developmental foundation for formal schooling, and thus “school readiness.” Children in Montessori environments are supported in building their skills progressively and holistically, in developmentally appropriate ways.