Curriculum

Message from our Head Teacher, Grace

We believe in the uniqueness and unparalleled abilities of every child. We are not preparing children for the exams and tests which will confront them in later life, but preparing them for life itself. 

The Montessori teaching method combined with the opportunities of a Forest school setting allow your child to be in a constant state of learning and working.
 
Your child will be truly nurtured through this highly important developmental stage of their life. We are committed to making this stage as happy and as fulfilling as your children deserve it to be.

Curriculum areas

Heuristic play

Babies and children create heuristic play for themselves every day. When we say “they are into everything”, this is what we mean. Our aim is to support the child’s learning by making it more directed and purposeful.

We use mostly natural materials as the properties of these are far more interesting to young children. Natural wooden materials, with all the bumps, splits, rough and smooth edges and grains are far more interesting than the usual plastic toys that we give children because they are safe and easy to clean. Natural materials are also non-toxic and far better for our children's planet. Things that are breakable provide far greater learning opportunities than things that will not bend, mould or break at all. For children who are interested in the tiny details of things, natural is almost always best.

 

What's more, our Forest School allows a myriad of sensory experiences from examining different natural textures to lying back and looking at the sun light shine through the tree canopy overhead.

Literacy

For young children, the materials are all geared towards breaking down the skills they will need for writing later on. Montessori believed that if children are allowed to follow their natural path, most will write before they will read. A wide range of self-chosen, pressure-free activities supports children to build up these skills. A concrete understanding of letter sounds and blends allows them to start word-building a while before they can complete the more abstract task of decoding text to read.

Numeracy

The key to a successful start in maths is for it all to feel like a fun, natural part of everyday life. The Montessori maths materials for young children focus on helping children to classify properties of objects, e.g. pairing, ordering, sorting etc, in a fun and non-threatening way.

Montessori’s ‘mathematical mind’ theory, says that children are born with a predisposition to maths. They like things like routines, order and consistency, all mathematical concepts on some level. The need for concrete experiences and objects is very important. These concrete experiences create strong impressions in the brain, which give a foundation for more complex and abstract ideas later on. Once children reach school age, they use tiny golden beads to carry out long division and multiplication tables in fun, group activities. All of the Montessori materials follow a very neat sequence to get them to this stage, gradually building up knowledge and understanding through play.

Understanding the world

As bold as it sounds. This area strives to educate little minds about the world, and beyond. At preschool age, they delve straight into the solar system and come to learn that our tiny planet is part of something much bigger. This starts a pattern of learning that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. From tidying up so that the next person can use the same activity to celebrating differences in people around the world, it all adds up to becoming a kind, caring citizen.

The main sub-categories of this curriculum area are Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Geography and History. Examples of activities include gardening in our Forest School, country and culture themed treasure baskets, using egg timers to learn about time and caring for our nursery pets.

Activities of everyday living

Children show signs of wanting to be independent from a very early age. A key principal in any Montessori school or home is to channel this desire and use it to teach children the skills they need to achieve this independence. This curriculum area is very empowering for children.

The activities can be placed into four categories:

  • Etiquette (pushing a chair in after eating, taking turns)

  • Develop and refine manipulative skills (pouring, threading, chopping)

  • Care of self (practising doing up buttons, brushing hair)

  • Care of the environment (watering plants, cleaning a mirror)

Creativity

The pure creative genius of young children shines through in the things they choose to create with objects that could otherwise be seen as mathematical or restrictive. Patterns created with buttons and beads, coloured blocks arranged in imaginative shapes, toy animals speaking unique tongues and small cars used as telephones. Children will find the creativity in whatever they are given, if the environment allows it. We offer children the time, space and natural resources to be deeply creative.

Sensorial

You know when you’re doing a puzzle and you can see the shape of the gap you need to fill and the shape of all the remaining pieces, but its not enough to help you to find the correct piece? Instead you need to hold the pieces, touch the edges, categorise the ‘in bits’ and the ‘out bits’, the corners, edges and middles. You also need to use trial and error to ‘test’ a few pieces in the space. You get it wrong a lot more than you get it right. This is a good analogy for a baby or toddler’s whole life.

 

Everything needs to be touched, explored, tested and categorised somehow. Children need to be “into everything”, and gradually as they grow to understand things, the intense exploration fades. They start to be able to use sight (visual discrimination) rather than touch to tell if something is big or small, they start to be able to imagine an egg shape, rather than needing to hold an egg to think about it.

This curriculum area, along with heuristic play helps children to move toward this goal. Children learn using all of their senses. The more we can support them to develop and refine these senses at an early age, the more we support them to learn happily and easily as they grow older.

Education that looks at the bigger picture