Caterpillars Montessori Pre-School Working with OFSTED
We adhere to the Early Years Foundation Stage and regularly complete audits and reflective practice tasks to ensure that we maintain a good quality and safe provision for each child.
The Montessori curriculum operates comprehensively and effectively across the statutory areas of learning and development highlighted in the Early Years Foundation Stage framework. These areas work towards the foundation stage profile which is completed at the end of the Reception year (the first year at ‘big’ school).
The Areas are:
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
which relates to the development of confidence and independence enabling the child to make relationships and manage their feelings and behaviour.
which refers to improving control and co-ordination of the body in terms of both large and small motor skills as well as being aware of the right to a healthy lifestyle, understanding the importance of taking care of ourselves.
Communication and Language
which covers communication with peers and adults and developing skills in speaking, listening and understanding.
which enables us to gain skills to read and write.
Understanding the World
which involves investigation of the environment and relates to people, communities, places and cultures as well as technology.
which relates to using ideas about categorising and comparing; quantity; number; measurement; shape and space.
Expressive Arts and Design
which gives opportunities to be imaginative and covers discovery of ways to communicate using colour, shape, sound, texture, movement and language as well as media and materials.
The child is endowed with unknown powers, which can guide us to a radiant future.–Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
The Montessori curriculum complements the above areas, as well as moving above and beyond them. We remain true to the Montessori philosophy of following the child rather than dictating to him or her, whilst at the same time, we recognise and fulfil the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Whether working individually, or in small or larger groups; in a one-to-one situation with a teacher or as a whole class, the children encounter endless opportunities for learning every day at Caterpillars Montessori. Crucially, each child has the space to work at his or her own pace. We do not pressurise children to attain ‘goals’ but allow them to develop naturally according to their own interests.
The early years, from birth to approximately age six, are the time when the child has the greatest capacity to learn, and is in possession of an enormous appetite for knowledge. He or she has no mental barriers about any area of the curriculum, and it is now that the foundations are laid for all future learning. Concentration is the key to learning, and the only way the young child can concentrate is by fixing his or her attention on a task being performed with the hands. The Montessori curriculum consists of a wide range of equipment that the child can touch, feel, hold and manipulate in specific ways, in order to learn specific skills and absorb concepts.
Independence is fostered in the Montessori classroom as children acquire and develop skills for everyday life: sweeping, polishing, cutting and pouring, for example. Also covered are personal skills such as hand washing and buttoning. As they practise the skill in question, the child also strengthens motor skills and coordination, and importantly, begins to develop the power of concentration. Interpersonal skills – such as greeting one another nicely, table manners and remembering please and thank you – are also covered.
Through manipulating the equipment, the children are able to order and classify the many sensory impressions they have received since birth. This enables them to understand their surroundings more consciously, and gives them the opportunity to work with abstract ideas in a very concrete way. The child is able to develop classification and discriminatory skills whilst working with different dimensions, colours, sounds, tastes, smells and textures.
Sensorial education also prepares the child for future mathematical tasks. The concepts of increasing and decreasing volumes and dimensions, for example, are absorbed by the child without the need for explanations beyond his or her stage of development.
As in every area of the Montessori curriculum, the child builds knowledge on what he or she already knows, gradually proceeding from the concrete towards the abstract. Through handling the apparatus in order to discover rules and patterns, the child is able to internalise concepts that govern how numbers behave. We start from sensorial beginnings, teaching the quantities 1-10 before introducing the written symbol, decimal system and early operations. We constantly encourage a perceptive awareness of the relevance of number in our environment through songs, rhymes and creative activity.
We teach reading using synthetic phonics, in other words, by teaching the sounds made by each letter of the alphabet. This is done using the Montessori ‘sandpaper letters’ which enable the child to learn sound and letter formation in a multi-sensory way. We then move towards word-building (early writing) and reading phonetic words, through a series of carefully graded exercises. The child will progress towards reading and writing longer phonetic words and early ‘sight’ words and phonemes. We constantly reinforce what has been learnt, and prepare for reading and writing, through story books, games, music, art and role play.
This is the area of the curriculum that covers geography, history, botany, zoology, science, music, art and craft: in fact, a wealth of knowledge! Montessori emphasised the importance of presenting to the child a whole view of the planet, stressing the inter-relatedness of everything in the natural world. The cultural subjects are therefore the areas of knowledge that enrich the child’s understanding of all aspects of the world in which he or she lives.
The specially prepared environment of the Montessori classroom provides the child with the stimuli and the opportunity to explore any aspect of these areas of knowledge that appeal to him or her; but it is also our responsibility as Montessori teachers to facilitate the child’s absorption of knowledge through project work, group activity, discussion and ‘show and tell’.