Montessori at Kings Castle
Our baby and toddler rooms (Highcliffe and Christchurch) blend traditional and Montessori approaches to provide children with an introduction to Montessori within a more traditional framework. Our Christchurch toddler room offers children both Montessori and traditional toys and equipment and staff have a mix of traditional and Montessori-training.
Once children join the Lulworth rooms (usually when they are 21/2 – 3 years), they follow the full Montessori curriculum.
What is Montessori?
Dr Maria Montessori was the first woman physician in Italy. She dedicated her life to developing a philosophy encouraging the child to maximise his or her full learning potential at his or her own pace.
The Montessori method of education is based on a balance between freedom and structure specially designed for the young child.
The child is treated with respect and as an individual.
The classroom is designed to be child-orientated providing a calm, attractive and stimulating environment where the child feels encouraged to explore and learn.
The Montessori child will develop a love for work and order; concentration; independence; social skills and a concrete foundation of language and numeracy skills. It is our aim that the child feels nurtured, a member of the group and above all is happy.
The Montessori Curriculum
The Montessori curriculum has 5 main areas. At Kings Castle, there is a separate room or zone for each area of the curriculum.
Using the child’s natural impulses as a point of departure, Montessori developed several activities for the classroom to help the child satisfy this need for meaningful activity. For these exercises she used familiar objects – buttons, brushes, jugs, water and many other things, which the child recognises from his home life. For the young child there is something special about tasks, which an adult considers ordinary, – washing dishes, chopping vegetables and polishing shoes. They are exciting to the child because they allow him to copy adults – one of the strongest urges during his early childhood.
Although the Practical Life exercises may seem simple and common place, each task helps the child indirectly to:
- Develop small and large motor control; hand-eye co-ordination; independence; social awareness; concentration and an ability to think logically.
- Prepares the child for reading, writing, maths and the wider world.
A young child finds out about the world through all his senses. Since he quite naturally uses all his power of observation during his early years, Montessori felt that this was the ideal time to give the child equipment, which would help him to understand the many impressions he receives through them. The Sensorial materials help the child to become aware of detail by offering him at first, strongly contrasting sensations, such as red and blue and then variously graded sensations such as many different shades of blue. Each of the Sensorial materials looks at one defining quality such as colour, weight, shape, texture, size, sound, and so on. The equipment emphasises this one particular quality by eliminating or minimising other differences. The child learns to distinguish, to categorise and to relate new information to what he already knows. It is brought about by the intelligence working in a concentrated way on the impressions given by the senses.
Montessori always believed that the young child has a natural sensitivity for language. The child has a unique fascination for words, both printed and spoken. This fascination often enables him to begin reading and writing before the age at which it is traditionally taught.
The individual presentation of language materials allows the teacher to take advantage of each child’s greatest periods of interest. The child therefore learns to write not by writing but by performing a number of purposefully structured activities, which prepare him both indirectly, and directly for facility in handwriting.
Montessori demonstrated that if a child has access to mathematical equipment in his early years, he could easily and joyfully assimilate many facts and skills of arithmetic.
Montessori designed concrete materials to represent all types of quantities after she observed that the child who becomes interested in counting likes to touch or move the items as he counts them. Later, by combining this equipment, separating it, sharing it, counting it and comparing it, he can demonstrate to himself the basic operations of arithmetic. These activities give him the satisfaction of learning by discovery rather than by being told.
Science; Ecology; Geography; Zoology; Botany; Music (singing and rhymes) / Dancing / Drama; History; Art and Craft; Religion and Cookery are all incorporated into our nursery week. We also encourage the interests of each child and embrace local, national and global activities, events and traditions to give our children a fascinating introduction to the culture, nature and geography of the people and the world around us.