In a Montessori Children’s House there is a constant flow of activity. Children are allowed to work at their own pace, and to make choices about what to take from the shelves. They also decide for how long they want to work with a specific material. There is no distinction between ‘play’ and ‘work’. This is a period of life when the child is busy with the task of ‘self-construction’, which guides her/his choices.
The materials are always displayed in the same order on the shelves; the children tidy up after themselves and also help each other to tidy up. They can express their feelings verbally rather than physically, they know how to wait and they respect other children and other children’s work and space.
The Montessori Children’s House is divided into five main areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics and Culture – which comprises Geography, Botany, Zoology, Music, Science and Art, and an introduction to the concept of history through recording events and through time lines.
Practical Life activities provide the children with opportunities for learning many basic skills and, most importantly, they provide the foundation for all the other areas, by helping to develop concentration, co-ordination, control of movement, problem-solving skills, self-confidence and development of the ability to control the will.
Sensorial materials isolate the qualities in the world and enable the children to explore those qualities. Thus, the materials aid the refinement of the senses and help the development of concepts such as shape, dimensions, weight, colour, sound, smell and taste. Many of the materials in this area help the development of the mathematical mind
Language development and the acquisition of literacy skills start from the enrichment of vocabulary and the development of awareness of the sounds within a word, which are essential preparations for developing the skills necessary for both writing and reading. According to Dr Montessori, preparation is crucial when undertaking new challenges, and thus, many of the Montessori materials across all areas of the environment have the indirect aim of preparing the hand for writing. In addition, the materials available within the language area itself provide opportunities to develop writing and reading skills, and for the acquisition of grammatical concepts.
The Mathematics materials enable the child to explore basic arithmetical concepts. The materials also aid the understanding of the processes involved in the basic arithmetical operations, namely addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Children also become familiar with the properties of two and three-dimensional shapes and gain an understanding of fractions.
The Culture area explores the world through attractive materials and resources. This is an extension of the Language and Sensorial areas, as children continue to name and to classify the objects around them. The well-designed materials which include the ‘Montessori bells’, the puzzle maps, simple science experiments and classifications within the natural world, offer an introduction to Music, Botany, Zoology, Geography, History, Art and Science.
Physical activity is an integral part of what the children do in the Montessori environment. There is a constant flow of activity where the children, engaged in a variety of activities, make use of gross and fine motor skills. In addition, purposeful physical activity is supported in the outdoor area through equipment for climbing and balancing as well as using balls, bean-bags etc. In addition, children are guided to explore and to care for their outdoor environment.
We also offer extra, weekly classes after the morning sessions at both Clapham and Clapham Park Montessori. Music & Movement lessons are held at both schools and in addition, there is Dance and Sport at Clapham Montessori and Drama, French and Yoga at Clapham Park Montessori. These classes are optional and they have proved to be very popular over the years.