Curriculum

Both the IC and the Children’s Houses provide calm, nurturing environments filled with materials that lead to purposeful activities. Respect for others and for the environment is fostered and modelled by the adults and by the older children.

Montessori and the EYFS

Our environments follow Montessori principles, whilst identifying the links between these and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). We therefore recognise that:

  • Every child is a unique child who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured;
  • Children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships;
  • Children learn and develop well in enabling environments where their experiences respond to their individual needs and where there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents/carers; and
  • Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates.

We follow and record the children’s development and progress across each of the prime and specific areas identified within the EYFS.

Montessori Infant Community

Our Infant Community provides an ideal environment for a gentle introduction into the world outside the home. This is a carefully -prepared environment which meets the needs of children from 12 to 30-36 months, when they are ready to move into the Children’s House. During this time, children are developing gross and fine motor co-ordination and language skills at a phenomenal rate, and the prepared environment aids this development by providing a calm, stimulating and safe space within which to do so.

The materials in the Infant Community reflect this, providing a wide range of activities to promote the development of independence, language, and gross and fine motor skills. These include ‘Practical Life’ exercises such as dressing frames, different ‘opening and shutting’ activities, and a variety of sensory activities. Opportunities for physical development such as climbing, riding, running, balancing, throwing and carrying are offered alongside activities that enable children to carry out tasks to care for themselves. Stories, songs, poems, and activities focused on enrichment of vocabulary are an important part of every session. During this time, children are gaining an understanding of themselves, and of the world around them. Thus, providing them with the vocabulary to describe their familiar objects and activities is paramount at this stage of their development. Furthermore, the Infant Community introduces children to the vocabulary of social interaction, with ‘grace and courtesy’ activities to enable them to use appropriate language when interacting with others. This social aspect is extended in the Children’s House.

Our curriculum is divided into five main areas. These are Gross Motor Skills, Language, Fine Motor Skills, Practical Life and Expressive Arts.

 

  • Gross Motor Skills: The ample hall responds to the great need that children have at this age to gain control and co-ordination of their gross motor movements by providing a space where children can crawl, walk, run or climb safely. Gross Motor Skills resources such as the stairs, slide, walker-wagon and tricycle allow the children opportunity to practise and master these skills.

In addition, there is access to an outdoor area where the children can also take part in more physical activities as well as gardening.

  • The Language area includes extending vocabulary through the use of appropriate language to name all the objects in the environment. Poems and songs, (seasonal as well as all-time favourites) are an essential part of each session. In addition, the shelves house objects and picture cards which are used to broaden the children’s vocabulary beyond their immediate environment, helping them to develop their understanding of the world around them. There is also a varied selection of books which can be looked at independently or read together with an adult.
  • The Fine Motor Skills area offers activities ranging from simple lift-out puzzles through to more complex ones such as threading beads onto laces. All of these activities provide opportunities for the children to refine their small motor movements and to develop their hand-eye co -ordination.
  • The Practical Life area contains activities such as mopping, caring for plants, and dressing frames with buttons and zips through which the children develop the skills needed for independent self-care and care of their environment. When they move on to the Children’s House, where Practical Life forms the foundation for their work, they joyfully engage with pouring, polishing, a whole range of dressing frames, and most exciting of all, real washing and scrubbing activities.

The Expressive Arts resources include a painting easel, a craft table and a selection of musical instruments which enable the children to explore and develop their creativity, as well as providing further opportunities for movement and for the development of gross and fine motor skills.

Clapham and Clapham Park Montessori, our Children’s Houses

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.

It is true that we cannot make a genius. We can only give to each child the chance to fulfil his potential possibilities.

Dr Maria Montessori