Gardens MontessoriOur Curriculum
The classroom is divided into carefully curated and beautifully presented curriculum areas.
The practical life area has activities that help refine the critical fine-motor skills that children will need before they can start to write. Other activities, such as making their own snack, buttoning up shirts, and polishing their shoes, help improve their independence in everyday tasks. The area has many familiar activities from the home to help them feel confident and comfortable. They especially enjoy baking bread to share with their friends.
The sensorial area helps the children explore the world through their senses. They investigate different textures, both in and out of the classroom: soft moss, rough stone, a smooth leaf. They match different smells using, for example, perfumes and spices. The area also gives them a foundation for maths as they use materials to study volume and size, quantity and length. Through these they learn to categorize, sort and classify.
Children acquire maths once they have understood the relationship between quantity (the concrete) and numeral (the abstract). All early maths material is designed to achieve the knowledge that, for example, two is less than three, and four is more than three. Once that knowledge of quantity has been achieved, further material allows the child to associate the abstract numeral, say “3”, with its concrete equivalent: three counters, three stones. Many of the activities are designed to be done collaboratively; for example, practising addition by setting up a shop and a bank with the activity centred on role-play.
The communication, language and literacy area is there to encourage communication, expand the child’s vocabulary and allow their innate love of books to flourish. The early language and literacy games, which children can play from their very first day in nursery, are primarily designed to train children’s ears to distinguish sounds: to know the difference between c, a, t and, subsequently, to be able to blend these newly found sounds into words. Once they have that skill, children learn to read and write quickly using the full range of the more advanced Montessori literacy equipment.
Understanding the world is designed to educate the children about the wider world. Our continents section has an extensive range of beautifully collected artefacts to give the children an understanding of different cultures and countries. A favourite activity is learning about, and then ‘creating’, a volcanic eruption. Children dress up in different clothes to suit the seasons, feed and play with the pet gerbils, feed the tropical fish, explore time through creating a timeline of their life, and much more. The weekly projects are based on a termly theme, which could be The Continents, Festivals of the World, Evolution, Animal Kingdom, Science and more.
The personal, social and emotional development section of the curriculum is not an area of the classroom but rather is taught through love, example and repetition. We help children to develop self-esteem, self-awareness and confidence. We teach them how to interact constructively with others, especially if they are wanting to express a grievance, to negotiate, and to care for their friends, the classroom and the environment.
Creativity underpins, and reinforces, all the other curriculum areas. It is vitally important, not only in assisting children with their maths and literacy but also in helping them to think, tackle problems and interact. Giving children extensive opportunity for creative expression helps to build their social skills (example: role-play), their confidence (for example drama, music), speaking and listening skills, motor skills (craft, painting, music etc) and their ability to solve problems.
The outside area is an extension of the classroom, and has a range of activities including a play-house, sandpit and mud-kitchen, bikes, scooters, blocks, planks, musical instruments. Our Victoria Road school, which contains an edible garden, turns into a forest school once a week, with the children and teachers spending the whole session outside, engaging with, and learning about, nature. Outside activities build confidence, promote creativity and imagination, and reduce stress and fatigue, amongst other benefits. The edible garden is maintained by The Arcadia Charitable Trust
Going out of the school on a trip can be a thrilling experience for small children. We love school trips and have our favourite places that we go to every year: bug-hunting and pond-dipping in Holland Park, going to the Chelsea Theatre at Christmas, visiting museums, spending the morning in Kew Gardens in the summer, as well as other ad-hoc trips.
We bring different experiences into the classroom, such as an incubator with chicken eggs that the children can watch hatch, a blind lady who tells the children about life without sight and the amazing job her guide dog does, and the animal man who brings a collection of animals, from a meerkat to an owl, for the children to see, in some cases touch, and, in all cases, learn about. We have French classes once a week as an optional extra.
We teach the children to care for the global community, holding fundraisers to support our adopted children in Mozambique, Laos, Kenya and Honduras, and an Armenian orphanage, and we have links to a Montessori nursery in Nepal where we offer support and professional development to the teachers. Through helping others, children learn compassion and get a sense of a wider world.