The Montessori Approach and Our Curriculum

 

At FDNM we understand that children learn best when they are having fun, are confident in their environment and with their peers. What makes us different is that we combine the Montessori Approach to children’s learning with the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework.

We promote the development of the all round child and introduce them to a broad, exciting programme of learning through some of the best recognized forms of teaching.

The Montessori Approach to learning

The first Montessori school was set up by Maria Montessori in 1907. She was Italy’s first female doctor. Montessori has now become the world’s largest education movement. Fundamental to the approach is the belief that a child’s early years – from birth to six – are the period when they have the greatest capacity to learn.

How does it differ from traditional education?

What makes the approach different, and what makes it work so well, is that it is based on a deep understanding of the way children learn – through choosing, trying and doing themselves. It allows children to discover things individually using all five senses and through understanding, rather than being told. From understanding comes confidence and a joy in learning. We believe that children shouldn't be pressurised at a young age and learning at their own pace is much more effective for their future education. Montessori classrooms are often noted for special pieces of equipment, many of which were created by Maria Montessori. The learning materials are all carefully designed to help children understand where they may have gone wrong and to enable them to work out ways of correcting themselves without being “told” how to do so. There is a strong physical dimension to many Montessori activities, encouraging dexterity, balance and appreciation of shapes, colours and sizes. Children are given freedom to select activities appropriate for their learning from open shelves.

A study showed that Montessori children have a high level of cognitive attainment at age 5 - above the national average. They also demonstrate excellent levels of positive social and behavioural development, and have a strong sense of self-esteem.

There are 5 areas of the Montessori Curriculum:

  1. Practical life: This area prepares the child indirectly for all other areas of the curriculum with order, concentration, coordination and independence. Exercises include pouring, sorting, food preparation, care of self, and care of the environment.
  2. Sensorial: Through exploration of the various materials of changeable dimension, colour, shape, texture, smell, and taste, all the faculties of intelligence are developed. The sensorial area also includes geometry as the subject is introduced to the child through their senses.
  3. The Language Area: The early years are a sensitive period for language achievement. The language curriculum includes oral language activities, pre-reading work, writing and reading comprehension. The development of listening skills, comprehension and vocabulary.
  4. Mathematics: This area is a powerful learning tool for developing a strong foundation which focuses on the fundamental skills to calculate. The program creates a concrete basis of math skills that are invaluable for future learning. Activities cover recognition of math patterns, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, short and long, fraction work and skip counting.
  5. Cultural Learning: The children gain a broad exposure to many different areas of science. For example, they develop an initial understanding of the difference between living and non-living things. The children learn fun facts about spiders, insects and other animals. They also learn about the earth (continents, countries, and oceans), and the solar system.

What is the Early Years Foundation Stage?

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is how the Government and early years professionals describe the time in your child’s life between birth and age 5. This is a very important stage as it helps your child get ready for school as well as preparing them for their future learning and successes. From when your child is born up until the age of 5, their early years experiences should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure; and support their development, care and learning needs.

 

How your child will be learning;

The EYFS Framework explains how and what your child will be learning to support their healthy development. Your child will be learning skills, acquiring new knowledge and demonstrating their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development. Children should mostly develop the 3 prime areas first. These are:

  1. Communication and language;
  2. Physical development; and
  3. Personal, social and emotional development.

These prime areas are those most essential for your child’s healthy development and future learning.

As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas.

These are:

  1. Literacy;
  2. Mathematics;
  3. Understanding the world; and
  4. Expressive arts and design.

These 7 areas are used to plan your child’s learning and activities. The professionals teaching and supporting your child will make sure that the activities are suited to your child’s unique needs. This is a little bit like a curriculum in primary and secondary schools, but it's suitable for very young children, and it's designed to be really flexible so that staff can follow your child's unique needs and interests.

Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside.

 

The Montessori Learning Approached combined with the Early Years Foundation stage is the First Day Nursery Advantage.