The quality of educational provision was praised highly in our latest ISI inspection report and the quality of the Montessori approach was assessed in our Montessori Schools Association Accreditation report (2013).
The Early Years curriculum at The Elms is underpinned by the Early Years Foundation Stage 2012 (Nursery and Reception) and the National Strategies for Primary Schools (Year 1). The Montessori materials and method provide a concrete, hands on approach to learning which serves to create a stimulating environment in which to learn.
The classroom is divided into different areas:
These activities promote independence, co-ordination and fine/gross motor skills. They also develop the child’s concentration and dexterity. The children will be presented with activities that relate to real life experiences such as dressing frames to help them learn how to tie their own shoe laces and pouring exercises to enable them to become independent.
These materials are designed to heighten the child’s awareness of colour, shape, texture and size. They provide the basis to a wide variety of curriculum areas such as geometry, algebra, handwriting, reading, art and music.
Communication is encouraged through daily activities such as conversations with other children, circle time, stories, music and the outdoor classroom. Writing comes before reading and the children use a wide range of equipment to help them develop a neat handwriting style. When a child is ready to start reading they are taught the phonetic sounds and the shapes of letters. The child then progresses to word building and blending (CVC, CCVC/CVCC, and digraphs). Once they are ready to read we use a variety of reading schemes choosing those that work best for each individual child. Challenges is this area are very quickly picked up and extra support is provided where necessary.
The Montessori Maths equipment provides children with concrete forms of mathematical concepts and when the child is ready they move on to more abstract exercises. In the Early Years department, children are introduced to numerals and quantities 1-9 and then they move on to use the decimal system quickly adding four figure numbers by the time they are in Year 1. They will learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide using specially designed apparatus.
The children are encouraged to take an active interest in the world around them. Our projects allow the children to bring in items to share with the rest of the group. They study plant and animal life; they understand how the scientists believe the world was created; they study the religions of the world and the continents on our globe; The Montessori materials teach the children Geography, History, Science, Art and Music.
Art and Craft Activities:
As well as having an afternoon session once a week devoted to Art, in which we might look in depth at the work of some of the worlds most famous artists, the children are also free to use a wide range of materials from the art trolley in our classroom on a daily basis.
Music and Drama:
The children have a Music and Drama session once a week and also put on several plays and informal concerts throughout the school year (nativity, harvest festival, informal concerts, Mothers’ day concert, summer plays).
There is a computer in the classroom for research and activities; the children also use various programmable equipment such as the Beebot, a camera and CD players. There is an interactive whiteboard for project work and we have the use of an ICT room for group work.
The children use the sports hall for PE and Yoga. We also do daily exercises to help the children inhibit any baby reflexes that might be preventing them from being able to concentrate, focus and balance (www.inpp.org.uk). The children enjoy 60 acres of open space at break times and during Woodland Challenge lessons. Some of these lessons also take place on the farm where they learn to look after the pigs, cows and chickens.
PSHE & P4C:
During PSHE children will learn about how to deal with emotions, friendships, general hygiene and ways in which to stay healthy. Whilst in P4C they will discuss various philosophical questions such as ‘would you rather dance with a bear or have tea with a hippo?’ There are not right or wrong answers and everyone’s opinion matters.