Claygate Montessori School




MONTESSORI - WHY IS IT DIFFERENT? Dr Maria Montessori's main objective was to help children reach their maximum learning potential and to develop into well-balanced individuals able to cope with the emotional, social and practical pressures of modern-day living. At Claygate Montessori School, special materials are provided which are designed to broaden the child's experiences and to stimulate interest in learning and discovery. The teachers at Claygate Montessori are trained to be gentle, sympathetic and full of encouragement - more in the role of a friendly helper who gives individual guidance rather than as a teacher who has to be obeyed. The teacher's role is to encourage positive attitudes, to help create strong individuals and to provide the stimulus and inspiration for the child to learn and progress. The essence of the Montessori education is that every child is treated MONTESSORI - WHY IS IT DIFFERENT? with respect, given freedom within the limits of a carefully structured environment, and allowed to develop naturally at his or her own pace. It should also be stressed that the Montessori child also pursues the same basic activities as covered in any classroom but taught in a way that avoids pressure while encouraging the maximum response. The child can choose from a wide range of self-educating activities to assist this process and to work at each activity for as long as their individual attention span will allow. The teacher is on hand at all times to encourage, to answer questions, and to promote a harmonious environment in which to learn.


One of the most popular sessions in our syllabus in Claygate is the daily Circle Time, when the children share experiences, learn concepts such as days and months, talk about the weather, express their MONTESSORI - HOW DOES IT WORK IN CLAYGATE? feelings and share their news. Circle Time is intended to build confidence in communication and provides a good groundwork for learning social skills. In Work Time, the children receive individual guidance to develop their skill in Practical everyday tasks (brushing, polishing, pouring, folding, buttoning, tying bows etc.) and to develop sensorial perceptions (taste, smell, touch, looking, listening). English Language and Mathematical exercises are taught using specially designed Montessori equipment to help the children to become familiar with numbers, letters and words.

Art and Craft activities are also undertaken including painting, experiments with colour, cutting shapes, gluing and mounted artwork, collages and sculpture using clay or papier-mache. The class works on a MONTESSORI - HOW DOES IT WORK IN CLAYGATE? different craft project each term. A specialist Movement Tutor attends the School weekly to give group tuition. The children are introduced to self-expression through music and by musical games, acting, mime and dance. Aspects of vocal and instrumental music are also covered and include, singing, using and learning the names and sounds of simple musical instruments. The Gymnastic class introduces and encourages the development of co-ordination and balance through simple exercises and movement games. In drama, hand puppets are used and games of imagination are played. The children are also introduced to French through participation in games, songs and rhymes and, for older children, introduction to computers.

Other subjects covered include Geography, using special Montessori maps and jig-saws, Botany, where the class grow plants from seed, Biology, involving animal recognition and classification, elements of history involving concepts such as today, yesterday and tomorrow. Cultural subjects are taught through the media of puzzles, craft projects and educational excursions. In the School's Book Corner there is a large library of children's books. Stories are frequently read to the children, and when ready, children may read aloud to the teacher or the class. Finally - we also attempt a project each term - a recent favourite has been to follow the activities of a whale which the class adopted in the Pacific Ocean.


The tradition was founded by Dr Maria Montessori (1870-1952) who was an Italian medical doctor who thought the children she encountered were in need of better education. She worked with a number of scientists and psychologists to develop a distinctive approach to child development involving common sense, multi-sensorial, structured and practical method of achieving education.

Dr. Montessori recognised that the nursery years are crucial in developing each child's full potential and that this is best achieved in a specially prepared, child sized and child centred environment. A key component of the Montessori methods such as "prepared environment", a working space designed in line with what children themselves prefer: everything is the right size for the children, including the tables, chairs, shelves, tools and implements they use. Everything is orderly and tidy since everything has a place in the classroom and is always put back correctly by the last person using it. This practice gives children a sense of security.

MONTESSORI - WHO AND WHAT IS IT? The classroom at Claygate Montessori School is one where children can feel at home and where all the participants are actively and purposefully involved. Above all, it is calm and peaceful, and this is perhaps its most striking feature and the way in which a Montessori classroom differs from the classroom of many other nursery groups.

The child is prepared for academic learning by promoting sensory development and by promoting the necessary practical skills needed to become independent. The children use unique Montessori learning aids in a whole host of activities. These include exercises related to the child's everyday life and are designed to develop a feeling of responsibility and independence, concentration and awareness of the environment. The learning aids help to develop an appreciation of the senses and to become more finely attuned to what they see, hear, touch, smell and taste. Materials for intellectual development are gradually MONTESSORI - WHO AND WHAT IS IT? introduced such as sandpaper letters to help the child phonetically. These materials support the children's learning and provide them with a challenge. They also help the children to develop skill and competence by proceeding to increasingly complex handwriting exercises that improve pencil control, and encourage problem solving through the more demanding written English work and reading. Related activities include the use of flash cards, recognition of sounds, drawing and colouring, joining dots and writing freehand. As each child is ready, we move on to the recognition of numbers and quantities as an introduction to arithmetical operations of varying degrees of difficulty.

In essence, this type of nursery education aims to generate security, trust and independence in the child and to prepare him or her to fit into any situation and to move onto primary and secondary education with confidence.