Our Montessori approach to early years

Nature is wonderful as it allows our children a certain set time in their development to learn each thing!

For children in their early years, from birth to the age of six, there is a quantum leap in learning. Children have an absorbent mind, they soak up information like a sponge and learn things effortlessly with their whole mind, body and soul. These years and their early experiences, form the adult they will become.

Our children are “sensorial explorers”.

From birth to about three years old our children use all six of their senses – touch, taste, feel, sight, hearing and balance – to understand and absorb the information about their environment. It is a time of sensory and experience learning.

From about one and a half to three years old, we hear our children building up a solid foundation for language from pointing, to babbling, then using single nouns, adjectives and then finally sentences and stories. It is a time of language explosion.

We watch our babies master the grasp and release skill that spawns an interest in small objects around them. We see them refine their movement in the manipulation of small objects. We watch them have greater coordination and grow with an increased awareness of spatial relationships, matching, sorting, sequencing and the important order of things.

From about three years to six years old, our children show us the interest and admiration they have for the adult world, they want to copy and mimic us, they want to care for their environment. This is a time when children are very open to adults around them and being the very best role models we can be with the information we have at this time, is crucial for the developing child.

We watch the child working with all six of their senses to learn and adapt to the environments around them. We see them use their hands to cut, write, draw and paint. This is a time for acute tactile development.

In their pre school years they reveal their interest and ability in wanting to read, count numbers and understand the universe and all that is around them in nature and in the sky.

The years when a child learns language is a profound and mysterious process of learning. The urge that a baby has to sit up, crawl and walk are also stages of development that are completely innate. Maria Montessori called this process of learning and behaviour norms as the child’s “sensisitive periods”

These “sensitive periods” that we see in our children include movement, small objects, wanting to be part of a social group, learning one or more language and so on, and during these “sensitive periods” or “windows of learning”, it is very easy to teach children certain concepts that later on might be difficult for an older child to grasp.

These “windows of learning”  happen in differing sequences from one child to the next and some overlap with one another and they will always occur from birth to about the age of six years. It is important that at the time we see these “windows of learning” immerge in the developing child, that we provide the right environment and tools for the child, as they only emerge in the early years and then disappear forever.

This desire to learn comes from deep within the child.

Montessori education at Mulberry Bush Montessori provides your child with an environment rich in activities for every area of learning. Montessori called her schools “casa dei bambini” or “the children’s home”. In their home from home here, your child finds rooms full of mystery, challenge and discovery!

Our children under three years of age have different means from adults for sustaining their attention and thereby developing their minds. They are not capable of reason, abstract thinking, or imagination so they cannot make conscious choices for their attention based on intelligence. What they have is a unique ability to absorb the qualities of the environment simply just bybeing exposed to them. Being mindful of this, we ensure that our enviornment is ordered and uncluttered. We ensure that our babies and toddlers have a combination of natural materials with different textures, temperatures, shapes and smells through the use of treasure and heuristic baskets. We encourage them to sit on a chair by a table with their feet on the floor in touch with gravity and drink from of real glasses. We show your child how to use a tool or activity so that they can then do it by themselves without the need for adult intervention. We give them the opportunity to go up and down stairs and slide down a chute safely as well as how to use a spoon, fork and knife to spread their own snack and how to pour water from a jug into their glass – all one step progressively at a time. Spilling and making mistakes is how chidlren learn and perfect themselves so we show them and provide them with means to mop up what they spill. We call this a “control of error”.

When they are older they move into the Montessori classroom where children are vertically grouped from two and a half to five years of age.

In the Practical Life area of the room your child finds washing, polishing, pouring, brushing, sweeping, mopping, folding and sewing; in the Sensorial area texture, colour, sound, taste and smell; in the Numbers area quantity and mathematical ideas; in the Language area stenciling, vocabulary, expression, writing and reading.

Your child is also encouraged to become aware of the wider universe and to look outside; to be aware of countries, continents and planets. They have the opportunity to understand the concept of time and how the earth came to be through the prehistoric time line. Your child can express themselves through art, movement, music and drama as they listen to stories, percussion and musical instruments either as participants or as a member of the audience.

Your child has the freedom of choice and movement. Your child chooses their own work and has the opportunity to repeat any activity as often as they wish. The freedom they have contributes to their self-confidence and independence. Our teachers will guide and introduce your child to new activities and ideas and will avoid coercing them into areas for which they may not yet be ready.

The activities that we provide your child with provide learning on more than one level and underpin learning for a later stage when they go to school. In the Numbers area for instance, the Golden Beads teach simple numeracy; the Cube of 1000 is made up of 1000 Golden Beads and is therefore exactly 1000 times as big as one bead.  Through the handling of these materials, it allows the child in a concrete way to understand the relationship of one to another and underpins mathematical learning.

In the Language area your children’s first introduction to the alphabet is through hearing the sound which becomes the letter, written using sandpaper which they can trace and feel. These are called the sandpaper letters. Feeling the roughness of the letter and the smoothness of the background card is something children enjoy. It is through this activity that your child builds up the knowledge of the shape of the letter and its sound, and of simple words – all leading to reading and writing.

In the Biology area of the room matching the pictures to the story of the chick or the frog or the bean,  your child learns about  the fundamentals of the life cycle.

The Montessori approach to learning is a dynamic and complete way to work with children. At Mulberry Bush Montessori we have matched it to the Pre Birth to Three guidance as well as the Curriculum for Excellence, to ensure that it provides the developing child with a rich and wide curriculum.