Practical life activities at The Gower School provide opportunities for the children to practise life skills such as caring for the classroom, using child-sized brushes and dusters, watering plants, and caring for pets. The children are also encouraged to look after their personal hygiene and their environment through hand-washing, polishing, dusting, cloth-washing and activities such as cleaning tables, sweeping and mopping. Working alone and with others, the children develop practical and social skills enabling them to feel capable and self-reliant members of the community.
The Montessori sensorial materials refine and enhance children’s sense perception, allowing them to gain maximum stimulus from their exploration of the world around them. Children use construction games, puzzles and listening activities to investigate concepts such as big and small, light and heavy, or long and short. There are many opportunities to explore colours, textures, shapes and patterns. These sensorial experiences enhance children’s powers of observation and discrimination, broaden their vocabulary and contribute to their later understanding of formal educational concepts.
With the wide range of materials we provide at The Gower School, the children are free to innovate and to explore information in order to assimilate new concepts of seeing and understanding. Imaginative exploration spans all areas of classroom experience and children’s exposure to creative art is enhanced by our carefully-graded introduction to art techniques and styles. The creative curriculum involves the fusion of visual arts (drawing, painting, modelling), literature (stories, poems, the spoken word), music and movement, dance and dramatic arts (role play, story acting). Our visiting music specialists complement the curriculum. Children have age-appropriate opportunities to perform and share their musical repertoire with their family and friends throughout the year.
By exposing children to all manner of arts experiences, we ensure that they acquire the tools to make relationships with others. This becomes an additional, sophisticated means of communication on the path to confident self-expression. The more language tools children possess, the more articulate their communication and the greater their use of the imagination.
The Montessori cultural curriculum introduces a plethora of activities that develop the children’s understanding of the wider world. Children use globes, puzzle maps and artefact boxes to underpin activities which build their understanding of other countries, cultures and people. Activities teach them to match, classify and name the elements and species of the natural world, using picture and name cards, as well as relevant models. The practical skills that we encourage in growing plants and caring for pets help to form a bridge between their knowledge of the immediate environment and the wider world. Our garden areas are an extension of the classroom and the children enjoy planting seeds, tending to flowers and digging in our vegetable beds. The children take an active part in composting, weeding and recycling – all contributing to their enhanced understanding of their natural environment.
The Gower School nursery is well-resourced with computers which the children enjoy using for educational games, as well as for finding out about areas of interest. The children are able to record their world using digital cameras and video films. The classrooms are also equipped with CD players and the children enjoy sharing headsets and listening to stories or music of their choice. Children experiment with ‘old’ IT items, exploring and taking items apart to ‘fix’ them. Children are sometimes shown short film clips to reinforce topic work covered in class.
Children are free to converse with their peers while they play and their language is modelled by staff. The mixed aged grouping of 2½ – 5 year olds means that a much wider range of conversation is facilitated. Our cultural curriculum of activities in geography, history, religious festivals, cultural awareness and environmental studies extends the children’s scope for discussion and is constantly introducing new vocabulary and ideas. Children also have free access to a library corner. They can request a story at any time during the session and group story times are a regular occurrence. Staff discuss storylines and characters with the children and there are group activities during which the children role play characters from their favourite books.
Circle games, rhyming songs, clapping rhythms, poetry and all manner of musical genre extend the child’s individual listening skills. As children show an interest in alphabet sounds and letters, they are guided to progress through the literacy curriculum step by step. The Gower School offers an extensive range of early reading materials and children build a solid base in the Language area.
We recognise that mathematics is underpinned by an understanding of relationships in the environment and being able to express them in different terms. Our maths materials and teaching aids (such as the number of rods and spindle boxes) are simple and interesting and provide step-by-step learning. They provide a range of counting and sorting games in which the children explore quantities and eventually numerals. They are also self-correcting, which means that children can see at a glance if they have made a mistake and can put it right without a teacher’s help. This enables them to progress at their own rate and understand each stage thoroughly before they move on to the next one.
All the Montessori materials provide a real understanding of mathematical concepts, which later become more abstract. At the nursery stage though, the children work with very visual, hands-on learning materials.
The principles and philosophy of Dr Maria Montessori underpin our educational approach. To find out more and to read our full curriculum, please ask our Head of Nursery next time you visit The Gower School or attend one of our regular parents’ workshops.
The Gower School is also very proud to offer parents the ‘My Montessori Child’ facility. This is a bespoke secure record-keeping system for Montessori schools. We use this in our nursery and reception Montessori classes and parents are able to securely log into our system to see their child’s progress in real time.