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Children are welcomed into Les Papillons (The Butterflies) and Les Dauphins (The Dolphins) from three to five years old. There is at least one Montessori teacher for every eight children.
Les Papillons and Les Dauphins are Montessori classrooms, equipped with the very best resources. Our learning materials are scientifically designed to a high standard by Maria Montessori and are made from natural materials. Les Papillons, led by Miss Lisa Smyth, is the larger of the two classes with up to 30 children. Miss Smyth has worked at The Gower School since 2008 and is the Head of Room. Les Dauphins, led by Miss Katarzyna Batelt, has up to 13 children. Miss Batelt has been with us since 2011.
Montessori learning is split into five different areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics and Culture. Our Montessori teachers work closely with each child to develop an individual plan of activities based on his or her preferences. Each child makes progress in planned, small steps and gains an inner confidence and sureness about themselves and the way that they work. Working individually and in small groups, each child builds up their own repertoire of activities and is encouraged to make independent choices.
Our teachers are all highly-trained observers and they are committed to providing each child with an individual plan of work that challenges them and follows a steady learning programme. Each classroom at our school is very well-resourced with high-quality learning materials to enable a wide range of learning through practical activities. This ensures that the foundation skills of numeracy, literacy and investigation are well-developed in a quiet, firmly controlled, yet happily informal atmosphere.
Children work on a one-to-one basis with their teacher each day, are introduced to new concepts and gain confidence working with the specially-designed Montessori learning materials. Children move at their own pace and teachers can support children who find an area challenging. Equally, children are not held back and are guided and encouraged to help them achieve their full potential.
Once they are confident enough to use the materials alone, the activities form part of their regular work cycle. Freedom of choice is a key theme, so although children are encouraged to work with some activities to ensure that their individual learning is balanced, they have the freedom to choose their work and to organise themselves during their work cycle.
The length of the work cycle is key. Children are uninterrupted for several hours as they work and they are able to concentrate on quite complex tasks, allowing their personal knowledge and interests to develop.
We meet all of the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage and our experience shows that children who start off in our nursery are usually assessed as being ahead of national standards by the time they reach reception class.
Encouraging children to be independent and self-reliant is at the heart of the Montessori ethos. In Les Papillons and Les Dauphins, a snack table is available where children can prepare their own healthy snacks and help themselves throughout the morning. Each day, one or two children are appointed as the Special Helpers for that day – a role that comes with particular responsibilities. The Special Helpers assist with serving lunch to their friends, they bring in a healthy snack to share with others and they can also bring in a favourite CD or book. Each week there is also a Flower Helper, who brings in flowers and arranges them to decorate the classroom.
Specialist professional teachers visit each week and the children enjoy music lessons with Sarah Wilkinson, French with a native French speaker, guitar with Louise Loft, tennis, athletics/sports skills with our Games and P.E. Coordinator Mr Jonathon Barradell and football with Coach T. Many of our specialist teachers also teach at our Primary school. There are also weekly trips to the Islington Tennis Centre for tennis lessons.
All our staff are trained in yoga and we run a weekly optional yoga session. There are trips to the library, park, arts and crafts and cookery lessons.
In Les Papillons and Les Dauphins, children build up to a five-day week. We expect them to attend every day for a minimum of six sessions (five mornings and an afternoon or three full days) by the term after their third birthday. Each Friday, we also have an ‘Open Morning’ between 8am and 9:30am when parents are encouraged to come into the classroom and spend time with their child. Children in Les Papillons and Les Dauphins wear a simple uniform in preparation for school.
The Gower School is very proud to offer parents ‘My Montessori Child’ – a bespoke secure record-keeping system for Montessori schools. We use this in our nursery and primary school and parents are able to log into our system securely to see their child’s progress and development in real time. The Principal will also email all parents a fortnightly school newsletter and send an annual report on your child’s progress.