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Children are welcomed into Les Petites Souris (The Little Mice) and Les Ecureuils (The Squirrels) between the ages of two and three and a half. Les Petites Souris and Les Ecureuils are the first fully-equipped Montessori classrooms of The Gower School and are run by an excellent team of teachers led by Mrs Olaitan Ogunseye (Les Petites Souris), who has BA (Hons) and Montessori diploma and started with us in September 2019, and Miss Fae Coleman (Les Ecureuils), who has NVQ 3 and has been with us since April 2014.
Children learn at their own pace with complete freedom to move around the classroom. They choose from a full range of exciting and stimulating activities catering to their developmental needs, in line with the Early Years Foundation Stage guidelines.
In addition to the ever-popular Home and Book Corners, Les Petites Souris and Les Ecureuils’ classrooms are split into five main areas in keeping with the Montessori philosophy: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, and Understanding the World. The Montessori activities on offer range from simple pouring and transferring exercises to early maths and language materials. The children are shown how to roll and unroll table and floor mats and learn that this is where they carry out their activities, creating a sense of their own workspace.
In these rooms, there is a strong, age-appropriate, emphasis on the Practical Life area. This area underpins the focus on developing the children’s independence, concentration, socialisation, confidence and self-discipline. The implementation of the special helper scheme in this classroom means that the children have a free choice of snacks at any time in the morning. The cutting-up of their own snacks and helping to serve their friends at mealtimes helps to build the child’s sense of responsibility. The independence and confidence developed through using the materials is transferred into the “real world”.
In keeping with the philosophy of the learning following the child, it is only if the child shows an inclination towards letters and numbers that these will be explored. The preparation for this is done so that when they are ready, they have the underlying strengths needed to flourish.
In the mornings, the children participate in the Montessori Work Cycle. The focus is on the teachers observing the children using the various materials on the shelf and presenting new materials/activities planned for, or in response to, their interests.
They also enjoy music and PE lessons on specific days. In the afternoons, children enjoy a range of activities from French (with a native French teacher) to music with Louise Loft, where movement, singing and playing a guitar are explored. Regular sessions of yoga with their teachers (who are all qualified in Yoga for Children), sports skill sessions (with our PE Teacher Mr Barradell) and ever-popular football (with Coach T, our Little Soccer Stars teacher) all complement weekly music lessons with Sarah Wilkinson, our music specialist.
Children love creative activities, so we also incorporate lots of free and messy play into the afternoons because children need that just as much as structured play! As a result, our display of artwork on the school walls is updated frequently.
In order to follow your child’s progress, weekly updates on My Montessori Child are available for each child, in addition to daily verbal feedback from your child’s Key Person when you collect your child. We produce annual written reports on your child and offer you the chance to talk to their Key Person in depth at regular one-to-one sessions to discuss their progress. The Principal will also email all parents a fortnightly nursery newsletter and send an annual report on your child’s progress.
The Gower School is also 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.