Information


Our Curriculum

Our mix of carefully planned activities, Montessori equipment, toys and extensive range of resources, ensures that your child has a wealth of opportunities to reach their full potential.  All the Montessori equipment is taught to the 3 ½ -5yr olds and some of the earlier pieces are taught to the 2 ½ -3yr olds, (marked with a star).

  • Practical Life* Much of this section is made up from many items readily available in the home, such as jugs for pouring liquids/solids, containers, funnels, sponges etc used for transferring,  Cleaning i.e. dusting, polishing, washing dishes/clothes and sweeping etc.,  gardening, sewing, sorting by different criteria, and clothes fastenings.  These encourage and strengthen hand to eye control, concentration, pincer movement and encourage children to look after their environment.
  • Sensorial Refines each sense individually.  Activities include, colour*, shades, textures*, flat* and solid shapes, dimensions, weight, serration*, matching odours and tastes, comparing, sorting* and project work*.
  • Language Encouragement of the love of books, confidence in group speaking, explorationof different styles of the written word, letter sounds, phonetic reading, necessary sight words, early phonograms and written work.
  • Mathematics Recognition of the number symbols* and quantities, sequencing*, concept of zero, the concept of addition and subtraction and worksheets.
  • Environmental Studies This covers the sciences, history and geography.  They are all basic activities/projects that the children can relate to in their own lives and experiences such as, nature*, insects*, animals*, magnetism, water studies, countries and customs, religious festivals* and the child’s past events*. 

Montessori

What is Montessori?

‘Montessori’ is taken from Dr Maria Montessori’s name.  She was born in 1870, became the first female Doctor in Italy and studied education, philosophy, psychology and anthropology.  At 28 she worked with ‘defective’ children designing materials and techniques which allowed the children to work in areas considered beyond their capabilities.  These ‘defectives’ then passed the state exams.  Montessori concluded that if her children reached the same academic levels as ‘normal’ children, something must be wrong with mainstream education.  At 37, she founded her first school with poor children from the slums in Italy. Her unique approach led to surprising results.  She observed that previously unruly children, when provided with experiences which corresponded closely to their stage of development, easily became absorbed in purposeful activities. Challenging materials proved a greater interest than toys.  Montessori discovered their remarkable ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings and the desire to teach themselves.  Then, with her son, Dr Mario Montessori, she designed an extensive range of teaching materials to aid this process, using all five senses.  Each piece of equipment teaches a certain skill but can be often used in different ways.  To this day the Montessori equipment is built from high quality prime materials and to precise specifications.

Montessori observed that children up to their sixth year have an absorbent mind and learn without effort, absorbing information like a sponge.  They do not reason consciously, so one cannot always use reason or language to convey concepts to a child at this age.  They learn through observation and exploration.  The child has certain ‘sensitive’ periods and an inner developmental drive which lead to many skills such as language, refinement of senses and social behaviour. During a sensitive period, the child will acquire or refine a skill without effort.  If it is missed, the child then has to learn it later but with more effort.  In the carefully designed Montessori classroom a teacher would recognise and respond to the needs of a child during these periods to provide maximum opportunity for their development.  When the children master a skill, they will also deepen their independence, self confidence and concentration, and so motivate themselves to learn more about that experience.

The Montessori teacher is known as a directress because she directs the child rather than teaches them.  The role of a directress in the classroom is vital.  She does not teach in the traditional sense, but guides each child’s progress helping them to help themselves.  She is trained to observe and respond to the needs of the individual child and yet to direct all in the group.  The directress is concerned with the whole development of the child physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually.  She will recognise a child’s readiness to move on and in this way act as link between the prepared environment and the child’s needs, providing the child with the right kind of activities at the right stages of the child’s development.  She encourages friendships and creates opportunity for the children to learn from each other.  The directress is responsible for the content and the order of the environment.  Her authority is exercised mainly by example.  She shows the child respect and courtesy.  She shows a loving and caring attitude towards nature and all living things, encouraging the child to respect others and treat them as they would wish to be treated themselves.

In the baby unit we promote the Montessori philosophy. We encourage babies and toddlers to explore their environment and experiment with lots of sensory materials, equipment and toys.  We encourage a sense of calm whilst caring for the children.  We love messy activities so please do not dress your babies and toddlers in their best clothes!  In our 2-3yr class we expose the children to even more of the Montessori philosophy as they are now becoming more independent and inquisitive.  The children are introduced to some of the early pieces of Montessori equipment on a one to one basis with the teacher and then once the child is able, they can experiment with them on their own.  This continues and is extended on in our 3-5yr class.  The children will be introduced to yet more of the Montessori equipment which again will be shown on a one to one.  The children are then free to self choose and work in small groups with the equipment. The teachers will mix the Montessori equipment equally with the more traditional nursery activities.  The children will be shown how to treat their friends nicely and given help to develop all their social skills. 


Early Learning Goals

During our Ofsted inspections, we are assessed to see if our curriculum covers the ‘six main areas of learning’ and that we are following the Early Years Foundation Stage. Below we have given just a small example of how we cover these.

  • Personal, social and emotional development Role play, dressing up, meal times, celebrating birthdays and religious festivals, multi cultural activities, sharing, manners game, instruction games, care for the environment, problem solving, circle time, guessing my feelings games and group participation. Montessori philosophy, parts of the Montessori environment studies and practical life.
  • Communication, language and literacy Independent exploration of books, story time, singing/action rhymes, poems, news time, miming games, drama, lots of vocabulary rich conversation, talk about cards, V Tec computers, describing game, memory game and all of the Montessori Language Section.
  • Mathematical development Construction, jigsaws, number rhymes, games that use a dice and counters, dominos, board games such as ‘snakes and letters’, odd & even games, recording findings, worksheets, guessing/telling the time, all of the Montessori mathematics and part of Sensorial.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the world Sand/water play, interest tables, computer and mouse skills, discussions on subjects such as weather, naming local pictures/maps, examining objects with/without a blindfold, using a tape recorder, rubbings, growing plants, life cycles, small world play, festivals, programmable toys and parts of Montessori Environmental Studies and Sensorial.
  • Physical development both in and outside Bikes, trikes, bats, balls and hoops, music and movement, exploring different ways to move, drama, action songs, dance, balancing, obstacle course, imitating games, throwing and catching bean bags/balls, tent building and lots of messy exploration (so don’t forget, no best clothes)!
  • Creative development Painting, exploration of colour, shades, mixing, texture, pencil control activities, cutting activities, junk and clay modeling, play dough, sticking and collage, baking, sewing, listening and playing instruments, movement to music, tessellations and looking at patterns in nature.

Are you entitled to help with your nursery fees?

Are you entitled to help with your nursery fees?

  • 2YR funding: Some children are entitled to 10 hrs free childcare. To check your entitlement, seek advice from your Health Visitor or Children’s Centre. If you are entitled they will issue you with a letter, explaining everything and to show to your chosen nursery.
  • 3-5YR funding: Once you child reaches the age of three, we can claim back the cost of 2½ hrs per session (up to five sessions per week), for you.
  • Working tax credit: If your household income is less than £58,000, you could be entitled to some financial help.  To find out more, contact the Inland Revenue and ask about the childcare element of the working tax credit.
  • Childcare Vouchers: We except all childcare vouchers offered by your employers. If your employers do not offer this tax incentive please let as know.
  • Childcare Coupons: If you are attending any courses at your local Children’s centre you will be offered Childcare Coupons for the cost of your childcare. You can use these as payment here at Building Blocks.