About The Glen Montessori School
The Glen Montessori Pre-School is situated in the tranquil suburb of Glenferness, located between Beaulieu and Lonehill, near Kyalami.
The school opened its doors in 2001 and has grown to be a well-established provider of quality Montessori education to children between the ages of 18 months and 9 years.
These well equipped and carefully prepared environments enable the children to be continually exposed to activities and guidance which support the motto of the school: “Free to learn”.
“Our aim is to provide the best possible prepared environment, according to the Montessori philosophy, in order to promote physical, social, emotional, moral and intellectual development. The children are free to learn, thereby enabling them to reach their potential.”
The Montessori approach emphasises equal importance of the child, the teacher and the prepared environment. The child is respected as an individual, with unique developmental and learning needs. The directress (teacher) is not just an ‘expert who imparts knowledge’ but rather the connecting link between the child and the material that is best suited to meeting his/her needs at a given time.
The approach is based on the guiding principle of freedom within limits and structure. The child is free to choose, to move, to explore and to interact socially but very importantly each child is also free from interference. Disruption and disturbance by others is therefore limited. Each child learns the routine and structure of the classroom and daily activities.
Montessori education is based on the provision of a specially prepared environment that consists of materials constructed to meet a child’s developmental needs and learning at various periods of sensitivity.
The prepared environment is aesthetically pleasing and reflects peace and tranquility. The setup is logical, simple and not over stimulating.
The materials and surroundings of a Montessori environment are, as far as is possible, natural and real.
The Montessori environment is social. There is freedom to interact and children develop compassion, empathy, teamwork and leadership. Spontaneous grouping takes place whilst disturbance to others is minimised. The children benefit from the modelling that stems from vertical grouping (multi-age setting). In a mixed age class children can always find peers who are working at their current level. To accommodate the needs of individual children, the prepared environment includes materials that cover the entire span of interests and abilities, up to and beyond the oldest and most accelerated child in the class. This creates a highly enriching environment. The younger children are stimulated by the interesting work of the older children and observation thereof only adds to their growth. The continuity within the classroom leads to a sense of community.
Importantly, the environment is geared towards the overall development of the child, including intellectual growth. Intellectual development occurs, in a large part, through exploration of the specific learning materials. The Montessori philosophy enables children to trust their own abilities and solve problems independently. Each apparatus has a specific learning purpose and self-correcting nature so that the child learns through experience with the support of his / her directresses.
The directresses have a key role in ensuring the environment is well prepared and that all children are being supported to grow in accordance with their developmental needs to reach their potential. The directress gets to know the children extremely well, therefore enabling her to motivate the individual to higher levels of competence.
Foremost in Montessori education is to enhance a sound work ethic and a love for learning!
The Practical Life Area
In the Practical Life area, the child carries out familiar home activities such as sweeping, polishing, pouring and preparing food and many more. Activities are non-threatening and allow the child to carry out the activity for the sake of the process, not the outcome. The child may repeat activities in line with their current learning needs and experience success relating to these. These activities are designed to help the child achieve independence through meaningful tasks with real life objects. They help develop co-ordination, concentration, independence, hand dexterity, patience and “grace and courtesy.” The Practical Life activities develop the child’s ability to concentrate which is the best possible preparation for the intellectual work to come. This area helps to develop a good work ethic and refines movement which is important for future academic growth.
The Sensorial Area
Sensorial materials are specially designed materials aimed at enhancing and refining the senses. These activities are presented to the child who then carries them out in a set way that aids development. The sensorial material therefore allows the child to understand the environment while learning through the senses. Each piece of apparatus has an isolated quality, such as colour, weight, size, sound, texture or smell.
Growth occurs as the child correctly applies his / her senses and manipulates objects. Children work with specific sets of blocks, rods, cylinders graduated in size, knobbed cylinders which have to be fitted into the right holes in a block, and many more activities that involve differentiating materials from one another and sensory exploration.
All these activities develop the child’s understanding of the world, enhance his/ her attention to detail and ultimately refine the senses for all other life and learning experiences.
The Cultural Area
The cultural area of the classroom consists of material relating to geography, history, music, botany, zoology, science and art. Apparatus relating to these subjects includes globes, maps, puzzles, nomenclatures (sets of cards for isolating, matching and naming elements), object matching activities, materials for set experiments (for example magnetic and non-magnetic, sink and float etc), books and many more. Together the directress and the child discover using learning materials. The child grows to understand and appreciate the links between all things. He / she develops a real understanding, respect for and care of his world.
The Mathematical Area
The mathematical area enhances learning through the exploration and discovery of mathematical ‘truths’. Mathematical apparatus is based on the idea that concrete experience builds the foundation for understanding of future abstract mathematical concepts. As with other apparatus a single learning is isolated, for example, the concept of zero meaning “nothing” when it stands alone; the introduction of odds and evens; the concept of addition; and so forth. The maths area appeals to the child’s sensitivity to order in this phase of his / her life. The child enjoys working with the apparatus and develops an inquiring mind whilst learning a ‘universal language’.
The Language Area
The Language Area
The language area consists of materials relating to all elements of a child’s language development. This area includes apparatus which prepares the child for writing and materials which introduce the child to elements of language such as nouns, verbs, pronouns, collective nouns, singular and plural and opposites. The game of “I Spy” is played in a structured way so that the child may learn to identify and isolate sounds in words.
Apparatus known as the sandpaper letters are used to teach the child the phonetic alphabet which forms the basis for spelling (word building) and reading. The child progresses through pink (3 letter phonetic words), blue (larger phonetic words) and green (blends and exceptions) word building and reading material. The child is constantly exposed to materials which extend vocabulary and enhance overall expressive and receptive language ability.
Montessori materials each have a working aim and a number of indirect aims. They are child sized, attractive and in good condition. Materials are relevant and culturally specific. They are freely available to the children to select, work with and return to their rightful position.
All items needed for an activity are located together and their position on the shelves remains constant so that the child can independently select and carry out ‘work’. The arrangement is from simple to more complex meaning the child will work through materials in a logical order suited to his / her developing need for the enhancement of skills and achievement.
All materials have a ‘control of error’ or self correcting nature which allows the child to learn from experience and to correct mistakes. This develops perseverance, a positive self image and attitude towards making mistakes. Apparatus first aims at concrete understanding which forms the basis for later abstract understanding.
Intellectual, emotional and social development
Montessori philosophy is based on the premise that children have an intrinsic motivation, love for learning and naturally guide their own development if provided with the opportunity and resources to do so. There are developmentally appropriate expectations placed on the children to challenge themselves in accordance with their individual potential and developmental phase. Children work in all areas within the structure without interference from others. As this happens the children increasingly take responsibility for their daily learning. In this way their confidence and independence grows. They feel inwardly accountable to do their best and feel proud of their efforts. They learn to make choices every day. Because the children are grouped vertically they ‘compare’ themselves with children at different levels, thus basing their achievements more on their own improvement than against others. The directress works with the children at each opportunity to develop their social and emotional coping skills, increase their ability to express their needs and feelings, apologise sincerely and place themselves in the shoes of others.
The structure and method enables spontaneous group work. A sense of community, respect for the individuals and team work are highly valued in the class setting. Children are constantly exposed to working together to learn together or achieve a common goal. In physical education they are also introduced to goal directed teamwork. ‘Grace and Courtesy’ is considered a Montessori ‘subject’ and emphasis is placed on the social interactions and acceptable behavior in these contexts. Because the children now learn more deeply about other cultures and languages they naturally become increasingly knowledgeable and respectful of differences between individuals and groups of people. This is a natural time of looking outward at the world and those around them.
Importantly, the children have fun with each other, the directresses and the apparatus as they learn and play.
As with other planes of development the directresses guide the children's physical development and introduce activities that give each child age appropriate opportunities for growth. These are both ad hoc individually, in small groups or in set group lessons.
These group lessons are given regularly to increase strength and learn skills that form the foundation for learning and of later physical education and sports. These aim to increase body control, awareness and refinement of movement in the general sense. They also cover specific skills such as hand-eye coordination, using a bat / stick / racket and ball, kicking throwing, catching. These lessons become increasingly specific in the Junior Primary while always building on a solid foundation.
Aftercare Until 16h30
This service is provided daily, excluding mid-term and termly break up days.
At 12h45, all the children who have not been picked up join aftercare at Orange Environment. A register is then taken and parents are billed accordingly at the end of the month. Once the register has been taken the set daily fees apply. There are two charge options depending on collection time – between 12h45 and 14h00 and between 14h00 and 16h30. There is an exit time at 14h00 and another one at 16h30. Fees vary according to these exit times.
Children making use of this facility bring an additional lunch box as they all have lunch together. The children are supervised on the playground and while they make use of the aftercare materials. The facility is not an extension of our educational hours. The aim is to provide quality supervision and fun for the children. The younger children have an opportunity to nap.
Children are collected by parents or significant others from the Orange environment no later than 16h30.
Frequently asked questions
Schools take applications for a specific grade in a given year. From research done by a prospective parent on the admissions process at five of our closest and most preferred schools in the area, the following is reported:
- Each school was eager to accept a new application
- Each confirmed that there is generally movement at the end of grade 3 / beginning of grade 4
- No school is in a position to forecast how much movement there will be in a given year
- The waiting lists for Grade 4 is much less than for Grade R and Grade 1
- The offer is made the year before
- A number of schools said that they have been able to provide families on the waitlists with positions over the past years
- Each school suggested that the application be made as soon as the decision is made to apply for Grade 4 for a given year. This is because for these entries first come, first served
- Entry will be based on a readiness assessment
- A request can be made to roll over an application from a current application for Grade R to the preferred year of entry and grade
- No questions were asked as to reasons for application Grade 4 entry (and not before), no judgment was passed in this regard and no pressure was placed to select another year
- The admissions personal were all helpful and informative
Please find application forms attached or contact Brenda Smith on 082 – 256 3238 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Entering Grade 4 from Grade 3 is a notable step for any child but with the correct preparation, life skills and support, a child will cope with the changes and challenges they are faced with. There is a period of adjustment from Grade 3 to Grade 4 for all the children, including those moving within the school. Children move from the nurturing space of having a single class teacher to physically moving between subjects and teachers with higher expectations on independence and academic achievement.
The Montessori approach is geared towards the enhancement of all facets of the child’s being – physical, emotional, intellectual, social and moral. From your experience as a family of The Glen you will have an idea of how this is achieved.
On a daily basis the child’s development is observed and the directresses support the child’s learning needs so that his / her potential and overall age related development is reached. Because the children are with us for a number of years, where a child may take time to grasp a concept / achieve a learning goal, individual time and attention may be given to this. Where a child may excel in an area, the child is given the opportunity and individual attention to do so. One area is not focused on at the expense of another. Thus, by the time the child enters Grade 4 their overall development is established for the age-related expectations of Senior Primary. The Montessori method and resources allow for advancement beyond this if the child is able and keen to learn more than that which is ‘required’ of him/ her by traditional Grade 3 standards, resulting in the child having the opportunity to enter the new school with an academic advantage and in all likelihood reaching potential on this particular plane of development.
One of the key differences between a Montessori school and a traditional school is the degree to which the teacher formally leads and instructs in a group setting. Practically, due to different approaches and educational methods, our pre-primary school does, and our Junior primary will, include opportunities that prepare the children for the more concrete changes in approach to teaching and societal functioning as a whole going forward (e.g. group instruction at school level, university and in the work place). Importantly, there will be conscious and purposeful bridging during the three year period and nearing Grade 4 that prepares the child to generalize their learning even further to include exact methods of application at our surrounding schools. All the while, however, we aim to stand true to the Montessori Method and apparatus.
Socially, there is a shift every year as children move from one year to another. Friendships are split as children are placed in different classes and new ones are formed as children are placed with different children each year. At The Glen the children experience this shift. They make friends of different ages and each year the oldest children in the class move on and new younger children enter. There is a period of adjustment each new year. Your children will enter grade 4 at this natural time of adjustment and will use their social skills to make new friends. It is essential that children are supported at this time – be available to them to talk about what is happening at school without judgement or pressure and be available for play dates and opportunities to get to know your new community. ‘Old’ friendships are important. Keep in touch with good friends from The Glen and demonstrate that friendships can continue and be enjoyed outside the school setting. This will inevitably provide some constancy while the child settles into his / her new social setting at their new school.
This system of education is our chosen method because of the focus on child-led education that develops the whole child in all areas. Our children are well-adjusted and well-prepared in general.
Although the Glen utilises a Montessori method of education, the aim of all learning is that it may be generalised. For example, truly understanding how a number is divided in a concrete sense, then working through the apparatus that naturally leads to abstraction will open the door to doing division in different ways. The mathematical truths and understandings are unwavering. What varies from school to school is then what type of algorithm method is used in the day to day class. In language the initial system or method for teaching word building, spelling and reading varies but the outcome of these is that the individual child can build words, spell and read. The initial system falls away once the base for these is achieved. Key phonograms are taught from the outset and the others are introduced shortly thereafter. One element that varies from school to school is the type of handwriting font that is used.
In light of the above, it is imperative that we are aware of some of the specifics that our surrounding schools assume in their teaching methods and practice. In continuing with the example above, the Montessori child will be given the opportunity, before joining their new school, to generalise their learning further by practicing division sums in the method used by their grade 4 school. The form of handwriting used at The Glen will be that of the surrounding schools. A child that continues their education at another Montessori school in the 9 to 12 year phase will simply continue with the Montessori apparatus with this in mind.
The Department of Education has laid out standards for each age and grade that every school in South Africa has to achieve as a minimum. This is known as the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS). The Glen is accountable to The Department to produce proof of meeting these standards. The Montessori Apparatus will be used to achieve this. As it stands, in reviewing the CAPS requirements, we are more than meeting the requirements. We shall, however, have recording methods to ensure every single point is covered and achieved each term. This is required by The Department and can be audited at any time.
Please note that, although there will be formal efforts made to bridge learning and achieve minimum requirements, the Montessori way of teaching is geared to allow the child to progress past the expectations of a set grade. At no time will a child be limited in how ‘far’ they progress if their interest and ability allow for progress.
Entry into “big school” is an adjustment for any child but with the correct preparation, life skills and support, a child will cope with the changes and challenges they are faced with.
The Montessori approach is geared towards the enhancement of all facets of the child’s being – physical, emotional, intellectual, social and moral. From reading the website’s information you will have an idea of how this is achieved and should allow yourself the opportunity to see this in practice if you have not done so as yet.
On a daily basis the child’s development is observed and the directresses support the child’s learning needs so that his / her potential and overall age related development is reached. Because the children are with us for a number of years, where a child may take time to grasp a concept / achieve a learning goal, individual time and attention may be given to this. Where a child may excel in an area the child is given the opportunity and individual attention to do so. One area is not focussed on at the expense of another. Thus by the time the child is ready for Grade 0 / 1 their overall development is established for the age-related expectations of Primary School.
One of the key differences between a Montessori school and a traditional school is the degree to which the teacher formally leads and instructs in a group setting.
Practically, due to different approaches and educational methods, our school has implemented additional opportunities that prepare the children for the more concrete changes in approach to teaching and societal functioning as a whole going forward e.g. group instruction at school level, university and in the work place.
As you will have read in the ‘daily and weekly routine’ information, “horse groups” (Monday activities) rotate over the course of a number of weeks and the children are thus exposed to different teachers, environments and activities. This provides them with fun learning activities and essentially exposes them to ‘change’ and variety which prepares them for Primary School where they will often move from class to class and other areas of the school.
In our bi-weekly art and craft, and gross motor lessons children learn to follow and carry out group instructions. These group lessons prepare the children for the traditional school setting.
Importantly we appreciate any feedback from our local Primary schools, to which we are a feeder school, and consider it in light of our approach and our wish to best prepare our children, not only for Primary school, but for their future life in general.
At a young age children are naturally inclined towards discovering reality. All things are real to a child and they have difficulty distinguishing between reality and fantasy. A child spontaneously mimics reality. The Montessori approach discourages exposure to adult created fantasy. Depending of course on the content of adult created fantasy, it can expose a child to scary, mythical creatures and violence as a way of solving daily social challenges. As adults we have the ability to clearly tell what is real and what is fantasy but a young child is not able to do so. These creatures and coping skills become a reality in their world.
Imagination can be defined as the process of forming mental images of objects in the absence of concrete stimuli. For example, I can imagine a tea party with my friends even if they are not present. I can thus transform my world creatively.
Imagination is based on reality, whereas fantasy is unrestrained by reality.
Montessori believed that opportunities for real experience which form the basis of imagination should not be sacrificed for fantasy in the child’s early years. Imagination, however, should be embraced!
From the age of five onwards, depending on the individual child, a child will steadily develop their ability to differentiate between reality and fantasy.
The Montessori teaching in the pre-school years thus excludes fantasy based content.
The Montessori Method promotes freedom within structure. The children learn the routine of the school day and school week and benefit from the security and familiarity that this offers. It affords them freedom of choice and movement within a structured environment. You will have discovered, through reading the website’s information on our school, that our daily and weekly routine is consistent and there are set expectations regarding how the children relate to the apparatus, the directresses, each other and their environment.
The rules of “walk”, “whisper” and “work” are emphasized when necessary in our environments. These are based around the Montessori principle of – ‘freedom from disturbance / interference from others’. We use these positives rather than “don’t run”, “stop shouting” etc and thus request that the child demonstrate the positive behaviour rather than “stop” the negative behaviour.
Modelling within our environments has a hugely positive effect on good behaviour in our classrooms. The children remain with us over a three year period therefore as ‘new’ children enter our classes they observe what already exists – how the children relate to the apparatus, the directresses, each other and their environment. Older children naturally assist by modelling good behaviours and guide the younger ones.