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 Orange Environment
The Orange Environment consists of the children aged 3 to 6 years old.
The Orange class is equipped with Montessori apparatus and introduces the children to the basic routines and approach that is utilised in the age 3 to 6 environments.
This class has a separate playground to the other Environments, with age appropriate outdoor equipment.
The Montessori method
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 Learning Environments
The classrooms consist of the five areas of the specially prepared Montessori environment, namely practical life, sensorial, mathematics, language, and cultural.
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 materials 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 is 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.
Structure & Routine
The work cycle within this environment starts when each individual child arrives at school. It lasts between 2.5 and 3 hours.
The children work with materials & equipment in the Paractical life, Sensorial, Mathematical, and Cultrual and Language areas
Ring time takes place at about 10am.
The children and directresses discuss any news, the theme for the week and any other relevant information.
Snack time is followed by outdoor time for approximately 1 hour.
Activities after this includes Group Art, Baking, Fine & Bross motor co-ordination skills and Show & tell.
A NOTE ON STRUCTURE AND ROUTINE
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.
The following extra mural activities are offered at the school.
These take place from 10h30 onwards.
Children taking part in extra activities therefore still benefit from an uninterrupted work cycle.
Sport and Movement Development Specialists
Playball introduces children to 7 different sports and develops: listening skills, perception, life skills, self-confidence, gross motor skills, co-ordination, left / right dominance, concentration, rhythm and timing, midline crossing, independence and balance. Groups consist of 4-8 children per class. Coaching is creative and individual attention is given in a non-competitive environment.
Colourstrings is a child-centred approach to musicianship conceived and developed in Finland by Geza Szilvay. It is based on the principles of Kodalay who saw music as a birthright and recognised the voice as the fundamental tool for experiencing and expressing music. Through singing, children from birth to 5 years enjoy music, develop aural skills, and become musically literate. Their training in the Music Kindergarten means young beginners are musicians before they start an instrument.
Building Kids is about learning through play – it’s fun! It is a Lego based Education Program. The aim is to help children to work together on solving challenging problems by promoting creative thinking, improving communication and strengthening ability to acquire new knowledge.
Building Kids subscribes to the belief that learning should take place through construction rather than instruction.
Working alongside other children helps to develop confidence, encourages social interaction, communication and interpersonal skills. Building Kids understands that effective learning is driven by the emotions of curiosity, excitement, concentration, pride and joy.
The Dance Mouse syllabus is aimed at boys and girls. It introduces various dance forms with a focus on body conditioning and pilates techniques.
The primary aim is to encourage children to enjoy dance expression and to increase the passion and love of dance in South Africa. It allows the child technical training, spatial awareness, rhythm and exercise.It builds this through self confidence and is fun.
Soccer takes place once a week on a Monday.
Aftercare Until 16h30
This service is provided daily, excluding mid-term and termly break up days.
An aftercare roster is available to fill in at each classroom. Daily or weekly bookings are made ahead of time.
At 12h45, all the children who have not been picked up and takes them to the 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 fee applies.
Children making use of this facility bring an additional lunch box for this occasion as they have lunch together. The children are supervised on the playground and take part in set activities on some days. 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 Green environment no later than 16h30.
The Green Environment’s school hours are 07h00 to 12h00 (18 months - 3 years).
The Orange Environment's school hours are from 07h00 to 12h30 (3-6 years).
The Blue Environment's hours are from 07h00 to 13h30
There is an optional aftercare service until 16h30.
The school calendar is based around the three term independent school calendar utilised by the surrounding independent primary schools. Slight variations may exist.
Our official school starting time is 7h45. Children may arrive at school from 7h00.
In the Orange and Blue environments the children place their belongings in their lockers and enter the classroom independently. They then begin their work cycle.
In the Green environment (18 month -3 years) the children enter the classroom with their parents. They unpack their snack and water bottles and place their bags in their lockers. Initially they do so with their parents and a teacher but as the year progresses they learn to do so independently. They then begin their work cycle.
They generally select work that ‘settles’ them into their school day. This is unique to each child.
One of the key components of the Montessori approach is the unlimited, undisturbed work cycle. This is the time when children utilize materials to achieve their learning potential.
Throughout the work cycle children select and carry out activities that have been presented to them at this time or previously, and then return materials to their rightful place. They do so independently. However, the directresses actively engage with the children throughout their work cycle. The directresses ensure the classroom is free of disturbance and that constructive learning takes place for each child daily and in accordance with their learning needs and potential.
All individual apparatus is packed away and a group lesson takes place ‘on the ring’ at approximately 10h15 for the Orange environment (3-6 years) and slightly earlier for the Green environment (18 months -3 years). Facts are shared, presentations given and discussions are held on the theme of the week.
The children then eat snack together on tables outside. When they are finished their snack the children play outside under the supervision of the directresses.
Frequently asked questions
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.