The Montessori Vision
The philosophy of Blue Gum is based on the Montessori approach to education, which embraces the development of the whole child, fosters a love of learning in children, helps them to develop self-confidence, independence, self-regulation and a sense of self-worth, and guides them towards emotional intelligence and pro-social behaviour.
While encouraging independence, self-reliance and a questioning mind, respect for others and the environment is also developed. This is achieved in the orderly prepared environment unique to the Montessori indoor learning space under the guidance of specially trained educators.
Maria Montessori (1870 - 1952) recognised that education starts at birth and that the first six years, being the most formative both physically and mentally, are the most important.
The five Areas of THE MONTESSORI CURRICULUM
Practical Life - the skills of daily living
The younger children in particular are interested in practical activities, such as the tasks they see accomplished at home, and which they wish to imitate as they strive for independence. These experiences include food preparation, pouring, washing up, cleaning, mastering buttons or zips, simple sewing tasks, plant care etc,.
These Practical Life activities are satisfying in themselves for the children and also develop concentration, orderly work patterns, hand-eye co-ordination, gross and fine motor skills, all of which are essential preliminary skills for later writing and reading.
In addition, children learn to care for themselves, their belongings and their surroundings, along with how to interact in a respectful, inclusive and courteous way.
Sensorial - exploring the world
The Sensorial materials break down abstract concepts into concrete activities.
Concepts such as dimension, colour, form, texture, volume, weight and shape are easily understood using materials that clearly isolate each concept.
Children spontaneously choose to work with these materials because they fulfil their desire to explore their world through all their senses.
The indirect preparation for writing, mathematics, patterning/coding and design elements are further enhanced through manipulation of these materials.
Language & COMMUNiCATION - from spoken to written
The Language area builds on the children’s natural interest in language and communication. Young children are offered experiences that share a celebration of language and literacy through reading stories & story-telling, discussions & sharing their ideas, the introduction of Sandpaper Letters, vocabulary extension and consolidation games .
For the older child, the language area builds on the ability of the child to distinguish the sounds that make up our language, and the child’s growing interest in recognising letters, mark making and forming letters. The dexterity of the hand has been prepared for this work through the fine motor skills already developed when engaging with practical life activities, art & drawing experiences and sensorial activities.
The Sandpaper Letters allow children to "feel" the letters and to develop through sensory stimulation, muscle memory for forming letter symbols. Children are presented with the ‘phonetic’ sounds of letters and this extends to a phonic reading approach. The Moveable Alphabet allows children to make their own words and stories even though the may not yet be able to write clearly.
Some children will progress to ‘extended literacy learning’. This may include story writing and working with materials which present the intricacies of non-phonetic spelling and grammar.
The satisfaction achieved through working with the Moveable Alphabet will inspire the child to use a pencil to create more permanent stories, and the child begins to write without having been "taught".
At this point the children know what they have written and begin to read back their own stories. They come to reading by themselves, having already absorbed the necessary keys.
Culture, NATURE & SUSTAINABILITY - integrated into life
The Cultural, Nature and Sustainability area includes natural science, gardening, embedded sustainability practices, geography, celebrating cultures, embedded Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander perspectives, history, art and music.
Children are naturally curious about the world they live in, meeting each day with inquiry, a sense of discovery and a spirit for adventure.
Our natural history shelves house a range of nature finds that children are invited to explore. These are things like: snake skins, Cicada Shells, seedpods, rock & minerals, shells, insects and much more. An interest in the natural world can further be explored through nature-play, life-cycle work, classification & observation, learning about ‘parts of things’, such as special words used when talking about horses such as the mane, hooves, tail, neck.
A celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is embedded in our everyday learning experiences and environment. This can be experienced through the materials and experiences we provide such as: puzzles, stories, using a Coolamon to carry things, the instruments we use, greetings we use & songs we sing (in our local Darug or Gundungarra language), nature-play, natural play materials, Aboriginal art works and art/craft experiences.
The children use puzzle maps, cultural objects, cultural language materials, the world globe, cultural experiences and flags to learn about their own and other countries. Music is explored both by participation and listening.
A variety of art & craft experiences are available at all times - children may choose activities such as drawing, painting, clay work, pasting, beeswax, sewing, weaving, collage and playdough. Children engage in their creative experiences in a child-led, open-ended way, as well as through educator facilitated intentional learning experiences.
Nature learning and interests are explored both in our indoor and outdoor learning environments. Our outdoor nature-playground and garden offers children the opportunity to create & explore in an open-ended way surrounded by the elements of nature such as: water, dry creek-beds, food gardens, trees, a huge sand discovery area and loose natural play materials. Outside the children tend the gardens, care for the Worm Farm, make compost, mulch the gardens, harvest food, water our gardens using water we harvest from our roof and that we collect from our water-based indoor activities.
Each term external visitors are invited to share areas of special interest with the children.
Mathematics - from concrete to abstract
Young children are introduced to mathematical thinking initially through language and the ways we use language to describe our everyday experiences and interactions. For example: someone has more or less than another person; “Is something larger or smaller?”'; “Are there more or less?”; “Is she taller or shorter?”; we may need to share something out in a game (the concept of division); we are giving something away (subtraction); we are collecting things (addition), one more than'; one less (giving away or subtraction).
Mathematics grew out of our ‘human experience’ to describe and help us order our experiences. In this sense, developing a relationship to mathematical thinking, descriptive language and formal maths concepts is a natural maturational element of development.
For the older child, the Mathematics area also introduces abstract ideas and relationships through the use and manipulation of concrete materials.
For example, through the materials of the Spindle Box, a child can physically see and feel that "1" is smaller than "10". The game of Secret Numbers invites the children to work collaboratively while learning about 1:1 correspondence of a number symbol - say ‘ the number 5’ and it’s value. In our game the child chooses a mystery number from a cloth bag, she then identifies the number and counts out the corresponding number of pebbles.
The concept of ‘10’ is emphasised in many materials, as our whole number system is based on this.
The child is introduced to the functions and operations of numbers, learning to add, subtract, multiply and divide, all through the use of the unique Montessori materials.