Our activities are fun, enticing and engaging with lots of emphasis on independence and creative thought. Staff encourage each child to choose their own work and begin developing focused attention on one activity at a time. We help and support the children to finish a complete cycle of activity before beginning another.
We value mealtimes as social, communal and nutritional experiences. Meals are collaborative with the children involved in all stages of setting up, serving and clearing away. We use flowers, quality tableware and individual place settings to create an appealing area where the children love to eat.
Whenever possible, we want the children to experience food in its natural form. For example, buying a whole melon and experiencing its weight, texture, smell and then taste after preparation. Or baking bread and being involved in the whole process, including all the delicious smells.
We give the children the basic skills for preparing fruits and vegetables to eat. For example, cutting carrot tops off, washing the root vegetable, cutting it into pieces and cooking it in different ways.
There are many movements involved in preparing food, which aid the refinement of motor skills. Language opportunities include naming foods, implements and actions. These are words based in common, daily, real experiences so the children absorb and internalise them easily. Cognitive skills are also enhanced through this work. For example, every time a child sets the table he experiences one-to-one correspondence, which is important in mathematics.
Meals are a celebration of our community life. Like everything else, we prepare the children with presentations and work collaboratively until they are gradually able to take on more independent responsibilities.
Preparing Children to Transition to the Children’s House
The I.C. activities of Practical Life are an important way to help children prepare for life in the Children’s House from 3 years onwards. Learning gentle ways to complete cycles of activity, taking care of the activities and helping others will allow the children to transition successfully when we observe their needs changing.
Our small groups and individual lessons allow each child to feel valued and confident in their own abilities. They learn respectful ways to sit together, make choices, share and help as needed.
Each child will leave the I.C. at a slightly different age, depending on their individual needs. Some may be ready at 2 years 8 months and others at 2 years 11 months. We look for their interests changing towards more sensorial work and deeper exploration. Social and language skills increase and we see your child is ready for a new challenge.
A Pedagogical Overview
Montessori said that the first period of development (from birth to 6 years) is split into 0-3 years for acquisition of important skills and 3-6 years for refining them. She called the child during this period the Psychic Embryo; someone with great potential but not yet completely developed.
In utero the physical embryo develops all the necessary physical parts. After birth the psychic embryo is developing all aspects of the species, to adapt to the specific time, place and culture. This is a remarkable period of self-construction during which the child explores his environment using all of his senses.
“The first and third periods [of life] are periods of huge transformations. They are times of great difficulty, times when character is formed… If education is to be based on life, it must be adapted to all these differences.” (The 1946 London Lectures, Dr Maria Montessori)
The change in each human being from the beginning to the end of each plane is a kind of metamorphosis. One is completely different physically and psychologically at the beginning compared with the end. Like a caterpillar and butterfly, there is dramatic change and the person is almost unrecognisable.
In the I.C. we value all aspects of development equally and include many opportunities for language, movement, independence, social development and self-discipline.
We offer a variety of activities, all with slight variations so they keep your child’s interest. For example, adding gradual challenges using different hand grasps, placing alternative rings on to pegs, increasing the number of objects or variations such as discs, cubes and spheres.
All our activities require judgment, calculation and help each child perfect motor skills. The children become more confident; they gradually develop an awareness of the power of their hands to act on the environment and transform it through purposeful activity.
“The child goes from one conquest of independence to another. All phenomena of childhood, walking, talking etc. are conquests of independence. Children must move and act… [the] environment must provide a great deal of mental food and warm, loving treatment. So in our plan for the education of little children we must create an attractive environment. Into this environment we must put everything that is good for the mind, along with an understanding and affectionate person.” (The 1946 London Lectures, Dr Maria Montessori)
Meet the Staff