Be inspired to learn….
The education we offer at WMS is an exciting and inspiring journey of discovery and the acquisition of life-long learning skills and experiences for children from two to six years.
Our lower and upper school buildings are specially prepared with a full complement of Montessori didactic materials that teach the full breadth of Montessori subjects as well as many additional areas of study which are taught using specialist staff.
In the early years children are introduced to practical life activities to encourage independence and self confidence as well as development through the senses with beautifully designed materials to awaken learning through direct sensorial experience. Early maths, language, science, and geography principles are developed with hands-on equipment and activities. Teachers inspire young children’s natural curiosity in learning about the world around them.
The education offered at WMS crucially places an emphasis on developing not just the core academic subjects but complementary studies that allow children to cultivate interests and talents and make connections among subjects. We believe that our teachers trained to teach and are chosen for those qualities and so they are not oppressed by excessive pressure on them to produce paperwork and data. The children undoubtedly benefit from having so much time with their teachers who are happy, dedicated and dynamic.
Each term our class teachers write to parents to outline what will be covered in the coming weeks of that term. We hope this is a valuable insight into what additional topics your children will discover at our school. You can find out much more at each of the class curriculum meetings.
Working beyond a basic curriculum
Our children enjoy fun weekly sessions of drama, music, art, ICT, PE and Italian. In the upper school French is also introduced as a weekly lesson along with design technology and PSHE. In Summer 2016, we introduced basic coding lessons to develop WMS pupils’ understanding and learning in the world of computers and programming.
A varied PE curriculum sees the children experience tennis, swimming, gym, yoga, dance, athletics, cricket, cross country and rounders.
Optional clubs during morning and lunchtime breaks in the upper school offer children the chance to experience other interests and include camera club, games club, recorder club and our unique and very popular Mandarin Language Club.
These fun sessions outside of normal class time allow children to try new ideas. Foreign language lessons are always taught by native speakers and include learning aspects of the culture and songs, etc. Previous languages taught at the school also include Russian, Arabic and Japanese.
To support the learning in all areas there are trips or events to bring a subject to life. A few examples of these are:
- A trip to the Royal Opera House to watch The Royal Ballet rehearse and then perform.
- A visit to the national portrait gallery.
- A dance display with choreography by the children.
- A visit to Lords cricket ground to lean more about the history of the game as well as a kwik cricket coaching session at the ground.
- Sessions for the children to work with a local special needs school and learn about diversity and supporting others and forging friendships.
Art week saw the whole school including parents create spectacular murals to celebrate the school’s 15th birthday. For World Book Day, we carried out a trip to the library as well as library role play and visits from authors. In addition to this, parents came into school to read their favourite books.
Incorporating British values has included meeting the Queen, learning about the royal family, learning about the history of Walthamstow and its local architects. Weekly sessions at ‘Grow Wild’ give our children the chance to physically explore.
In 2015 every class in the school began weekly food preparation and gardening sessions to learn crucial skills and further prepare pupils for life.
In 2018 WMS will become a ‘Forest School’ offering further outdoor learning challenges and experiences.
WMS is a community where children are known and loved.
Part of the school’s responsibility is overseeing the social, emotional, and ethical development of its children. Teachers are all trained in relevant guidance strategies and anti bullying and provide daily
support for children as they acquire the skills to create friendships and promote a strong
sense of health and well-being. In addition children are taught about areas such as road safety, internet safety and first aid. Young students in our Montessori environment enjoy a special sense of safety and belonging while being part of a small community within the larger school. This is especially the case when we have whole school assemblies and events.
Our curriculum is inspired and inspiring and is as diverse as the children that pass through
our school. Below is an outline of part of our curriculum to give an insight into what we cover.
Mathematics Curriculum (Early Years)
Maths in the Montessori classroom is designed to support children’s natural interest in maths and provide a strong foundation in numeracy through the use of specially designed materials. Through concrete mathematical experiences, the youngest children learn about dimension, size, number, shape and sequence. Then with the use of increasingly abstract materials, children make the passage from concrete experience to paper and pencil exercises, all the while relying on the foundation of understanding built through their direct experiences. Every maths concept is taught with a corresponding material.
At WMS, young children typically begin their exploration of maths concepts through the use of the sensorial materials, which are pre-academic in nature and give a sensory impression of quantity, dimension, shape, size and other physical qualities. Next come more abstract and formal mathematic concepts, such as one-to-one correspondence, number-symbol relationships and place value, which children first explore with the use of number rods, counters, beads, bars, squares and cubes.
Once the concepts of quantity and place value are established through the repeated activities with the maths materials, children begin work with numeric operations and will practice all four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) with the use of increasingly abstract materials.
Each child progresses at his or her own pace through the maths curriculum and learns through individual presentations from the teacher, presentations from older children and by observing more experienced children working with the maths materials.
Teachers gently encourage children not exhibiting a natural inclination toward maths to work with the materials. Children experiencing a Montessori education develop strong maths skills.
Maths Curriculum Outline
- Association of quantity and symbol for numbers 1-10
- Linear counting and number combinations to 10
- Geometric shapes, forms and nomenclature
- Fundamentals of the decimal system: understanding
- Advanced math including fractions; operations with fractions; abacus for static and dynamic operations; larger numbers; missing factors
Practical Life Curriculum
Practical life activities include early exercises that prepare the child to work effectively in the learning environment by refining movement, teaching sequences, introducing left to right processes, developing concentration, eye-hand co-ordination and self confidence.
In addition the exposure to these thoughtfully created activities provides a foundation in early learning attitudes and dispositions.
Most importantly, practical life exercises provide children with a sense of accomplishment as they engage in real, meaningful work with tangible results. The familiar home-like environment of the practical life area of the classroom allows children to gain independence and confidence as they carry out the activities, similar to those a child would participate in at home.Early examples of such exercises include walking around furniture, rolling and unrolling a mat, pushing in a chair, opening and closing a door and carrying a chair or table. These exercises enable the child to manoeuvre gracefully in the environment and develop spatial awareness and control.
Other exercises focus on care of the self and environment; hand- washing, dressing frames, polishing, vegetable preparation, sweeping, and other practical skills prepare the child for more advanced work and develop positive attitudes and dispositions that are useful to the child as his work grows more academic. Young children frequently repeat these activities and thus develop concentration and learn to enjoy completing tasks.
Another aspect of the practical life curriculum are lessons in grace and courtesy. Through modelling, children learn polite social behaviour such as how to serve food, how to greet a person, how to excuse oneself and how to make introductions.
Further lessons revolve around the language and process of problem solving. Children at Walthamstow Montessori learn to identify feelings and needs, state problems and propose solutions using nonviolent communication, predicting results, and implementing what they consider the best solution.
Some practical life lessons such as care of the self and care of the environment are given individually, while lessons in grace and courtesy and problem solving are best presented at circle time where the entire group can learn a lesson at the same time. Most children enjoy group lessons at circle time and use the modelled behaviour immediately.
The Sensorial Curriculum
Montessori believed that young children learn through direct manipulation of learning materials. The sensorial materials are designed to educate the senses. Largely pre-academic in nature, the sensorial curriculum provides early experiences for children in discrimination of size, dimension, texture, weight, sound, smell, colour, taste and temperature. Along with refining a child’s senses, the exercises introduce precise vocabulary and concepts of comparison.
Once a child has worked with an introductory material, there are opportunities for progressive exercises in sorting and classifying. The curriculum also introduces concepts related to maths and geometry, including plane shapes and geometric solids. Physical geography is an additional component of the sensorial curriculum.
Each child progresses at his or her own pace through the sensorial curriculum and learns through individual presentations from the teacher, presentations from older children and by observing more experienced children working with the materials. Many of the introductory materials appeal to the youngest children, and, along with practical life exercises, they spend a large portion of their day exploring the materials and exercises on the sensorial shelves.
Sensorial Curriculum Outline
- Shapes Geometry
- Regular plane shapes through decagon
- Irregular plane shapes
- Geometric solids
- Constructive triangles
- Binomial and trinomial cubes
- Table of Pythagoras
- Superimposed geometric figures
- Leaf forms
- Sound boxes
- Smelling boxes
- Tasting bottles
- Rough and smooth boards
- Thermic tablets
- Baric tablets
Stereognostic (muscular and tactile mixed)
- Mystery bags
- Puzzle maps
- Land and water forms
Children from the ages of three to six are particularly receptive to acquiring language and at WMS the environment is filled with learning materials and activities designed to support the natural development of language. In particular the materials and activities encourage the refinement of sensory discrimination and the acquisition of precise vocabulary, which together form the basis of personal and academic expression.
The sequence of the language curriculum first emphasizes the development of spoken language and the acquisition of vocabulary through stories and poems, naming objects and classroom materials, social conversations and lessons in both grace and courtesy and problem solving.
Simultaneously, the teacher presents work that provides early preparation for reading and writing with activities that develop fine motor control and spatial and sequential perceptions, including left to right activities that instill a sense of direction for written language. In addition, the teacher models correct spoken language and provides a consistent source of new and interesting information through her own speech and through rotating materials and activities in the classroom. Word games, rhymes and word study of initial and final sounds help to develop phonemic awareness.
Direct preparation for reading and writing begins as the child establishes sound-symbol correspondence and a sense of the shape of letters by moving their fingers on the sandpaper letters. Children will want to construct written language with letters, and, before the hand is ready to write, they will manipulate movable letters to synthesise short written words. This is the beginning of writing, which usually precedes the ability to read by some months. As the child gains confidence with forming words, he then begins to analyse the individual sounds and then recombine them and thus starts to read. Children develop control for handwriting through practicing numerous fine motor activities before finally writing with a pencil.
Each child progresses at his or her own pace through the language curriculum and learns through individual presentations from the teacher and by observing more experienced children using the language materials. Most children exhibit natural interest in forming words with letters by about age four to four and a half. Once the child has learned the beginning mechanics of writing and reading, a range of language activities exists in the classroom from journals, to phonetic readers, to labelling, to short books on many topics and children’s research materials, such as atlases and dictionaries. Children also practice reading sight words through games and activities.
Most children will, by the time they are in our Lower Prep class, be able to read and write short phonetic words with blends and digraphs, read short phonetic primers with some common sight words and enjoy a range of language activities. These include the use of language for practical purposes from solving problems to conversing socially; to listening to and enjoying stories, poems and books that are read aloud.
Language Curriculum Outline
Indirect Preparation for Reading and Writing:
- Practical life exercises that provide left to right movement and sequences
- Cylinder blocks and metal insets to prepare the hand for handwriting
- Geometry, botany and geography materials to develop sense of shape and direction
- Spoken language skills and vocabulary development
- Word games leading to phonemic awareness
- Sound-symbol correspondence
- Phonetic words
- Sight words
- Reading nomenclature from classroom studies
- Writing Mechanics
- Sound – symbol correspondence
- Forming letters without writing
- Alphabet – lower case
WMS parents are regularly invited to curriculum meetings with our class teachers. Please take the opportunity to come along when invitations are issued.
New or prospective WMS parents will learn about the breadth and depth of the curriculum during their first tour of our school. Miss Lorna holds regular parent surgeries where all aspects of your child’s learning can be covered. Please ask for further details when submitting your registration to the school.