Region 4  Contact

Chair: Joahnne Cousins
Deputy: Sarah  Drummond
Counties: Essex, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire

Eastern England Meetings

It is with great pleasure that we announce the Eastern Region autumn term meeting – Characteristics of Effective Learning and Montessori Practice, with Barbara Isaacs.

Date: Saturday 3 November 2018
Venue: St Thomas More Catholic Primary School, South Road, Saffron Walden, CB11 3DW
Time: 10am – 3.30pm
Cost: £25 per person (for MSA members), or £35 per person (non-members)

We invite you to arrive 9.30 am for coffee and registration and will commence at 10am.

Within the grounds of the school is the Montessori Nursery belonging to Michelle Wisbey, who has kindly agreed to allow us to visit during our lunch break. 

We are extremely fortunate to have Barbara Isaacs for the day; Barbara is the Global Ambassador for Montessori, she brings an incredible wealth of experience and has probably taught/lectured/discussed every aspect of child development you could possibly imagine. With this in mind, she has kindly offered to speak about how we consider the characteristics of effective learning. This workshop will consider the three key strands of Characteristics of Effective Learning, as observed in Montessori practice. 

It will explore not only the aspects of Engagement and Involvement in daily life of children attending Montessori settings, it will also investigate how problem solving, creative thinking and creativity are promoted and documented in Montessori settings.

This aspect of the EYFS is becoming the key focus when examining the quality of early years provision and it is important that Montessori practitioners are able to articulate how creative thinking and creativity are encouraged in their settings. Be prepared to share your observations of children’s creative thinking and participate in discussion about its relevance in the development of the whole child.

We would ask all delegates to confirm their attendance by emailing us here. Please do let us know:
     –  Name of staff attending with job title
     –  Setting Address
     –  Any dietary requirements

The deadline for booking is Friday 26th October – please do confirm your place as soon as possible. At this time we are sadly unable to accept BACs payments, so please make arrangements to pay on the day (cheque would be easier). Catering arrangements will be confirmed one week before the event, therefore, please be aware that should you cancel your place after the 26th October or not arrive on the day for any reason, charges will still apply.

Outdoor Learning with Ella Westhaus
at Westwood Montessori
14 October 2017 

On Saturday 14th October, myself and my colleagues attended a training day entitled ‘Outside Classroom’. The training was held at Westwood Montessori, near Saffron Walden. This venue proved to be extremely suitable for the content of the day, owing to the setting’s extensive outdoor space and Forest School sessions. 

The day begun with the speaker, Ella Westerhaus, asking us to each write down what we would like to take away from the training. This ensured that we all felt satisfied at the end of the day and that all our questions were answered. We also spoke about Maria Montessori’s opinions on the outside classroom, to help remind us all of its importance.

Ella set us a variety of activities to carry out in small groups throughout the day. My personal favourite involved finding natural materials to stick onto a piece of paper to make sandpaper numbers! We also created sculptures and told stories using a variety of things in the garden. These activities really opened my eyes to the endless possibilities the outdoors presents.

We finished the day by taking a short walk along to the woods where Westwood holds its Forest School sessions. The children have chosen how they wanted to utilise the area, so there was a mark making area, a tree swing and, of course, a fire circle. This has inspired my nursery to create more sections in our garden, to encourage different types of play and learning in each area.

Myself and my colleagues feel that we greatly benefitted from the training day and have already started putting our new ideas into practice. We have further developed our mud kitchen, offering the children a wider variety of tools and natural materials to utilise. We have also found ways to link the children’s learning inside the classroom to the outdoors, i.e. by using sticks to grade as you would with the red rods. Furthermore, we have begun offering the children the choice to have snacks and lunch outside more regularly. Having snacks in our Forest School circle has proved very popular!

Ella Westerhaus was a fabulous choice as a trainer and her wealth of knowledge about the outside classroom was clear to see. Her decision to break the day up with activities proved beneficial especially as we, as teachers, are not use to sitting still for so long! I also really enjoyed exploring Westwood, which truly is a very impressive nursery and preschool. Overall, the training was thoroughly enjoyable and I have since found that my perspective of the outdoor area at my nursery has completely changed for the better.

Molly Crook
Jelly Beans Montessori