The Montessori nursery is often referred as the Children’s House or Casa dei Bambini (sometimes just Casa), taking the name from the first nursery established by Montessori in Rome in 1907.
The nursery continues to help the child in supporting his/her sensitive periods and unique interests whilst ensuring, through daily observations, that the development of the whole child is being nurtured. Children are encouraged to model the positive behaviour of the adults and their peers. The classrooms are organised into areas of learning and should include arts and crafts area as well as a book area and opportunities for role play. The outside is treated as another classroom with the same attention given to planning, preparation and organisation of the learning environment. The classrooms should be a hive of activity and the motto here is Hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence – the child is an active learner
Children’s learning is focused on:
- Opportunities to develop autonomy as they acquire new skills such as cutting, weaving and gardening
- Refinement of their sensory experiences as they begin to organise and classify their knowledge and understanding of the immediate environment
- Outdoor activities which are planned and organised to complement learning inside the classroom and encourage respect for the environment as well as for peers and adults
- Introduction of letter sounds, counting, names of shapes, animals and plants – when the child shows interest
- Play, exploration and investigation are at the heart of learning at this age, all of which support the child’s creative thinking
What to look for:
- Children who are calm and engaged in their activities as they work on their own or with friends
- The classrooms are organised in areas of learning where all activities are complete and ready for use
- Children choosing activities, sometimes repeating them and always returning them to their place on the open shelves, making sure that the area where they have worked or played is left tidy
- Children being respectful and polite to each other, managing their own snack, personal hygiene and going outside
- The whole morning and/or afternoon sessions offer a continuum of activities spontaneously chosen by the children, with small group work and outdoor learning available and offered as free choice for the children.
- The outside (where possible), book and art areas are in constant use
- Children showing emerging interest in learning letter sounds, counting and writing