Pre-School Education for Children

Small World aims to help build the foundations for a lifetime of learning. Our Montessori approach is built around the following ideals:

  • Each child is unique and that every effort should be made to help children develop to their fullest potential.
  • The early years from birth to six are vital and that children need every opportunity to strengthen positive attitudes towards themselves, others and learning.
  • That from a solid foundation they grow to be confident and competent learners for life.


A Brief introduction to Montessori

Born in 1870, Montessori devoted her life to the study and education of young children. She was the first woman to receive a medical degree in Italy when she graduated from the University of Rome medical school. She became interested in education through her work as a doctor, firstly treating children with special needs and then going on to establish schools for the disadvantaged in Rome, where she wanted to help children achieve their full potential. It soon became apparent that Dr Montessori had developed a highly effective method of teaching, which could be used with great success with each and every child. She travelled the world, helping to establish other schools, lecturing, and writing about her discoveries, until her death in 1952 at the age of 82.

A Montessori school is designed to take advantage of children’s sensitive years, when they are most able to absorb information from their environment. Today, in Montessori schools all over the world, her teachings still lead the way for those of us who believe in the overwhelming influence of the first six years of life. So much so that much of it is Included in the UK governments EYFS, that all nurseries use today.

The Montessori environment is indeed a child’s world, geared to the size, pace and interests of young children. It is prepared so that the children have easy access to the specially created materials arranged on low shelves around the classroom.

It is an environment of love, care and nurture that instils attitudes of independence and individuality. Children leave Montessori schools with a love for learning and an experience of making choices and having responsibilities. Once they have gained this, it will remain with them for life.


A more in Depth look at Montessori within a setting

Montessori saw that children learn best by doing, and that happy self-motivated learners, form positive images of themselves as confident, successful people. She created specially designed resources to foster independence and a love for learning from an early age. The Montessori approach is holistic and aims to develop the whole child. Fundamental to the approach is the belief that a child’s early years from birth to six are the period when they have the greatest capacity to learn.

The Prepared Environment

The layout of the classroom encourages exploration, communication, and the development of relationships on all levels. Everything reflects a dedication to quality, beauty and to the children’s abilities to do things for themselves. She realised that the child relies completely on the environment for the sensorial impressions through which he or she gains a sense of the world in which he or she lives. Montessori therefore paid a great deal of attention to the way in which her schoolrooms were laid out. She wanted the classroom to be a happy, friendly place where children felt at home, where they knew where everything was and where they didn’t always have to rely on adults to help them.

Montessori was the first educator to produce child-sized tables and chairs and to think about the fact that children need to have cupboards and shelves at their own height. She wanted the children to feel that the schoolroom belonged to them rather than the teachers. She knew that order is very important to children and she therefore ensured that everything had its place and that all materials were kept as neatly as possible. She created materials that she saw the children were drawn to, ensuring that the materials provided, met the interests of the children. It was the children who led her development of the materials and the children who showed her how the environment should be prepared.

Small World Kindergarten

The sensorial materials – She carefully took each of the senses and thought how best she could help the children to clarify and expand their existing experiences. By isolating specific qualities in the materials and by grading each set in ever-refined series, for each of their senses. Many of the exercises in this area are also indirect preparations for later mathematics and language work as they enable the child to order, classify, seriate and describe sensory impressions in relation to length, width, temperature, mass and colour.

Life skills – Montessori saw that very young children are frequently frustrated in their attempts to do things for themselves and that what they need is to have specific exercises, as closely linked to real life as possible, that allow them to master the tasks that they see going on around them in everyday life. She also saw that, unlike the adults in their lives, the children are not interested in achieving end results as quickly as possible, but are far more interested in the learning processes. As a result, they will happily repeat exercises repeatedly until they feel satisfied. Practical life activities are therefore an important part of the Montessori environment. In the practical life area, you will see things such as clothes frames, to help children learn to do up and undo items, lots of spooning and pouring exercises, stirring, whisking, cutting, and threading activities they see going on around them at home. Practical life also includes helping children do other important tasks such as opening and closing doors, caring for books, carrying trays and chairs, using knives and forks, washing and drying hands, and blowing noses. Today more than ever, this is essential preparation for school when children are expected to be able to do all of this, as early as four.

Mathematics – Montessori believed that children have mathematical minds and she revolutionised the way in which mathematics is taught. She developed a wonderful set of materials, many of which have now been copied by educators throughout the world. The mathematical concept is presented firstly in a very concrete form followed by the abstract written version. The materials for mathematics introduce the concept of quantity and the symbols 1 through to 10. These operations provide a deep understanding of how numbers function.

Language – Montessori was a great believer in indirect preparation. By this, we mean that she found clever ways in which children can learn without even realising that they are. For example, her metal insets that the children use for drawing, help form the fine motor skills for writing. Many of the practical life and sensorial exercises were designed this way. When the child is ready, we begin to teach the phonetic sounds of the letters; then we move on to word building and recognition, and then book reading. She found that writing comes as part of the child’s natural desire to express his or her new knowledge and nearly always precedes reading.

Cultural studies – Montessori found ways to help children understand the world beyond their own environments, developing a wide range of beautiful materials that allowed the children to gain an appreciation of biology, geography, simple science and history. Each of these areas allows the children to explore concepts such as metamorphosis, life cycles, land formations, the planets and time lines.

Art and creativity – Montessori felt that it is very important for children to be allowed to express themselves freely. She was aware, however, that they are very often frustrated by the fine motor skills needed for activities such as cutting and gluing. She therefore developed many indirect activities to help children develop the necessary abilities. 

Outdoors – Being outdoors is very important. Children develop their gross motor skills as they climb, jump, and swing, and also social skills as they take turns on equipment and play games such as hide and seek. She believed strongly that children should be in touch with the substance of their world, encouraging work with clay, gardening, and growing activities, and even building little houses. Contrary to the belief that a sandpit has no place in a Montessori nursery, it has been suggested that Maria Montessori invented the idea.

Social skills – Children aren’t born with an innate knowledge of why we shake hands, or kiss, or rub noses (depending on our culture) and in the Montessori classroom they will learn appropriate greetings. As they become aware of other cultures they are encouraged to celebrate differences and value them equally. During circle time children are shown how to move quietly and carefully around the classroom, push in chairs, wait patiently before politely gaining someone’s attention and are reminded how important it is to allow others to work undisturbed and to notice if somebody needs help. These ground rules in the classroom give every child the best start for school.

Teachers – Montessori teachers are frequently referred to as directresses because it is a better summing up of what we do. We direct the child towards learning opportunities. Staff should be calm and unhurried, moving around the room discreetly and quietly. They should be responsive to the needs of individual children who should not have to wait until they become bored or upset before they get attention, but vigilant in a low-key way so the children do not feel policed.

What is the role of a Montessori teacher? Montessori teachers’ responsibilities: Observing, Guiding, supervising, and assessing children while they learn in the classroom environment. Developing lesson plans, independent learning exercises, curriculum and methods that cater to the needs of the individual child.

A loving community – Above all, a Montessori environment is one where adults and children care for one other and aren’t afraid to show it. It is somewhere where you can learn as much as possible about all the things that interest you without being scared about the things that don’t. It is where you can be yourself and learn to love learning.

The Montessori classroom is a home away from home, a happy place full of friends where you can be yourself. It is a place full of interesting things to do, but also a place where you can take time out and just be quiet if you want to. It is somewhere where you can grow up knowing that you belong and that you are special.


The Early Years Foundation Stage Framework

The EYFS Framework explains how and what your child will be learning to support their healthy development.

Click here to download the eyLog user guide for parents. (eyLog for Parents – v5.0.PDF-2.4MB)

Your child will be learning skills, acquiring new knowledge and demonstrating their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development.

Children should mostly develop the 3 prime areas first. These are:

Communication and language; Listening & attention;
Understanding;  Speaking
Physical development; and Moving & handling;  Health & self care
Personal, social and emotional development. Self confidence & self awareness;
Managing feelings & behaviour;
Making relationships & understanding others

These prime areas are those most essential for your child’s healthy development and future learning.

As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas. These are:

Literacy; Reading & writing
Mathematics; Numbers, space, shape & measure
Understanding the world; and People & communities;
The world;  Technology
Expressive arts and design. Exploring & using media & materials;
Being imaginative