The programme at Koru Montessori is closely tied to the Montessori method of education and the Early Childhood Curriculum Te Whaariki ~ He Whariki Matauranga mo nga Mokopuna o Aotearoa. The environment, both indoors and out, is attractive, calm and inviting. The activities engage the children and provide the keys to many different aspects of learning. Children have the opportunity to work independently, in small or large groups, on activities that follow their interests.
Children’s cultural heritage is acknowledged and at Koru Montessori, we regard cultural diversity as a cause for celebration. Natural science, physical health and wellbeing, care for the environment and sustainability are important elements of children’s experience including care of our animals and the garden.
Children are welcome to attend Koru Montessori from around the age of 2 years and depart for further learning between 5 to 6 years of age. As children grow older and more capable, they enjoy taking on greater responsibility for their own learning and provide positive role models for their younger classmates. The younger children observe and look up to the older ones and as result are looking forward to being able to do the same activities at a later stage. The older children benefit by reinforcing their knowledge gained through showing their younger classmates how they have ‘mastered’ a skill. This builds confidence and self esteem at an essential time when they are preparing to move on to their next stage of learning at Primary school.
The Montessori classroom is designed to meet the size, pace and interests of all the children. The materials are arranged on low shelves within easy reach of even the youngest children. The Montessori programme includes activity areas:
By age two to three, the child has already laid down the basic foundations of his or her personality and is now ready to experience an ever-widening circle of adults and other children. Social competence and emotional wellbeing are critical to the young child's brain development, future school success, and emerging cognitive abilities. Our teachers at Koru Montessori create an environment that actively supports the social and emotional development of each child. As a teacher responds respectfully to the child's needs and offers them meaningful activity that builds the child's self-esteem, the child develops a sense of trust in the teacher and a sense of belonging to the classroom community. Children are free to move, make choices, explore and interact with others. Where there is freedom to explore and work together, there is also a high level of social interaction. They sit together, work together, solve problems together, children learn to encourage and develop a sense of compassion and empathy for others. They become more socially aware, and work and play in larger groups. This social interaction is supported throughout the environment and is encouraged with the nature our multi-age classroom setting.
These activities help the child to develop independence, confidence, coordination and concentration. They satisfy the child’s need for meaningful activity with familiar tools they might find in their home. These activities can include food preparation, using kitchen tools such as a spoon, tongs, chopsticks, jugs to transfer water or everyday ingredients. For the young child there is something special about the tasks that an adult considers ordinary, for example washing dishes, polishing a silver plate or shoes, sweeping the floor. They are exciting for the child because they allow them to imitate the adult.
'Sensorial' comes from the word 'senses'. A young child experiences the world around them through the constant use of all their senses. The sensorial activities sharpen the child’s observation skills by helping them to become aware of details such as colour, weight, shape, texture, size, sound and smell. Dr Montessori believed that this process of learning to discriminate and categorize is the beginning of conscious knowledge and prepares the child for further exploration and learning.
The Montessori language materials are designed to offer the child the opportunity to learn the shapes and phonetic sounds of each letter, and when ready, gain the ability to blends sounds together to create, read and write words with meaning.
The Montessori mathematics materials give the child concrete, hands on activities that help them to learn numbers and quantities at an age when they enjoy manipulating equipment. Dr Montessori demonstrated that if a child has access to mathematical equipment in their early years, they can easily and joyfully learn skills of arithmetic, such as counting, sequencing, performing simple numeric operations and recognising the decimal system. For example the child not only sees the symbols for 1, 10, 100, 1000 they can hold each of the corresponding quantities in their hands.
At Koru Montessori we offer many opportunities for children to expand their knowledge of the World around them. Large wooden puzzle maps of the world and its continents, animals, people and flags of the world are associated with each continent.
Te Reo Maori and Tikanga are incorporated into all aspects of our daily life at Koru and the children enjoy learning about what it is to be a New Zealander and our country’s cultural heritage.
Beautiful wooden puzzles and sets of nature cards show the parts of plants and animals. Through working with these activities the children become observant of the world around them and gain an understanding and vocabulary to describe their environment at an age when their natural curiosity leads them to discover rather than by being told.
Koru also takes these materials into the outdoor environment, where the children help to care for the animals (cat, hens), the gardens and the environment. Koru Montessori uses environmentally sustainable practices including organic gardening sprays and cleaning products, recycling, composting and a worm farm.
Group singing, dancing, creative arts, crafts, poetry and games are all incorporated into the programme.