We follow the Montessori pedagogy in the context of the National New Zealand curriculum.
The Montessori curriculum spans a three-year cycle to enable every child to work at their own pace. We monitor what is expected of a child in an ordinary school to make sure the children’s work meets expected standards.
We tend to introduce children to some concepts far earlier than in other classes because of the specialised equipment used. The aim is to present every concept in as concrete a way possible and gradually lead the child to full abstraction. Montessori supports the belief that children are not fully able to abstract before their final year in primary school.
Our class must also deliver the national New Zealand curriculum because we are part of a state school.
The Montessori class is only available to children who have had a good grounding in Montessori methods through attending sufficient sessions and terms at a Montessori pre-school; at least two years or more. Children are ready for the Second Plane of Development (Primary) around the age of six. They come across to us in the term they fall six.
We welcome older children transferring in from Montessori primaries out of town or from overseas Montessori schools. We intend to provide places for brothers and sisters of pupils currently enrolled or attending our class. The sibling should nevertheless have the required two years minimum Montessori pre-school experience.
The school reserves the right to limit the number of children with diagnosed special needs to ensure we can meet their requirements as well as the needs of our existing children. The school will maintain a workable Montessori class in the interests of all children attending.
We will not accept a child who has little or no Montessori experience. Montessori pre-school prepares the children for the primary class in many ways. For example, children learn to respect the equipment and become used to working independently and purposefully. Montessori pre-school also helps children learn to manage themselves and their environment. Primary builds on these skills but it cannot teach them. This is why it is hard to accept a Montessori novice into a primary class.
Further eligibility and enrolment information is provided in a separate Enrolment Pack.
Montessori children tend to be very socially comfortable. Because they have been encouraged to problem-solve and think independently they are generally happy, confident and resourceful. Most children leave the Montessori environment with a very strong sense of self-confidence in their abilities. Consequently, although there is always a period of adjustment to change, they usually cope well in any environment they move to.
In fact most schools are often delighted to hear that your child has been in a Montessori school.
Research shows us that, far from being old-fashioned and obsolete, Montessori’s ideas are now being recognised by educationalists, cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists worldwide. Her emphasis on holistic learning with the importance of structure, intrinsic motivation, sociality and emotional intelligence were all ideas ahead of their time. She felt that it was education that lay at the root of social dysfunction and that it was only by celebrating children as the hope of mankind, that we would ever be able to change the nature of society. She fought for a peaceful world that celebrated the fundamental unity underlying diversity and her words remain as applicable today as they were then.
Montessori classes are separated into three-year cycles so that the child is placed with others in a classroom of peers that are in the same developmental stage as they are.
The children benefit from this arrangement in many ways:
- Younger children learn from older children through observation.
- Older children can present work to younger children – this benefits the younger child and the older child’s sense of self esteem and competence is enhanced.
- The daily interaction between the older and younger children gives them the advantage of observing conflict resolution and other social skills at their level of understanding and stage of development. Older children learn tolerance and patience with the younger children and begin to see themselves as role models. The younger children in turn look up to older children and turn to them for guidance and help.
- Because we encourage children to work at their own pace, they are not pressured to achieve what others in their age group are achieving. This not only benefits the child who needs more time to consolidate information and skills, but gives the child who is ready to move onto more advanced work the opportunity to do so.
- A sense of community is enhanced, where everyone plays a role in the smooth running of the class.
- The behaviours that frustrate us as parents (like children refusing to put things away), often don’t present themselves in the classroom where the peer group quickly step in and correct the issue. This is done in such a way that the child doesn’t feel like she/he is being reprimanded, and easily complies.
No, we do not accept five year olds. The final year at a Montessori pre-school is a very important year in the life of a five-year old child. This is the period where they consolidate a lot of their learning and gain mastery through teaching others. They take on the mantle of leader which requires them to step up and find “the leader in me”. They will have a position of responsibility at their preschools, nurture younger children and grow their own self-esteem and inner confidence. These are all important character traits to strengthen as they transition to primary school. Academically there are plenty of materials in a well-run preschool to challenge the five year old as many of these materials are used at primary level with the focus altered for the respective age group.
Our vision statement says, “The spirit of our parent community honours trusting and equitable relationships through honest and considerate communication.” We hope, as parents, that the behaviour and interactions we model, leave an affirming, lasting impression with our children.
Parents and caregivers need to show understanding of the Montessori philosophy of teaching and fully support its methods. They need to agree to support the West Auckland Montessori Trust, the Montessori teachers and the Trust’s relationship with the Huapai District School’s Board of Trustees, management and community. Parents and caregivers need to be willing participants and fully support all initiatives the Trust engages in including fundraising ventures, working bees, parent education evenings, equipment making and social events. We are very happy for parents to indicate their own particular skills and preference for areas they would like to assist with.
Parents and caregivers are expected to communicate with the Trust and the teachers in an open and reasonable manner.
The West Auckland Montessori Trust is a charitable organisation set up to provide a Montessori education for those that want it. The Trust has four to six volunteer Trustees who facilitate the provision of the Montessori class at Huapai District School. The Board of Trustees at Huapai District School is the employer of the teachers and ultimately responsible for the learning outcomes of Montessori students.
The Trust works with the Board of Trustees to ensure the classroom has resources and materials to function, a sufficient number of students to warrant use of the school’s space, sufficient donations to keep the classroom running and enough support from its parent community to secure its future. The Trust also maintains active working relationships with tertiary providers of Montessori education (AUT), Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand (MANZ) and the Ministry of Education.
Our class does not attract sufficient Ministry of Education funding to cover all the additional expense of running a Montessori program in a State school environment. We also need to build capability if Montessori is to thrive in New Zealand. We couldn’t exist if we didn’t raise funds. Our parents enable this by paying fees, making voluntary donations and helping us with fundraising activities.
Through this activity the West Auckland Montessori Trust funds: teacher salaries, Montessori materials, facilities, training, teacher scholarships as well as the promotion and understanding of Montessori.
Our class has integrated well with the rest of Huapai District School. Our classroom is known as Room 17 rather than the Montessori class. Room 17 students have access to the resources and activities of the wider school and participate in the social, sporting and cultural events on offer. The teachers attend all meetings and professional development opportunities with their colleagues and communication between all parties works well. On a number of occasions the Principal has stated that Room 17’s teachers are an asset to the school and bring a fresh perspective to learning. Equally Room 17 teachers appreciate and grow from the different perspectives of the wider school. The children have an opportunity to mix with other students in the playground and on the sporting field. Friendships beyond Room 17 are formed through buddy programmes, adopting students from different classes for a day, house competitions (there are four houses and your child will be placed in one upon joining Huapai District School), school trips and camps, cultural shows, music, singing, art and drama electives. Room 17 children wear uniform like everyone else.
A Trustee of the West Auckland Montessori Trust sits on the Huapai District School Board of Trustees as a co-opted representative and keeps the wider community informed of matters relating to our teachers, students and classroom.
No, unless the teachers feel there is a need that requires additional focus at home. Younger students receive a reader each night as they progress towards fluency in reading. The children accomplish many things during their three-hour work cycle during the day and we try not to encroach upon family time after school. Room 17 teachers know from frequent observations of the students where their strengths and weaknesses lie and address these through individual or group lessons in class. They bring items of interest to your attention where appropriate through meetings and learning conferences with you and your child.
Huapai District School offers music, art, drama, foreign language instruction, choir, Kapahaka to all of its students. All of these subjects are available to the children of Room 17 and many are incorporated into a child’s school day. Parents are kept informed of activities and timetables through a fortnightly newsletter via email from the teachers.
If you have ever moved house, or changed jobs, you will know first-hand that it takes time to adjust to a new environment & new routines. Building familiarity with where things go, what time people meet & how the day is divided up, takes a great effort on behalf of the individual.
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