The program at Montessori House Belgium, both in philosophy and pedagogy, is based on the work of Dr. Maria Montessori. The school respects children as self-directed individuals and fosters their growth toward independence and social responsibility, in a joyful, diverse and family-oriented environment.
Montessori House is bilingual, an English and French school. The child/teacher ratio is approximately 8:1. The classrooms have open work areas with varied materials available on accessible shelves. It is not over-crowded or distracting. Attention is paid to the development of aesthetic awareness. The children are given choices and freedom within boundaries, where they choose age-appropriate activities, under the guidance of a trained Montessori teacher. This enables them to progress academically at their own pace.
The school is committed to diversity. We encourage children to be considerate of others and live responsibly.
The Montessori materials cover developmental activities designed to meet the requirements of children in five curriculum areas:
- Practical life
- Cultural Studies
Practical Life activities are introduced in CASA 1 and continue in CASA 2. These are activities that maintain a neat and tidy environment and allow the children to use their imagination as they work with real objects. They develop independence, fine and gross motor skills, social skills and attain self-confidence, and self-discipline.
At the Elementary level, advanced Practical Life activities expand a student’s concentration and attention to detail and further improve fine motor skills.
The Montessori Sensorial material in CASA 1 and 2 covers a range of exercises to sort, match and compare objects by shape, size, touch, taste and sound. These early sensorial impressions increase the children’s powers of observation and deduction, broaden their vocabulary and contribute to their later understanding of formal educational concepts. The materials are self-correcting, therefore children realize that errors are essential to the process of learning.
The Sensorial materials ensure a solid foundation for mathematics, geometry, geography, botany, art and music and prepares for the Elementary level.
Mathematics is about understanding relationships in the environment and the ability to express them in abstract terms. In the CASA classes, Montessori materials such as the number rods, spindle boxes and golden beads provide step-by-step learning. The children learn to count, associate quantity and numerals, and gain a sensorial impression of the decimal system.
Mathematics at the Elementary level consists of many details that form a whole. All early exercises are worked at the sensorial level to ensure that the child relates the quantity to the symbol (example: multiplication and division boards).
The Montessori Mathematics programme in our school covers:
- Numbers to Ten: The foundation of mathematics is numbers to ten. The exercises in this section must be understood by the child before continuing with additional materials. The child learns the names of the numbers and the fact that each number represents a certain quantity and to associate the language, written symbol and quantity of each number from 0 to 9.
- The Decimal System: The Decimal System introduces the child to the bead materials and the associated cards for each category. The child learns that zero can give a greater value to a number, the language of the larger numbers and how to change (10 units change for 1 ten). This gives a sensorial impression of the four operations.
- The Teens and Tens: Teens and Tens works parallel to the beads and cards. The child learns to associate quantities, names and symbols of the teens and tens and linear and skip counting with the square and cube chains from the bead cabinet.
- The Exploration and Memorization of Tables: At the Elementary level, the child focuses on the exploration and memorization of the four operations. The materials in this area provide the opportunity to explore essential number combinations for each mathematical operation and continue to move towards abstraction. Some material used are: large /small bead frames, word problems, geometry, hierarchy of numbers or the checker board for place values.
- Fractions: The Montessori Fraction material is a concrete experience for the child and leads to abstraction. The child discover the rules of each fraction operation and that all numbers are not whole. It further aids in understanding of division.
At Montessori House Belgium, language materials are based on a carefully structured phonic approach to writing and reading. At first the children learn sensorially by tracing sandpaper letters with their fingers while being told the sounds. Soon, they are writing simple words with the move-able alphabet, matching words with objects and reading their first pink three letter words and then phonic reading books. The school follows the Ginn Reading Scheme. Books are taken home daily to read with parents. Children learn to value reading for pleasure.
In the Elementary class the development of language progresses through the study of grammar, creative writing, comprehension exercises, dictations and cursive writing.
Culture Studies bring an awareness that everything in the universe is connected and inter-dependant. This forms a ‘whole’ that works in harmony; we are part of this whole and our contribution towards its well- being is important.
Children use globes, puzzle maps and flags to build their understanding of other countries and cultures. Pictures and name cards are used to match, classify and name the elements and species of the natural world.
Classroom plant-growing and caring for pets help to form a bridge between the child’s knowledge of the immediate environment and the world.
The Elementary level introduces history through the Five Great Lessons; the story of the universe, life coming to earth, the coming of humans, the story of writing (language) and the story of numbers (mathematics).