Montessori International Published by the Montessori St Nicholas Charity Issue 119 Summer 2016 Learning from nature

Montessori Issue 119 Summer 2016 International · Montessori in Islington, Bix Montessori in Henley on Thames, Lindfield Montessori Nursery in Haywards Heath, The Montessori People

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Page 1: Montessori Issue 119 Summer 2016 International · Montessori in Islington, Bix Montessori in Henley on Thames, Lindfield Montessori Nursery in Haywards Heath, The Montessori People


Published by the Montessori St Nicholas Charity

Issue 119 Summer 2016



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MI119 Summer 2016:Layout 1 04/08/2016 12:54 Page 2

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Albeit in a rather hesitant way, summer is nonetheless upon us, and we

can all get more actively engaged with our gardens, parks and

countryside. And as ever, there will be things to learn from nature as

part of our enjoyment of the outdoors.

In this issue of the magazine the theme articles are by Wilma Grier, Jo Wild,

Claire Warden and Gini Trower. Wilma writes about embedding the natural world

in the learning environment while Jo – of the Soil Association’s Food for Life project

– shares some thoughts on food and sustainable learning. Claire is an educational

consultant focusing on children’s connections to the natural world, writing here on

‘nature pedagogy’, and Gini tells us about her nature workshops for children and


Other features include Michele Dows-Miller’s report on the fifth MEAB School

Leaders Conference, a practitioner’s reflection on teaching practice in Rwanda from

Janice Yon, Elizabeth Dyke writing about her placement in India, and Julie

Compton on the promotion of universal human values.

In addition to all this I’m very pleased to be able to welcome back Amanda

Engelbach, my predecessor as editor, who will be contributing to the Bright Ideas

and Reviews sections of the magazine in the future. I’m sure you will see right away

how this has enriched the range of suggestions for materials and activities, but as

ever we would like to hear from you as well. So if one of your own activities or

creations proved particularly popular please let us know – you can contact Amanda

at [email protected].

* * *

Over the next year we will be introducing, in stages, a number of

changes to Montessori International. So keep an eye out and let us

know what you think. But for now I hope you enjoy this issue as you

start to prepare for the next academic year.

Philip Davies, Editor


Philip Davies

Editorial enquiries

Tel: +44 207 493 8300

e-mail: [email protected]

Editorial Address

18 Balderton Street,

London W1K 6TG

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Sameena Wali

e-mail: [email protected]

Marketing Address

18 Balderton Street, London W1K 6TG

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Sameena Wali on +44 207 493 8300

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The views expressed in Montessori

International are not necessarily those of

the publisher and editorial team, nor are

advertisements endorsed by them.

Montessori International is designed and

produced by Stuart O’Neil, Design for Print,

Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire 01442 769422

Printed by Buxton Press, Buxton, Derbyshire

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ISSN 1354-1498


Published by the Montessori St Nicholas Charity, London

MontessoriInternational Issue 119 Summer 2016

Welcomefrom the editor

Montessori International Summer 2016 1

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2 Montessori International Summer 2016

Contents Issue 119 Summer 2016

Feature articles

16 Montessori outdoors? – Yes!Wilma Grier writes about how to embrace the challengeof embedding the natural world in the learningenvironment.

19 From field to fork: helping children connect food with the world around themJo Wild of the Soil Association on helping childrenunderstand how their food is connected to the wider world.

22 A Journey into Nature: international training in nature pedagogyClaire Warden introduces nature pedagogy, anoverarching learning path for children that embracesnature.

24 Everybody can learn from natureGini Trower describes what happens in her differentnature workshops for children and teachers.

28 Grandad Gibbons, or A Portrait of the Editor as a Young ChildA short reflection about my grandfather and learningabout nature with a family member.

39 Teaching practice in RwandaJanice Yon gives a heartfelt account of the nerve-wracking at first but ultimately rewarding experience ofher teaching practice.

41 Fundamental British values or universal human values?Julie Compton argues for essential values being taught asfor all people everywhere.

48 Put the pencil down and go outside – the importance of nature in the early yearsSpecial needs article by Kathryn Solly.

52 My Montessori journey in IndiaInspired by Maria Montessori’s time in India and her owndesire to travel that country, Elisabeth Dyke tells us aboutsome of her experiences.

54 Top ten tips for choosing childcare for children with special needsSome pointers from Elyssa Campbell-Barr to finding theright childcare for children with additional needs.

Cover pictureLucas of St Andrew’s Montessori taking part in the Art Squaredproject (see page 12). Photo: Floriane Moore

Regular departments3 News

30 Bright ideas

34 Reviews

37 Ask the Expert Q&A

45 Education & Special Needs & Disability Update

47 Research Watch

61 MEAB Accredited Schools

64 MSA Membership Registration

65 MSA Advisory Council

66 Progression Route

Classified advertising55 Teaching opportunities



48 52

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Montessori work over a period of time and infields which extend beyond their paidemployment.

If you would like to nominate someone forthis award or for Montessori Practitionerof the Year, please send your nominationto Kristine Largo, MSA, 18 BaldertonStreet, London W1K 6TG, or by email:[email protected] by 10thJanuary 2017. Applications should includecontact details for both the person makingthe nomination and the person they arenominating.


3Montessori International Summer 2016

fulfils the following criteria:

1. The quality of their work as evidenced byother practitioners both within their ownsetting and from outside.

2. The range of their work: impact onchildren’s learning and lives.

3. The range of their work: impact on families’lives.

4. The range of their work: impact on otherpractitioners in their setting.

5. The range of their work: impact on otherpractitioners outside their setting.Candidates should have been active in

Nominations are invited for theMontessorian of the Year Award 2017.This award will be presented at thenext MSA National Conference at theInstitute of Education, London.

The purpose of the award is to celebrate thework of a practitioner and their contributionto the lives of children and adults in theMontessori world and to promotingMontessori actively and effectively in wayswhich have not been publicly celebratedalready.

Applications should show how the nominee

Who should be Montessorian of the Year 2017...

...and Montessori Practitioner of the Year?The purpose of the awardis to celebrate the work ofsomeone who currentlyworks in a Montessorisetting and who hasmade a significantcontribution to the qualityand work of that setting.

Applications shouldshow how the nomineefulfils the following criteria:

1. The quality of their work withchildren and parents within theirsetting

2. The range of their work with children3. The range of their work with parents4. The impact of their work on the

quality of their setting5. The impact of their work on their

fellow staff in the setting

Candidates should have beenworking in Montessori settings (UKMSA member school or MEABaccredited International School) for atleast three years.

Please note: members of the MSAAdvisory Council and employees of theMontessori St Nicholas Charity orMontessori Centre International are noteligible for any of these awards.

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

Linda Madden Susie Norman Jane and Graham Lord Carol Powell Michelle Wisbey

2014 2015 2016

Angela Euesden Emily ten Kate L-r: Anita Looby, Rebecca Teclemariam–Mesbah and Katarzyna Szewenko

Outstanding OfstedCongratulations to Myrtle Tree Montessori Childminding in Wivenhoe, Oaklea Montessori atthe Windmill Childrens Centre in Harwich, The Pavilion Montessori School in Teddington, TheLittle House in Cheshire, Hayley's Little Explorers (Childminder) in Burwell, RosewoodMontessori Nursery School in Cuckoo Hill Road, Pinner, Leeds Montessori School and DayNursery in Leeds, Willow Park Montessori in Ipswich, Barnes Montessori in London, St AndrewsMontessori in Islington, Bix Montessori in Henley on Thames, Lindfield Montessori Nursery inHaywards Heath, The Montessori People at Highflyers Children's Centre in Thornaby, RainbowMontessori Nursery in Winscombe, Downham Preparatory School and Montessori Nursery inKing’s Lynn, Sitara Toto Montessori in Borehamwood, Le Ballon Rouge Montessori Day Nurseryin Southend-on-Sea, Prima Montessori Day Nursery in Gillingham, Tiggywinkles MontessoriNursery in Newport, Little Acorns Montessori Nursery in Bridgnorth, Ladybird MontessoriNursery Ltd, Bosham, Chichester, Rose House Montessori Pre-school Forest Hill, London, KleinKinder Montessori in Bath, and the Village Montessori in Kingswood Place London, which haveall been awarded Outstanding in their latest Ofsted inspections.

Don’t forget to let us know when you receive Outstanding in your Ofsted inspection so we canmention your school in the next issue of Montessori International.

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Montessori International Summer 2016

After a fairly quiet period following theelection last year, the DfE has begun toproduce more proposals and changes whichwill affect us all. The latest update to‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’(www.gov.uk/government/publications) waspublished in May and contains both newrequirements and a useful overview of thecurrent guidance. It comes into effect inSeptember and although it applies to schoolsand colleges, the principles are highly likelyto apply in future to settings registered withOfsted.

DfE also published a consultation in Mayon the proposed 30 hours ‘free’ placefunding. Six areas have been identified aspilots from September before the proposednational roll-out in September 2017. In onelocal authority, York, many PVI providers werereluctant to join the scheme as the fundingdid not meet the costs of providing theplaces. This seems to be the case in otherareas where local authorities have begun tosound out providers. As a result, the hourlyrate has been increased to £4 for eligible 3and 4 year olds. However anomalies remain,notably in variations between localauthorities. The rate in Swindon will be £4.41an hour. In Hertfordshire it will be £4.88 forthe additional hours. Northumberland willpay £4.33 plus extra funding for deprivation.In Newham the rate is unchanged butremains the highest at £5.17 an hour.

MSA responded to the consultation makingthree basic points: the funding does not meetcosts; many settings, especially in rentedaccommodation, are not able to access theirpremises for 30 hours a week, so cannot jointhe scheme anyway; and the scheme conflictswith other government policies, notably theliving wage and improved staff qualifications,both of which are likely to raise employers’costs. We also noted that unless fundinglevels are known before the start of thefinancial year, business planning isimpossible. In three of the eight pilots therate had not been confirmed by mid-June.This is simply not good enough. No wonderthat the Social Mobility Commission reportedin March that nearly 50% of new parents didnot know what support was available.

I know that many MSA members areconcerned about the possible effects of the30 hours’ funding and some are evenconsidering closure. However, we suggest

staff live in flats or houses with severaloccupants and possibly a high turnover ofsuch occupants, the system is nearlyimpossible to operate. Also if a care workerwas themselves the subject of a care orderor has adopted children who were subject toone – they are disqualified. We argue thatthe other checks on suitability including DBSand other employment checks should beadequate, and that the burden on employersis too great. Also the immediate suspensionof staff, as required under the disqualificationand pending any appeal, creates problemsof continuity.

In September we shall be publishingguidance linking Ofsted’s inspectionjudgements to the EYFS. The aim is to enableMSA members to quickly provide policies andother information relevant to each judgementas well as helping to ensure that you havechecked all the EYFS requirements. This willadd to the benefits of joining MSA – so watchthis space.

Meanwhile, have a restful and enjoyablesummer.

that you continue to wait and see whathappens over the next twelve months. It isimportant that local authorities realise thatthe additional 15 hours is an optionalscheme not linked to continuing to be part ofthe current ‘first’ 15 hours. Moreover theadditional 15 hours are not aimed atimproving children’s chances, but are a ‘workincentive’, according to Sam Giymah theminister. So when the Universities of Essexand Surrey say that the educationaloutcomes from the funding are notmeasurable, that is in part due to children’seducation not being the goal of the policy. Ifyou are told that to receive any funding youmust take 30 hours or nothing, please let meknow so that we can take the case up withthe local authority and with DfE.

Another DfE consultation this summer hasbeen on changes to disqualificationarrangement affecting childcare workers. Atthe MEAB conference on June 10th,delegates helped us to formulate ourresponses to ten questions asked by DfE andthe results have been sent to theDepartment, noting that this was a majorexercise in participation by leaders of highquality provision. The issues are that thedisqualification by association arrangementsare far too tight. Two particular casespotentially affect staff. Thus where someoneshares accommodation with a person who isdisqualified from childcare work, then thechildcare worker must also be disqualified. Itis the employer’s duty to identify this andbegin the disqualification process. Where

Chairman’s update June 2016

Martin Bradley reports

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5Montessori International Summer 2016

Shaunagh de Boinvilleremembered On a windy spring Sunday in April, family,friends, and past and present families andpupils of Grantham Farm Montessori Schoolin Hampshire gathered to celebrateShaunagh’s life and plant flowers in hermemory.

It was a moving occasion with a welcomefrom the Reverend David Barlow followed bysinging, recitation of a poem written speciallyfor Shaunagh by Jono Balding (aged 9),whose mother let us know that some helpwas given to Jono in the creation of his poem“Thank you to a great Teacher”. The schoolhymn was sung by all and Rory Williams-Burrell (aged 25), as an ex-pupil ofShaunagh’s read “Why God Made Teachers”by Kevin William Huff. The ceremonyconcluded with a dedication and blessing ofthe garden and trees.

While some of us indulged in a delicioustea in the school, others took up tools andplanted bulbs and seedlings in the blessedpart of the garden which had beendedicated to Shaunagh’s memory and whichwill be nurtured by future generations ofchildren attending Grantham FarmMontessori School, under the guidance of theteaching team lead by Emma Wetherley.

Shaunagh’s family are keen to continue tosupport the charity Breast Cancer Now, towhom your donations were dedicated in thepast. In memory of Shaunagh, family friendChris Bond has decided to attempt to swimthe English Channel in September and haswritten as follows:

“Earlier this year Ilost a great friend,Shaunagh de Boinville,who I've known fortwenty-two years. Shewasn't just a friend,she was a remarkablewoman, inspirational inevery way. A devotedmother and wife toSimon and their three super children (nowadults) and a driving educationalist at herMontessori School, and within the Montessoriarena. Her loss is huge to many.

“I wanted to help Breast Cancer Now, acharity she was involved in, as a mark of howimportant this lady continues to be for manypeople and so I decided I'd swim the EnglishChannel in the hope to raise a significantamount of money. My mother has alsobattled this tragic disease so I find this asclose to home as it possibly can be.

“Only 1,600 people have ever successfully

should have to suffer as she did. Shaunaghhad far too much more to do in her work asa Montessori teacher, a mother, a wife and afriend. She was an incredible talent, creativebeyond words and someone who inspired somany to achieve their full potential andwildest dreams.

“By doing this swim I hope to ensure thatShaunagh’ s inspirational sprit and love of lifelives on and that Breast Cancer Now achievetheir ambition that by 2050, no one will diefrom breast cancer.”

To support Chris’s Trojan effort, pleasedonate to Breast Cancer Now through his JustGiving website www.justgiving.com/fundraising/chrisbond-channelswim

managed to swim the 21 mile EnglishChannel solo, so my task is monumental. Ihave a swim slot aboard the Viking Princessboat, to make an attempt to swim theChannel sometime between September 22and 29 this year, the exact date isdependent on the weather conditions. In themeantime the hellish hours of freezing coldwater swim training continues, however this isnothing compared to the battle thatShaunagh and many others fought andcontinue to fight against breast cancer.

“I am swimming for Breast Cancer Nowsolely as it is a charity which Shaunagh heldso very dear to her heart, in herdetermination to ensure that no other woman

‘Outstanding’ BarnesThe Barnes Montessori Nursery had anOfsted inspection in May and received‘Outstanding’ in all areas; this was their firstinspection since November 2011, four and ahalf years ago.

Anne-Marie True, Principal and owner foralmost 30 years, was absolutely delightedand praised her committed and dedicatedteam. As a strong advocate of the Montessoriapproach to learning and development andMEAB accreditation she was able to tell theinspector she strongly believed theaccreditation process and on-going practiceevaluation and reflection contributed to thecontinuing quality care and high standardswhich are in the interests of the children andat the heart of everything the nursery does.


Akin to the Montessori approach in thenursery, one of the key findings, as theinspector quoted, was that “… staffenthusiastically motivate all children to beextremely independent”.

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Montessori International Summer 2016

and match these to our classification cardswhen we get back to the setting.

These activities also help us show childrenthe evolution of animals and plants; we thengo on to introduce the children tonomenclature cards and classification chartsand ecosystems as is normal in a Montessorisetting.

The classification cards contain picturesthat represent animals or plants and serve asa foundation to help the children understandthe different characteristics of the animalsand plants displayed. All these help thechildren to understand themselves as humansand the relationship they have with the livingworld.

Through my search for natural nature spots,we found the local forest nursery and throughnetworking, they kindly allowed us to usetheir garden twice a week for an hour. Thesesessions have been invaluable and haveenabled me to give the children a small tasteof nature in the city. Here we have seenherbs and vegetables being grown fromseeds, watched the birds and animals thatare encouraged to use the garden, includingresident foxes, and they have a bug hotel.The garden has been designed and adaptedto provide the best facilities for allowing thechildren to interact with nature.

Parents comments on these sessions haveincluded:

“Collingham Gardens is a little naturehaven in busy central London. My daughterenjoyed taking part in Forest activities thather childminder organised there on a regularbasis. The unique set-up has tremendouslyhelped her physical development andboosted her confidence. She truly lovedspending her time there.”

“Our girls are beginning to understandhow important it is to look after nature, andconstantly being outside the girls havegained confidence in climbing, sliding andrunning which has been great for theirphysical development and social interactionskills.”

We also use the Calthorpe Project on aregular basis, which is a local communitycentre and gardens; its aim is to enable localpeople and children to improve their qualityof life by developing volunteeringprogrammes including horticultural training. Itprovides a sustainable food growing spaceand programmes for environmentaleducation, supervised activities for childrenincluding a weekly gardening drop-in for

Dorothy Williams tells us aboutthe ways of connecting with naturein the urban surroundings ofCamden, north London

ln 2013 I set up my Montessori childmindingbusiness, Busy Bumblebees MontessoriChildcare, from my home, an apartment in ahouse in Gower Street, at the heart ofLondon’s famous Bloomsbury district. It is in agreat location for children as we havenumerous local squares and gardens, somegreat natural city spaces such as CollinghamGardens Forest Nursery (which we visitregularly), so nature is all around us even inthe centre of London.

In this article, l would like to share how lincorporate nature in my setting. Living in anapartment did present some challengeswhen l first started Busy Bumblebees, sonaturally l went in search of local facilities thatwould promote and enhance the children’slearning experience of nature in thecommunity. In doing so l found CollinghamGardens Forest Nursery, The CalthorpeProject and Camley Street Nature reserve. Asteachers living in any big city we need tohelp our children have experiences that comefrom nature so they can develop arelationship with it.

Dr Montessori believed that nature is initself a source of inspiration for learning as allthings natural fascinate children. They arehungry to learn about nature and wildlife, andtheir imagination helps to take them out oftheir regular routines and places. Childrenalso need to go outside into the world as thisgives them answers to questions like wheredoes the ant live? Why do flowers grow? Theyare looking for a structure and a relationshipbetween these things.

Our setting overlooks a large unusedgarden and we have a resident fox and hercubs, l have window boxes where we growflowers and herbs and we have our own birdfeeder which an array of beautiful Robins,House Sparrows and Blue Tits visit every day.Living in the heart of the city we have toencourage nature to visit us. We have achildren’s room that contains a nature tablewhere we grow plants and herbs andvegetables, and our last produce was DwarfGreen Beans. We use Montessori life cyclesmaterials in teaching about nature, and go ondaily walks in natural spaces and parks tocollect leaves, twigs and dropped flowers

under fives, and leisure activities throughsport programmes. The children love thesessions here and it teaches them all aboutlife cycles, growing and producing food, andlearning about the environment – they evenhave a café where we can eat the produce(for more information go towww.calthorpeproject.org).

There are so many ways of connectingchildren to nature in the city as a childminder,even if you do not have a garden. We havealso covered lots of Nature activities in thesetting including the typical Montessoriactivities of looking at life cycles of butterfliesand bees and watering and caring for plants,which also included growing our own dwarfbeans from seeds this spring. The visits toparks allow us to search for new flowers andlook for wildlife. We even set up our own antcolony this year for a short period so that thechildren could see them building their nestclose up. In Richard Louv’s book Last Child inthe Woods he states that “… when childrenhave regular contact with nature, in anunstructured way, they are more attentive,observant, creative and self-confident.”

Ideal Montessori environments usually haveaccess to the indoors and outdoors, andMaria Montessori stressed that nature isimperative for proper physical andpsychological development: “… whenindividuals develop normally, they plainly feela love for all living creatures.” (Montessori,1972, p.76)

Montessori and the EYFS have lots ofsimilarities in teaching about nature; forexample, in the Early Years FoundationStatutory Framework (2014) ‘Understandingthe world’ we are advised to get children tomake sense of the world by exploring andencouraging them to investigate materials

Childminding in the city

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using all their senses. Within Montessori settings, we do this by meansof the nature table displays, and caring for plants and living things sothe children are quite closely married to nature.

As Maria Montessori so eloquently put it, “The action of educativenature so understood is very practically accessible. Because, even ifthe vast stretch of ground and the large courtyard necessary forphysical education are lacking, it will always be possible to find a fewsquare yards of land that may be cultivated, or a little place wherebirds can make their nest, things sufficient for spiritual education. Evena pot of flowers at the window can if necessary, fulfil the purpose.”(Montessori, 2008, p118)


The Early Years Foundation Statutory Framework (2014)

Gilder, S.A. (2009). Montessori by Nature, Montessori Life, 21 (4), 34-37.

Louv, R. (2008) Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.

Maria Montessori (2008) The Montessori Method: BN Publishing (p118).

Montessori, M. (1972). Peace and education. Madras: Kalakshetra Press.

Dorothy Williams is an Ofsted registered childminder, a facilitator for theProfessional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) forCamden, and gives talks for Camden Council Early Years to newlyregistering childminders on how to set up their own childmindingbusinesses. As a Montessori childminder she is passionate aboutconnecting children to nature within her practice.


7Montessori International Summer 2016

Chair Jenny McArthur reportsMembers were inspired by the MSA Conference in March andafterwards, at our network meeting, we welcomed David Gettmanfrom My Montessori Child and Jawad Al-Nawab outlined themindfulness course he will be running at a member’s setting. We werejoined by Barbara Isaacs, Martin Bradley and prospectivechildminders.

Our next meeting was on Saturday 25 June 2016 with Anne Shinerat Kleinkinder Montessori near Bath. Anne is a childminder who has avery special setting and offers Erdkinder - Flexischool to Primary agedchildren. As we each work in our homes, we gain vital insight fromvisiting our members’ settings, finding and sharing ideas for our owndevelopment.

Future Network meetings:

Saturday 15 October 2016 with Sonia Quinn at Red Door Montessoriin London: ‘Where does the horme take the child?’ presented by KatiMencer and Andrea Dalling.

Saturday 21st January 2017 will be at Little Explorers, Cambridge.Topic to be confirmed.

March 2017 After the Conference date to be confirmed.

Perspectiveof PeaceEarlier this year SarahRowledge – Principal ofSoaring High MontessoriPrimary School and MSAChair for the MSA PrimarySchools group – had theidea to create a poetryanthology filled with poemswritten by MontessoriPrimary School studentsfrom around the UK. Withfabulous support from agroup of MontessoriPrimary Head Teacherspoems started to flood in– from minimal ‘two liners’ to deep and meaningful works focusing onthe subject of peace. Sarah was overwhelmed with the response.

Reception classes put pen to paper and created some inspiredpoetry whilst Year 6 used a more mature approach to peace and itsmeanings. The poems were then amalgamated and put into thehands of a designer, bound and published.

The finished product is one that every student and school should beproud of – well done everybody.


Annie Shiner’s setting 'Kleinkinder'

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It is significant that some 70 years afterMontessori formulated her pedagogy, LorisMalaguzzi, director of the nursery schools inthe Reggio Emilia region of Italy, came to re-iterate Montessori’s own belief in children’scapacity to lead us towards a deeperunderstanding of their learning. In the 1948introduction to the Discovery of the ChildMontessori writes from Poona “… thedevelopment of my work and the conclusionsreached from the revelations given by thechildren in our schools have surpassed ourfondest expectation.” In 2016 Montessoripractitioners continue to learn from childrenby listening, observing and provokinglearning in the carefully preparedenvironments.

This year’s MSA conference gives us anopportunity to reflect on our own learningfrom the children of today and what it reallymeans to our practice. We hope to tease outsome of the challenges which Montessoripresents in her writing to our practice today



Montessori International Summer 2016

MSA NationalConference 2017

Our Speakers

Jan DubielWhat matters to Early YearsTeachers

Jan trained as a teacherspecialising in Early Years and subsequentlytaught across the Nursery, Reception and Year 1age ranges, as well as leading and managingteams of practitioners in Bradford, Oxfordshire,Norfolk and York. As an Early Years Consultantfor the City of York he trained and supportedpractitioners in the implementation of theFoundation Stage and developed partnershipworking. Following this, he was appointed asEarly Years Adviser for the London Borough ofHavering, leading the Early Years team indeveloping effective practice and provision.From 2005 to 2010 he worked for QCDA withresponsibility for the monitoring anddevelopment of the EYFS and was ProgrammeLead for the EYFS Profile with nationalresponsibility for its implementation andmoderation. He currently works for EarlyExcellence as its National Director.

Barbara IsaacsWork cycle or Zone ofProximal Flow?

Barbara joined the newlyestablished MCI in 1998 aftertraining Montessori teachers both at Montessori

St Nicholas and London Montessori Centre. Shewas also a proprietor of Seedlings MontessoriNursery in Oxfordshire for fifteen years. She isthe Chief Education Officer of Montessori StNicholas Charity.

Jeremy ClarkeNurturing the Inner life of thechild

Jeremy has spent 13 years as aschool teacher, 12 of which werein Early Years classes. He was the FoundationStage Co-ordinator at Gorton Mount Primaryduring their transition to Montessori practice. Hehas been delivering seminars for professionaldevelopment and to diploma students for sixyears, and in 2013 became the leader of E-Learning at MCI. Since 2012, Jeremy has beenworking as an assessor for the MontessoriEvaluation and Accreditation Board and alsodelivering CPD training around the country forseveral Montessori Schools Association regions.He is a regular contributor to MontessoriInternational magazine, writing both theoreticalarticles and those from the perspective of aparent.

Annamaria GuildListening to toddlers in ahome based provision

Annamaria has been aMontessori mum for twelve yearsand a practitioner for eight years. She gained

her qualifications while working in aMontessori nursery and in 2013 decided to setup her own Montessori childminding provisionfor babies and toddlers. Annamaria studied atMCI and is currently completing her Degree inEarly Childhood Studies at LMU. Annamariatakes great interest and joy in working withthe very young Citizens of our World.

Katarzyna SzewenkoLearning with children inthe outdoor classroom

Katarzyna Szewenko is theMontessori Early YearsEducator at Woodentots Montessori NatureNursery in Camden. Originally from Poland,after obtaining her Masters Degree inPedagogy she decided to relocate to Englandin order to continue her professionaldevelopment. Katarzyna started herMontessori training at AMI and at the sametime worked as a volunteer for the NationalAutistic Society and gained some experiencein working with children on the autisticspectrum. She finished her Montessori Trainingat MCI and obtained the Montessori TeacherDiploma. After finishing her teaching practiceshe was offered the post of Deputy Managerat the newly opened Nature Nursery whereshe actively links Montessori and ForestSchool philosophy. At the MSA conference,she was named a Montessori Practitioner ofthe Year 2016.

The Role of theMontessori Teacher

“…. things about children and for childrenare only learnt from children ….”(Malaguzzi in Edwards, 2012:30)

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and explore the riches which are offered tous by children as we guide them in “…thedevelopment of the great potentialities ofthe human personality in the course of itsformation.” (Montessori, 1948)

The conference programme aims toremind participants of the key tasks of theMontessori teachers and early yearspractitioners today. It will explore the uniquefeatures of learning along the planes ofdevelopment as identified by MariaMontessori. It will give a voice to Montessorieducators who will share their experience ofworking with the children and colleagues intheir schools and nurseries. It is also vital tohear “the voice of the child”, and we wouldlike to thank the children from MontessoriPrimary schools who have agreed to comeand share their views and experiences.

Montessori St Nicholas and theMontessori Schools Association, theorganisers of the Conference, hope you willenjoy the day and we look forward toseeing you at the Institute of Education,University College London.

Barbara Isaacs, Chief Education Officer,Montessori St Nicholas Charity

Conference Fee

MSA Members £60.00Non-members £100.00

Early booking discount:

£46 for MSA members block booking five ormore tickets before 31st December 2016

£55 for MSA members booking before 31stJanuary 2017

£25 for MCI students booking before 15February 2017

Late booking fee:

£125 Bookings received after 22nd February2017

We will not accept any cancellations afterthe 22nd February 2017. The conference feepayment is non-refundable, but can betransferred to another MSA member beforethe 22nd February 2017.

In order to qualify for the members’discount you must provide your membershipnumber. If making a group booking, pleaselist the names and MSA membershipnumbers of all attendees.

9Montessori International Summer 2016

Programme10.00 Welcome and Introduction

Dr Stephen Tommis Chief Executive Officer, Montessori St Nicholas Charity

10.15 MSA updateDr Martin BradleyChairman, Montessori Schools Association

10.45 What matters to Early Years TeachersJan DubielNational Director, Early Excellence

11.30 Work cycle or Zone of Proximal Flow? The role of Montessori teachers in seeding children’s learningBarbara IsaacsChief Education Officer, Montessori St Nicholas Charity

12.00 Children from Montessori Primary Schools - Our Montessori Teachers

12.15 Montessorian of the Year and Montessori Practitioner of the Year Awards

12.30 Lunch/networking/visit to exhibitors

13.50 Nurturing the Inner life of the childJeremy Clarke

14.10 Listening to toddlers in a home based provisionAnnamaria Guild

14.30 Learning with children in the outdoor classroomKatarzyna Szewenko

14.50 Provoking children’s learning in the Children’s House Rita Skitt

15.10 Working with the Great Lessons - exploring the curriculum Sam Sims

15.30 Learning with the team – sharing of practiceDanielle Hignett

15.50 Closing remarksBarbara Isaacs

61 children attending. Through both the nurseryand school she has not only cared for manychildren, but also works hard to support staff intheir journeys and encourages them to continuetraining and develop Montessori in theirclassrooms in many different ways. Workingalongside the National Curriculum with the olderchildren has been an on-going challenge whichhas developed over the last eight years. Sheloves knowing that now many of the Year 6children who leave to go to high school havebeen in a Montessori environment since theywere babies at the nursery.

Danielle HignettLearning with the team –sharing of practice

Danielle acquired her nursery inJuly 2015 – she is the owner ofHolly Tree Montessori Nursery in Stockport. Shestudied Chemistry and Management atManchester University, and then went into thepharmaceutical industry in various sales, trainingand management roles. She then decided tocompletely change her career and bought herfirst Montessori nursery. She is very passionateabout performing any job to the best of herability. She sets high standards and teamwork isvery important to her. Danielle embarked on aMontessori diploma qualification in order tounderstand and lead her nursery further. Overallthis has led to an improved Montessori ethosand increased the setting’s team motivation.

Rita SkittProvoking children’s learningin the Children’s House

Rita has worked in education forover 35 years. As a museum’spedagogue in Germany, Rita worked withschools on stimulating children’s and youngadults’ learning through the interactive use ofartefacts. All three of Rita’s children attended aMontessori nursery, and it was through theirexperience that she was first introduced to theprinciples of Montessori education. Returning tothe UK after living for 15 years in various Africancountries and working in international schools,she trained as a Montessori teacher. Rita hasrun the Oxford Montessori Forest Farm nurserysince 2002 and has lectured for their teachertraining programme. With the Open Universityshe gained a certificate in Early Years Practice.Rita firmly believes in the pivotal role of aprepared environment to support children’sdevelopment.

Sam SimsWorking with the GreatLessons - exploring thecurriculum

Sam Sims has been working as aMontessori Practitioner for 20 years. Shecurrently owns a day nursery and Primaryschool in Ipswich, Suffolk. She is passionateabout Montessori education and has enjoyedwatching the primary school expand from 8 to

MSA NationalConference 2017Date in March 2017 t.b.a.Institute of Education, University College London

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Birts Scholarship. I first joined Paint PotsMontessori Schools in September 2011 as ateaching practice student and I am now thehead teacher at The Boltons. This is a rolethat I am thoroughly enjoying and one that Ifind hugely rewarding. I am very keen to workfor the MSA and relish the opportunity to giveback to the Montessori community in somesmall way.

Cosmic Education withDenys LyneVeronica Rossi reports

Attending the spring workshop’s ‘CosmicEducation’ training on 30 January was verysignificant and inspirational for me as I havealways been fascinated by the Montessoriarea of learning known as ‘Knowledge andUnderstanding of the World’.

I believe that children need to be aware oftheir position in the Universe, and in theimportance of 'interrelating' things andencouraging the co-operation of all livingbeings. As nothing begins in isolation, everysingle being plays a fundamental role in theUniverse.

The Six Great Lessons were developed byMontessori for the primary school children.However, as a teacher in a MontessoriNursery School I gained knowledge aboutactivities that could be introduced to childrenin my classroom. I found the training veryuseful and I also learnt new facts aboutMaria Montessori's life.

One of the activities that I adored startedwith the book titled What's Under the Bed,and it was an inspiration to see the activitythat Denys created from it. It will give childrena better understanding of everything from theEarth’s crust to its centre.

The training was a reminder of howimportant it is to impart facts to childrenthrough storytelling, and use new words(astrophysicist for example) in order toexpand their vocabulary and in turn theirimagination. The training created anopportunity for me to meet new Montessoripractitioners from different countries of originand cultures and gave us an opportunity toexchange ideas and experiences. Throughthis we were creating wider connections andnew initiatives between Montessorieducators.

One of the practitioners pointed out at theend of the training that Cosmic Educationcould be seen as one of the best way ofteaching as it encourages peace andharmony, its main principles being: respect,peace, interrelations, responsibility and lovefor our peers as well as for ourselves.



not disappointed. Jane, as ever, proved to be an engaging

and knowledgeable speaker, giving us clearinformation on conditions such as dyslexiaand dyspraxia. It is always wonderful to hearfrom people who are actively involved inworking with children to help support themwith these issues as they have a real insightinto the emotional turmoil that can beexperienced.

We all had ample opportunity to askquestions and gain an understanding of howthese conditions can manifest themselves inthe classroom and in the home. Whilst someof the discussion was about children in theprimary and secondary sector, it was reallyinteresting to learn about some telltale signswe can pick up on at nursery level and startto put the appropriate strategies in place.

Hearing of their progression into formalschooling really helped us to see howimportant early identification of specificlearning difficulties really is, and how this canmake such a difference in the outcomes forthe child through their school days.

After lunch Jo got everyone to put theirthinking caps on and discuss some casestudies with a view to writing a one pageprofile. Whilst we were not all necessarilygood at putting pen to paper, the discussionsaround the one page profiles were veryuseful and informative. It is always so lovelyto see so many Montessorians comingtogether and I can’t wait to meet up againnext term.

Region 10

New Region 10 deputy:Introducing Georgina ScullyI am a native Zimbabweanand have been living in theUK for nearly nine years. Icame over initially to attendUniversity at Durham andthen undertook further studyat Montessori CentreInternational in London, having received a

Montessori International Summer 2016

Region 4

Science and SupportingBoysWe were so lucky to have a sunny day onSaturday 23 April as many of us were a littlehesitant when it came to participating insome of the water experiments that Jeremyhad planned. We huffed and puffed and triedto blow houses down, we experimented withrafts to transfer items and yes you havenoticed a theme, our experiments werebased on nursery rhymes. Air pressure,centripetal force and water resistance wereall included in this wonderful session, we hada blast. Things became a little more seriouswhen the topic transferred to supporting boys,but we all went home with many ideas. Thankyou to Chapel Grange Montessori NurserySchool for hosting the day and to Jeremy aswell.

Montessori for 2 to 3 year olds

The approach to Wharfedale MontessoriSchool is utterly delightful, with bluebells andwild garlic in the woods, and with Berhane onher way from London I knew it was going tobe a treat for all on Saturday 14 May. Weexplored the needs of this special age groupand how best to support them; we sharedgood practice and revisited Montessoriprinciples. The importance of acceptance ofothers was high on our agenda along withfavourable environments, relationships, space,pushing boundaries, supporting symbolic playand the role of the practitioner. Participantswelcomed the opportunity to explore theschool, nursery and baby unit – what a treatthat was, so many thanks to Jane andGraham, who made us so welcome, and toBerhane.

Upcoming Training

Come and explore Science plus SupportingBoys at Willows Montessori, Tyne and Wearon Saturday, 15 October. [email protected] for more information.

Region 9

Special Educational Needswith Jane DupreeSam Cottrill reports

Those of us who are lucky enough to havelistened to Jane Dupree before arrived ineager anticipation of an enlightening talk atthe regional event on 14 May, and we were

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11Montessori International Summer 2016

Local author reads tonursery children

Local children’s author Christine Robertsvisited Chalfont St Peter Montessori Schoolthis week to read her new book The Very ShyPicture Book and another story that she haswaiting to be published about a sleepy trafficlight.

The children were enthralled by bothstories, especially the funny voices Christineused for the different animals in her firstbook. She answered lots of questions fromthe children and teachers too, explainingwhat had given her the idea to write a storyabout a sleepy traffic light, which the childrenfound very funny.

“The children loved listening to Christineread to them today, and were delightedwhen many of the parents bought signedcopies of the book at going home time,” saidDebbie Lomax, Deputy Principal. “Christinehas also promised to come back when hernew traffic light story is published later thisyear.”

Walthamstow MontessoriSchool is 15

Montessorian Lorna Mahoney first thoughtabout opening a nursery/kindergarten in2000 when she could not find a suitable

A visit from the fire brigadeOn a beautiful sunny day in February, the children at Pippins Montessori Nursery in WhiteColne, Colchester were very lucky to have a visit from a fire engine from the nearby Halsteaddepot. This was in conjunction with our topic of “Occupations” where the children have beenlearning about different job roles. The firemen came into the classroom to give a little talk tothe children about what they do in their role and to show the uniform that they have to wear.The children and teachers were very excited to try on some of the clothes, especially the firehelmets. Everyone then went outside and took turns sitting in the cab. After that, the childrensprayed water with the big hose that the firemen use when they go out on a call. Just beforethey left the nursery, they sounded the horn of the fire engine and flashed their lights leavingbehind many happy faces.

school for her daughter in her home town ofWalthamstow, north-east London. Afteradvertising locally on shop message boards,she opened her own school with just 26 localchildren and four staff in April 2001.Reception, Lower then Upper Prep classesgrew from this starting point, and the laterdevelopment of Elementary classes nowmeans that WMS can offer a full Montessorieducation to children aged from 2 to 11years.

The school celebrated its 15th birthday ata huge party on April 21st, and three of theoriginal class of 2001 (now between 17 and19 years old) returned for the day tocelebrate with the school. They sat withKindergarten children during reading classesand participated as aides to the principalduring a whole school assembly on thehistory of the school. In the afternoon therewas a party with a celebratory cake, and inthe evening Lorna gave a lecture to a largegroup of school parents to help them followMontessori practices in the home. At the endof a very long day, Lorna thanked everybodyfor their hard work in organising what was avery special celebration.

Racing in ScotlandIt was a perfect ten on Sunday 24 April aswe celebrated the Mulberry BushMontessori Balfron 10K, marking a decadeof fantastic races in April. The event hasgrown from a small village event of 100

runners into one of the most popular fixtureson the national running calendar. There wereover 670 weekend and serious runnerstackling the challenging course in theCampsie Hills, starting and finishing from thevillage of Balfron and its cheering residentsand day visitors. Over the years we haveraised over £60,000 for the local Balfronprimary and senior school for much neededresources. Action in the Mind will also be abeneficiary this year in recognition of itssupport for the school pupils.

The race has grown beyond our wildestdreams, and as a local independenteducation provider Mulberry Bush Montessoriis overjoyed to continue to support and bethe main sponsor of the event over the pastten years.

Former pupil Josie Cooper takes part in areading class

l to r: Ross Murdoch, Balfron native and currentCommonwealth Games 200m Breaststrokechampion; Mairi Clark of Mulberry BushMontessori; Colin Mendham, Race Director

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The merry month of MayBack in the spring Woodentots Montessori School celebrated May Day with maypole dancingin the community gardens at Rochester Road, London NW1. The children were introduced tosome of the dances and enjoyed dancing around and around and watching the beautifulpatterns that emerged from their movements. They were accompanied by the piano accordionand were captivated by the ‘jig dolls’ dancing to the rhythm of the music. Happily the sunshone on the event, the children made garlands to wear, and all the parents and care-giversjoined us as well.

Popping up in SuffolkAs Montessorians we all love and cherish ourphilosophy and our materials. We talk abouthow the activities call to the children and howthe children are drawn to them. In ourclassrooms this is evident every day as weobserve our children and their joy inexploring and learning. Even knowing this, wewere not prepared for the reactions of thechildren when we were invited to host aMontessori Pop-Up Classroom at the SuffolkShow in June at Trinity Park, Ipswich.

On a very cold Tuesday afternoon we setup our classroom in the corner of a largemarquee. With fire engines to one side of us,rifle ranges, an abundance of animals inpaddocks, stickers by the thousand and morehelicopters, food halls and flowers than youcan imagine, we wondered how manypeople would visit us over the next two days.The answer was lots.



Montessori International Summer 2016

Making insectsThe children at St Andrew’s Montessorirecently took part in a local project called ArtSquared. It is a project in support of theChelsea Fringe, which started five years agoand is intended to celebrate community andguerrilla gardening. It keeps itself completelyindependent from large organisations orsponsorships.

There are hundreds of events, fromdisplays, talks, guided walks, demonstrationsand workshops. Many events are in London,but the festival has grown hugely since itstarted, and events now take place in otherparts of the UK and elsewhere in Europe,Australia and Japan.

Several residents involved in caring forpublic spaces in Barnsbury decided it would

actually represented the Region andMontessori nationally and internationally. Wehad many enquiries from families in Suffolkand signposted them to Montessori nurseriesin our Region. We had enquiries from otherparts of England and Europe too. It was afantastic two days. If you are ever given thechance to do something similar, grasp it withboth hands.

Sandra Copping and Lesley Milmine are theNursery Managers at Colourbox Montessori inNewmarket and Haverhill in Suffolk.

be great to get something going in Islingtonlinked to the Chelsea Fringe, so as a first trialgo they decided to create a link with localschools.

St Andrew’s Montessori children havemade some insects to hang on the trees inthe gardens surrounding the school. Eachchild created an insect (bees, butterflies,ladybirds, beetles, caterpillars anddragonflies) or spiders and snails.

The insects have been a great source ofadventure as the children helped to put themup and are enjoying taking their parentsthrough the gardens to try to find all of theinsects.

More information atwww.chelseafringe.com/event/art-squared/all/

Lesley and I arrived after a relaxing nightin Felixstowe and braced ourselves foraction, and it’s a good job we had slept wellthe night before. We were inundated withyoung visitors all day. Many children told us itwas the best thing they had done. Parentswanted to move on but the children justwanted to stay and work. The proud facesthat walked away from our little classroomwere heart-warming to see. Every child wentaway looking as if they had grown an inchsince they walked in.

Our activities were aimed at 2 to 6 yearolds but we attracted older children too whomade up their own challenges: ‘Can I do thespindle box blindfold?’ ‘Can I build thosetogether?’ ‘What else can we do?’ Somechildren insisted on working with everyactivity that we had with us, be it the PinkTower, Knobless Cylinders, Colour Box 3,Botany Puzzles, three part cards, ContinentGlobe, Cylinder Blocks, Geometric Trays orNature Table. Every activity was received withexcitement and delight.

After spending nine hours a day for twodays on our knees we were literally ‘on ourknees’. Although we were there to representColourbox Newmarket and Haverhill, we

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Pick Withers on music andMontessoriI spent three yearsliving in Rome buttravelled extensivelythroughout Italy, playingdrums for a groupknown as ThePrimitives, appearinglive and on television. Iimmersed myself in theculture, learning a new language and, for avery introverted, provincial, shy teenager,somehow the experience liberated me and,when later becoming a father myself, Inaturally gravitated to Italy for familyholidays. I noticed that Italians were much

Growing wildflowers Children from Soaring High MontessoriPrimary School aged between 9 and 11years old today visited Marks Hall Gardensand Arboretum to take part in the RoyalBotanic Gardens Kew initiative Grow Wild.This is the UK’s biggest ever wild flowercampaign, bringing people together totransform local spaces with native pollinator-friendly wild flowers and plants. Creating

13Montessori International Summer 2016

A pig in cloverThe Meadows Montessori Primary School,Ipswich (an independent school for 4 to 11year olds) completed their Pig for ‘Pigs GoneWild’ in support of the St Elizabeth Hospiceback in the spring. Every child at the schoolcame up with a design, and some of themcreated miniature pig sculptures of theirdesigns.

Sarah Jenkins, the school’s art teachercommented that: “It was important to us thateveryone at the school painted our pig. Aswe are the Meadows School, the pig becamea glorious green, if slightly muddy meadowand everyone at the school then painted theirown flower in that meadow meaning thatevery child was represented by a flower.‘Piggy in the Meadow’ is the name of our pigsculpture as the piggy is surrounded by thelove of all the children.”

The pig will eventually take pride of placein the school garden, which has also beencreated by the children themselves witheverything from a tepee for storytelling to asandpit and chess boards made out of treetrunks.

Meadowbrook grit shinesthrough

On Saturday 19 March the MeadowbrookJudo Team took part in their first ISA(Independent Schools Association)competition. The level was extremely highand the children fought in some toughmatches. The determination ofMeadowbrook’s team shone through and weare thrilled to announce that Silke (in Year 4)came first in her section, winning gold andJared (Year 5) came second, taking home asilver medal. (Silke and Jared are both on theleft in the pictures.)

more relaxed around young children and, inparticular, more sympathetic to theirvicissitudes.

When spending time with the children atSt. Edmund's Montessori Pre-School, it wasso re-assuring to think of the founder of thismovement not only as a physician, but achild carer alle mode Italian, thus giving methe confidence to allow the children licenceto discover for themselves the array ofpercussion instruments I provided on the day,without suffocating them with too muchtechnique or structure.

added: “Soaring High has a closeassociation with Marks Hall. The children visitweekly for Forest School, and we believe thatbeing outside is a natural extension of theclassroom. We have been involved inwoodland planting at Marks Hall, and we’redelighted that the children now have thisopportunity to learn about the importance ofwild flowers.”

For more information on Grow Wild, visitwww.growwilduk.com.

food sources for pollinators like bees andbutterflies is very important work: since the1930s, the UK has lost 97% of its wild flowermeadows.

Coggeshall in Bloom, which aims to bringcommunities together to enhance the localenvironment, applied to Kew to receive theReady, Steady, Sow kit, which containseverything needed to create a native wildflower patch. The pupils of Soaring Highbrought their seeds to Marks Hall andplanted them along a pathway that hasrecently been extensively landscaped toimprove the path network at Marks Hall. Thepath leads to the newly established AcerGlade, and visitors will be able to walkbeside the wild flowers planted by thechildren on this path.

Rebecca Lee, General Manager at MarksHall noted: “It is fantastic to see the childrengetting hands on with nature and plantingwild flowers. Here at Marks Hall, we aredelighted to play our part in helping childrento engage with nature.”

Sarah Rowledge, Principal at Soaring High

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Observe, Listen, Provoke!

Dr Stephen Tommis Jan Dubiel Lynnette Brock Michelle Dows-Miller Dr Martin Bradley Barbara Isaacs

Montessori International Summer 2016

support and collective progress.Lynnette Brock, MCI Lecturer, then animated

the audience as she shared the findings ofthe action research she is conducting withProfessor John Siraj-Blatchford. This focuses ondefining schemes of knowledge, which aredemonstrated by children’s actions, and theirschemas, which denote their figurativeknowledge. She looked at how the preparedMontessori environment cultivates schemes ofaction, such as seriation with sensorialmaterials, and asked what more we could doto support children’s prevailing interests. Thetrue purpose of our interactions with a child,including presentations of the materials,should be to enhance their own creative free-flow play, to scaffold their learning andnurture their wellbeing. We need to be anexpert partner for them in their uniquelearning journey. If we are to succeed, weneed to really observe and listen to children



in order to elicit their own actions andacquisition of knowledge.

Jan Dubiel followed Lynnette by explainingthe role of Early Excellence, the organisationfor which he is National Director. With basesin Huddersfield and London, it is committedto understanding and promoting play-based,active learning through its innovative work.Jan explained the broad range of theorganisation’s activities, which includeoffering expert advice, bespoke support andspecialised training, with a clear focus oninspiring capable leadership. He talkedabout the familiar triangle of the child, adultand learning environment, and about thetypes of resources that cater for bothcontinuous provision and which matchchildren’s particular fascinations, echoingLynnette’s call for settings to offerprovocations in child-led learning anddevelopment.

Michelle Dows-Miller reports

This was the call to delegates during the fifthMEAB School Leaders Conference, held onFriday 10 June at UCL’s Institute of Education.The analysis of practice should be secondnature for owners and managers ofaccredited settings, but the presentationstook this reflection to a fundamental level –questioning what we provide for the childrenand why, and looking at ways that we couldperhaps better serve their needs. Thespeakers stimulated delegates’ thinkingabout how we facilitate learning and aboutadapting to the motivations of the 21stcentury child.

Dr Stephen Tommis, MSN’s Chief Executive,began the day with a warm welcome andencouragement to engage with the variousstrands of the Charity in order that it canassist Montessori practitioners through mutual

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Michael Gibson presented the MEAB certificates

Montessori International Summer 2016 15

free exploration and symbolic representation,such as through role-play? She called upon usto honestly observe, listen to and provokechildren’s developing knowledge andunderstanding, and in doing so, bring withconfidence what we cherish as Montessoripractitioners into the arena of modernpedagogical thinking.

The MEAB process encourages us to adoptand perpetuate self-evaluative practice. Theconference inspired us further to ensure thatwe offer outstanding learning environments inwhich children can truly flourish. Thanks aredue to Barbara Isaacs and Kristine Largo fororganising this opportunity for reflection anddebate, and to the trustees of MSN for theircontinued commitment to the MEAB scheme.

The morning concluded with a joyfulcelebration of the achievement of 20 settingsas they received their framed MEABcertificates, presented by the new Chair ofthe MEAB Board, Michael Gibson.

After lunch, Dr Martin Bradley discussedthe challenges of the current round of Ofstedinspections and referred delegates to newstatutory guidance. He reminded us thatleadership and management judgements areoverriding, and that these judgements includesafeguarding. Ofsted’s criteria for thesejudgements and its grade descriptors werehighlighted, and Martin asked if MSAmembers would benefit from writtenguidance on how to provide evidence forthese, a suggestion which met with muchenthusiasm from delegates. Martin finishedwith a review of the current governmentconsultation covering disqualification byassociation.

Barbara Isaacs then brought us swiftlyback to our Montessori roots. She talkedabout Montessori’s definition of‘normalisation’ being more than just a child’sability to concentrate. It is the child’s naturalpath of development, guided by humantendencies and sensitive periods. She askedmany searching questions about our dailypractice and if, for example, we fullyacknowledge the links between the theoriesof Montessori and Piaget in providing theenvironment that best fits the needs andinterests of the child. Do we truly appreciatechildren’s capacity to problem-solve andgrow in their creativity, do we allow for their

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Throughout the many years that I have been aMontessori educator I have yet to meet a teacherwho did not value the benefits of nature in a child’slearning. However, nature often becomesmarginalised in favour of ‘inside work’. Government

pressure and parental expectations begin to dictate whatareas of the curriculum become dominant, such as literacy andnumeracy. Location, climate, time constraints and difficultieswith supervision are also factors in how an outdoor space isused. In other cases, teachers cling to the security of thematerials and their orderly presentation to the children and donot feel confident extending opportunities to explore thenatural environment.

The Montessori approach is an integrated one and there is

great scope for a fuller exploration of the curriculum utilisingthe outdoors. The child is introduced to the natural world usingall the senses, which are further enhanced bythe child’s love of classification. Allowingchildren to experience nature is even moreimportant than in earlier times with so manychildren today becoming either overly-programmed or enthralled by electronicdevices.

So how do we go about embeddingthe natural world into the daily learningenvironment? There are many ways todo this depending on the opportunities andconstraints in any given situation. What isfeasible in a warm climate may not workin a cooler one. The availability of agarden is a distinct advantage but anasphalt playground – although presenting aformidable challenge – has possibilities too. Regardless

of constraints, preparing a favourable environment forexperiencing nature is always possible.

Each plane of development has different needs andrequirements. Where possible the landscaping of a schoolenvironment benefits from input by the children it serves.Young children love to have small hills to roll down, paths tofollow and flat spaces to build structures or play games on.Providing loose parts in the form of natural materials formoving around allows children to be creative in their play.Spaces for a labyrinth or reflective garden, terraced spaces to

grow food (part of understanding living systems), shadedspaces to sit and chat or congregate, all contribute to awonderful landscape.

Primary school aged children need to have a sense ofagency. They develop the classroom rules together and relishthe opportunity to be involved in designing some aspects ofthe outdoor environment. For example, the upper primary classat Montessori School Bali, Indonesia, designed and built aprotected area for their rabbits to graze and move aboutfreely. They organised everything from initial drawings toacquisition of materials and building of structure.

From a Montessori perspective we are looking at thehuman tendencies and cosmic

education and how this isreflected in the outdoor

environment design.Older children liketo explore on many

levels and the great


feature: learning from nature

Montessori International Summer 2016

Montessorioutdoors?–Wilma Grier writes about how to embracethe challenge of embedding the natural worldin the learning environment

The availability of a garden is a distinct advantage but an asphalt playground – althoughpresenting a formidable challenge – has possibilities too. Regardless of constraints,preparing a favourable environment for experiencing nature is always possible.


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17Montessori International Summer 2016

stories lead to all kinds of exploration and experimentation.Providing a vivarium for breeding butterflies and nesting boxesfor birds, for example, is harmonious with cosmic educationand allows children to observe life cycles at close range. Drystone riverbeds that fill up in the rain, ponds for frogs anddragonflies, open spaces for fort building, all are part of acurriculum enhancing children’s understanding of biology andthe needs of human beings. Children are little scientists andhaving a rich outdoor environment of plants and animalsallows for the study of biodiversity and living systems.

Focusing on the young child, let us explore ways that thenatural world can be integrated into the daily life of a centreor school. As Montessori educators we know that thepreparation of the environment is vitally important, first from aview of the whole learning experience and second as to thedetails of what is provided within the learning area. Much

As children in the 3 to 6 age group are beginning to classify,the moveable shelves on the verandah provide a wide rangeof materials dealing with parts of plants and animals, lifecycles, living and non-living matter, geographical location ofanimals, and the types of plants we eat, to name but a few.There are many opportunities to collaborate and explore thegarden through observation and audits of plant and animallife evident in the environment. Building geometric shapes andspirals with the many stones and pebbles under the mangotree, as well as hunting for special pebbles with individualletters written on them are favourite activities. Distance gamesalong with art and music are experienced outdoors with greatenjoyment whether it is painting, clay work, making patternsand structures with natural materials or playing the rindikgamelan.

Then there is the pleasure of digging, weeding, making

thought and planning goes into how the indoor learningenvironment is set up and the range of experiences offered tochildren. The same thoughtful planning can apply to preparingthe outdoors.

For schools and centres with a useable outdoor area thereare many ways to encourage a real connection with the naturalworld. For example, the Montessori School Bali consists of twosites, one for pre-school and one for the primary andadolescent community. Both sites provide ease of access forchildren to work outside. The pre-school has a beautiful gardenwith established trees providing shade and opportunities toclimb. Linking the garden and classrooms is a large tiledverandah where an outdoor programme, with its owndedicated Montessori educator, is set up to encourage thechildren to more fully explore the outdoors. A sink and tap isinstalled in the garden, and this in itself facilitates independentwater play and sink and float experiments, as well as a host ofpractical life exercises involving water. Tables and chairs areset up in shaded areas of the garden as well as the verandahand children can carry mats out to work on various tasks. Theprogramme serves both classrooms with several children fromeach class being outdoors at any one time.

All areas of the curriculum are enhanced by the programme.

compost, moving soil around, potting and planting, nurturingand measuring growth, collecting windfalls from the mangotree, harvesting fruits and vegetables and preparing harvestedfood to serve. In the rainy season there is the joy of running inthe rain and splashing through the large puddles that form inthe garden (there is always a change of clothing available).

The garden is used also for free play and for movement.Children can run free, climb the mango tree, grapple themonkey bars, slide down the slippery dip and swing on thetyres as well as kick and throw balls. Regular obstacles courseshelp develop large motor skills and agility.

In Australia, the Farmhouse Montessori School, Sydney builtnew premises in a U-shape so that children could access theoutdoors easily and still be under supervision. The central areawas roofed to make it accessible in all weathers. The schoolalso has a very large garden area packed with interestingexperiences for the children such as feeding and caring forhens, collecting eggs, making mulch, planting and nurturingseeds, harvesting herbs and flowers as well as creatingartworks using natural materials. These are just some of theopportunities available to the children. There are areas for

Pictured: opposite page top – Preparing garden bed. Above l to r: Ephemeral Art; Weighing mangoes and petals;, Scrubbing pebbles; Music time

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gathering as a group and nooks and crannies to be alone in ifpreferred.

What if the school or centre has no garden, only asphalt?Raised garden beds can be developed on asphalt either usingplanter boxes or the no-dig method, which gives good results(www.communitygarden.org.au); if space is really restricted usepots. In cold, wet weather draw children’s attention to mossgrowing on the asphalt and create a small moss garden. Inwarmer weather strawberries can be grown in gutteringattached to a wall. Vertical gardening works a treat. Use atrellis to grow climbing plants on a wall of a school shed or theoutside of a classroom wall.

If there is no access to an outdoor area bring natureindoors. Create a seasonal nature table or shelf and keep itinteresting and relevant. Potted plants and a class pet areopportunities for children to connect with nature. Maintaining acollection of natural materials such as pebbles, seed pods,chestnuts, pine cones and seashells allow you to provideadded points of interest to some exercises such as countersand cards. Visiting nearby parks, wild spaces or communitygardens also provide good opportunities for children toengage with the natural world.

As Montessori educators we acknowledge that childrenlearn through their senses and move through sensitive periodswhich assist them to experience and understand life. Youngchildren are particularly sensitive to nature and learn byexample. They readily absorb the attitudes of people in theirenvironment and perpetuate what they experience. Childrenneed caring adults in their lives who have a deep connectionand respect for the wonders of the natural world and who arewilling to pass this on.

Allowing children the freedom to more fully explore theoutdoor environment, to apply their increasing knowledge andunderstanding of the world and how it works, assists not onlyan appreciation of nature but also the development ofautonomy and confidence. Our task as parents and educatorsis to foster and support a deep connection and understandingof the natural world so that our planet will be well placed inrespectful and capable hands for the future.

Wilma Grier has been a Montessori educator for over 40 years, workingin Ireland, Australia and Indonesia. Her experience covers primaryschool, pre-school and Long Day Care. Wilma is an advocate forintegrating the outdoors in daily practice. For more information go towilmasgardentsv.wix.com/montessori


feature: learning from nature

Montessori International Summer 2016

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Helping children develop anearly understanding of thejourney from ‘field to fork’allows them to learn howthe food on their plate can

impact not only on their own wellbeing, butthe wellbeing of the natural world andwildlife.

Growing, cooking and food-basedlearning also provides an invaluablemeans of enriching the curriculum and is agreat way of building relationships withparents, carers and the surroundingcommunity.

Soil Association’s Food for Life providesschools, nurseries and hospitals withadvice and guidance on how to bring foodand food education together into a wholesetting approach. Jo Wild, who heads uptheir schools and early years awardsprogramme, shares her thoughts on howyou can join up activities to make the mostof food and sustainable learning.

Sowing the seeds of learning

An edible garden is an ideal way to help children make thefirst connection between the food they eat and the worldaround them. Children of any age can learn to grow food, sowhy not instil a love for it when they are very young. Growingfood encourages an awareness of healthier diets and allowsthem to experience many new shapes, colours and textures.

As well as practical skills, growing can support many areasof learning including language and numeracy skills. It gives theopportunity for children to build their understanding of theworld through hands-on activities as well as linking it to widerlearning, such as how food is grown and eaten in differentcommunities and parts of the world.

It also gives both an environment and the materials for a

range of expressive arts and design. Here are some ideas foractivities that link arts and the garden:•Exploring garden colours (artist’s palette, rainbow chips).•Drawing and painting plants, fruit and vegetables from the

garden.•Fruit and vegetable printing.•Using parts of plants for creative projects e.g. collages,

displays, land art.•Exploring taste, smell and textures of different fruit and

vegetables (feely bags, scavenger hunts).•Exploring smells and textures of compost, sand and soil.•Designing and making a scarecrow.•Making a bug hotel.•Making a musical washing line to deter pests.

In an age where convenience food is king and most food shopping isdone in supermarkets, it can be easy to forget how the food we eatconnects with the world around us.

From field to fork:helping children connect food with the world around them

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Healthy gardening

Your nursery or school garden is your own littlepatch of the world to look after and growingorganically is better for the environment, plantsand wildlife. Composting is fundamental to goodgardening, it recycles waste, saves resources andprovides a wonderful end product that improvessoil and provides fertiliser. By growing organicallyand teaching children about composting andcontrolling pests naturally, you are helping them todevelop an understanding of how to keep theworld around them healthy from an early age.

Linking to the wider community

Visiting local farms, food producers, markets orshops helps children make the connectionbetween where their food comes from and how itis produced. It also supports the wider curriculum. A wellorganised farm visit can be an exciting setting for fun activitiesfor children, including many that support the early yearscurriculum. Storytelling, counting games, treasure hunts andlearning about animals all fit well into a farm visit session.

Connecting the garden to the lunch table

Cooking using produce that children have grown allowsthem to develop a strong understanding of the relationshipbetween the food they eat and nature. It encourages them totaste new foods, helps them understand the importance ofminimising waste and gives ingredients a value, as they have

experienced the time and care that it has taken to grow them. Cooking activities don’t need a huge amount of expensive

equipment. You can begin by teaching basic skills thatencourage young children to use their hands to:•Peel (bananas, satsumas, spring onions, hardboiled eggs)•Tear (salad leaves, herbs)•Mix (salad leaves, dressings, muffins)•Portion (cheese, fillings, bread dough)•Sprinkle (herbs, pepper, cheese)•Arrange (threading fruit onto skewers)•Scoop (removing seeds from a melon or the soft inside of a

jacket potato)•Mash (potato, banana)•Roll (small pieces of dough)•Knead (bread dough).

As their manipulative skills and understanding develop, they

can progress to different equipment and to simple knife skillssuch as ‘bridge’ and ‘claw’.

You will find a range of recipes designed for teaching usingseasonal ingredients at www.foodforlife.org.uk/cookschool

Completing the circle

The final stage of the journey from field to fork is the foodthat you serve. Even if you are only providing snacks, bymaking sure they are freshly prepared and well sourced, youare not only looking after the children you care for but theenvironment around you.

Preparing fresh meals and snacks from unprocessed

ingredients means that you know exactly what is going intothem. Not only does this make it easier to create balanceddishes that meet nutritional guidelines, you can choseingredients that are sustainably sourced and produced.

Farm assured, RSPCA assured and organic meat reassuresyou that it is both traceable back to where it was producedand good for animal welfare. Not buying fish that is on theMarine Conservation Societies ‘Fish to Avoid’ list supports moresustainable fishing practices. Eggs that are from free range ororganic hens are better for animal welfare.

Menus that incorporate seasonal produce are not only agreat way to reduce food miles, but can make sourcing localproduce more affordable. Highlighting in-season produce onyour menus is also an easy way to give parents, carers andstaff ideas for seasonal dishes so that learning can be takenhome.


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Preparing fresh meals and snacks from unprocessed ingredients means that you knowexactly what is going into them. Not only does this make it easier to create balanceddishes that meet nutritional guidelines, you can chose ingredients that are sustainablysourced and produced.

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21Montessori International Summer 2016

Menus that show where the ingredients used have beenproduced show how the food you are serving connects to yourimmediate surroundings. You could feature them on displayboards, newsletters and even on your website. As well asreassuring parents about the provenance of ingredients, itoffers valuable support to local food producers.

The benefits of a whole setting approach to food

Adopting a whole setting approach to food has manybenefits. As well as providing children with an excellent start totheir food journey, you are supporting them to make valuableconnections between the food they eat and the world aroundthem. Food-based activities provide many ways to enrich thecurriculum and give you a valuable vehicle to build strongerrelations with parents, carers and the wider community. Finally,being able to demonstrate a whole setting approach to foodprovides evidence to Ofsted that you are supporting learners tokeep themselves healthy.

The Soil Association ‘Food for Life Early Years Award’programme provides schools and early years settings withexpert resources, support and guidance designed to help themdevelop a whole setting, ‘field to fork’ approach to food.Achieving the award demonstrates that settings are providingnutritious, freshly prepared meals made from well sourcedingredients and that food is enjoyed in an environment thatencourages healthy choices and good social skills. It allowsyou to show that children in your care learn to both cook andgrow food and become better connected with where their foodcomes from.

The Soil Association ‘Food for Life Catering Mark’ providesschool caterers with an independent verification that they areserving freshly prepared, nutritious and well sourced meals.Settings who are serving Catering Mark accredited mealsautomatically meet a quarter of the wider Food for Life Schoolsand Early Years awards.

In a recent national survey of parents of pre-school agechildren commissioned by Food for Life, over 80% said that theywould value independent accreditation of the food quality andfood education provided by their nursery with over half sayingthat it would be likely to make them select one setting overanother if all other things were equal.

To find out more about the Soil Association Food for LifeEarly Years Award go to www.foodforlife.org.uk/earlyyears, orfor more information on the Soil Association Food for LifeCatering Mark see www.soilassociation.org/catering.

For further information, please contact:

Jo Wild – Communications and Marketing Manager T: 07900 683 956 /0117 987 4590 E: [email protected]


Lorna Picton – Communications and Marketing Officer T: 0117 987 4587E: [email protected]

Twitter: @SAFoodforLife

Strawberry Wellies

If you have some old wellies lying around, don’t throwthem away. They are a fun container for growingstrawberries and lots of other plants in small spaces. Ask

parents and carers to bring in some old wellies from home ifthey have some they don’t need any more.

What you need:• Old wellies.• Gravel or stones.• Compost.• Strawberry plants (standard or alpine).


A brilliant storyto introducethis activitywith is TheLittle Mouse,The Red RipeStrawberry andThe Big HungryBear by Donand AudreyWood.

TIP: For extradrainage put afew holes inthe bottom ofthe wellies. Youcould also cuta couple ofextra slits into the sides of each welly to fit more plants in.

CAUTION: Some children have strawberry allergies andcome out in a red rash when they eat them

1. Put a few stones or some gravel in the foot of the welly fordrainage (it also helps the welly to keep standing byadding weight to the base).

2. Fill the welly with some potting compost, to just below youfirst slit (or the top). Pop a strawberry plant in, add somemore compost to the next slit, add another plant and soon, to about 3cm below the top of the welly. Finally, addyour last plant.

3. Sprinkle some gravel on top of the compost. This helps toreduce water loss in hot weather and stops compostspilling when it is watered. By finishing 3cm below the topyou allow space for watering.

4. Watch your wellies grow!

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Ihave increasingly been working to shift the paradigm ofthinking from learning about or in nature, to learning withnature and I have created a new range of approachesthat support this process, so that we can create a newconcept for education that embraces nature. In order to

support practitioners we need to open up our thinking torecognising the “river of nature pedagogy” (Warden 2015) thatruns underneath the many models of outdoor learning we findaround the world. By focussing our energies on connection andsimilarity rather than separating into separate silos of practice,we can make a positive change for children and families.

There is embedded knowledge that is already out there inthe minds of elders in the communities, and many worthwhilegroups that I advise such as Richard Louv and the Children andNature Network, the International School Grounds Associationor the World Forum Nature Action Collaborative. My researchand international work is currently focussed on two things:• The foundation of The International Association of Nature

Pedagogy. This charitable organisation links educatorsaround the world who are interested in the methods ofteaching with nature through all facets of their work insidebuildings, outside in the outdoor areas, but also beyond intothe wild spaces.

• The design and delivery of a new course in NaturePedagogy that explores how we can learn from theelements of the earth itself (Fire, Earth, Water and Air) tosupport children to be strong, sensitive adults who areaware of their relationship with the planet. Our children still have very varying experiences in their

educational settings throughout childhood. In my most recentpublication Learning with Nature: embedding outdoor practice(Sage 2015) I have suggested that the reason for this is theperception of the challenges, one of which is how you integrate(and therefore value) the experiences outside. Until now many

books give ideas of what to do outside, and yet they retain anarray of issues to consider. One is the relevance of theseexperiences to children. The second is that isolated momentsdo not necessarily take into account the learning journey ofprogression in thinking and understanding that learners are on.

When we look at embedding learning in a range of spaceswe do need to be aware of how the learning is presented andwhether it should look and be different in response to thatenvironment. The intentional use of wilder spaces, naturaloutdoor play spaces and then inside more traditional rooms isat the root of Nature Pedagogy (Warden 2015).

When we set up the charity Living Classrooms and AuchloneNature Kindergarten we started with the underlying values thatwould guide our work and generate large philosophicalquestions such as What is ‘nature’? Why does it matter to thewhole child? What is my place in nature? We then took thosevalues and threaded them through our operational systems tooffer play and learning experiences to children.

It is not always a case of trying to be the best because ‘thebest’ would be a benchmark set against somebody’s idea ofperfection. The reality is that we can be reflective, and effectivein what we do. All of the outdoor provision I have seen andexperienced has been on a large continuum, created by therelationship of the four features of time, resources, space andthe adult role. All theories have these elements; the nuanceand individuality of the approach is achieved through exploringthese features.

Consider these operational questions for your setting: Howmuch time will be spent outside? What resources will youprovide and how will they be presented to children? Where willthe experience take place? How will the adult shape andsupport the play? How will the learning experiences ‘move’across the physical boundaries of inside, outside and thespaces beyond the fences of our schools? The answers are

A Journey into Nature:international training in nature pedagogy“Nature pedagogy is my definition of a natural way of working with children that embracesnature. It is all encompassing from the educational environments we create, the process ofassessment and planning, through to the Learning Journeys that we encourage children andfamilies to take throughout childhood” Claire Warden (2012)

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explored within my work as the pedagogy or the ‘science ofteaching’ nature rather than any other type of outdoorexperience.

In order to consider progression in learning, we need tomove away from purely activity-driven experiences, to learningdispositions developed through inter-curricular experiencesfrom birth to 11 years old that create a guide for decisionmaking. When children have autonomy and ownership, theyhave a sense of empowerment that can be used to createlearning pathways through some of the now established toolssuch as Floorbooks® and Talking Tubs™ (Warden 1996). Theseauthentic experiences and observation strategies are anintegral part of ensuring that the voice of the child and thenatural world are valued and respected as effective teachingand learning aspects.

The new Nature Pedagogy course and the Associationexplores a value based approach to ‘being’ with the naturalworld. It is flexible, empowering and engaging to work with theadults who want to deepen their professional understanding ofhow we can engage with nature more fully.

When we look at embedding learning in arange of spaces we do need to be awareof how the learning is presented andwhether it should look and be different inresponse to that environment.

The course was first piloted successfully in the north east ofEngland and is about to be rolled out in full throughoutAustralia from March 2016, where the course has attractedsignificant interest, having sold out quickly in Melbourne andAdelaide. It is fed into a series of under- and post-graduatelevel courses that I have written for Universities and Collegesto support the professional recognition of being a naturepedagogue.

I am on a journey with nature, to try to make an impact onthe lives of children and families through supporting the adultsthat work with them. Every step we take, will take us closer tothat goal, so join us in a global movement to connect andlearn with nature.ReferencesWarden, C. (2006). Talking and Thinking Floorbooks: an approach toconsultation, observation, planning and assessment in children’slearning (rev. 3rd ed. 2015): Mindstretchers Ltd. Warden,C. (2012) Nature Kindergartens and Forest Schools,Mindstretchers LtdWarden, C. ( 2015). Learning with Nature – embedding outdoor practice.Sage.Claire Warden is an educational consultant with a focus on children’sconnection to the natural world. For more details of her work visitwww.mindstretchers.co.uk or call (+44) 1764 650 030.More about The International Association of Nature Pedagogy atwww.internationalnaturepedagogy.com

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Hardly a day passes without an article in the pressabout “getting children outdoors” and “tacklingobesity”. We are told in one survey that “87% ofparents would rather their children playedoutdoors than on the computer or watching TV”.

(Daily Telegraph 19.9.2012)The view that children need contact with nature on a daily

basis is championed by David Attenborough and HelenaChristensen and is shared by me and many others. It makessense that schools make the best use of their school grounds.This will give children a choice of free play outdoors as well asthe chance to encounter nature with an enthusiastic adult who isthere to explain it to them.

Holiday schemes such as those organised by the NationalTrust, Wildlife Trust, RSPB, and a host of other organisations arefantastic, but what children need as well as these opportunitiesin nature every day.

To this end, I have developed a series of nature-exploringworkshops for small children. I have spent the last five yearsworking in different nursery school settings with approximately96 children a week doing nature workshops. I’ve taken theexperience to primary schools too where we have rungardening workshops. A snapshot of activities is one wherechildren compare a variety of seeds, from the very large(walnuts) through medium (acorn) to very small (carrots). Manyof these children cannot name an acorn. That is anextraordinary fact that needs changing.

Workshops with children

In my workshops with the children I have a theme everyweek, depending on the season and the weather, and theseare often adapted to take account of how the children have

responded the week before. The children are encouraged touse their creativity.

I’d like to give you a good example of this: in the autumnterm some topics we covered were harvest, soil and rosehips.In our session about different soils, the children rolled andsquashed clay collected from a field and then added water tosee how it changed in appearance and texture.

They had the opportunity to get muddy if they wanted bypainting their hands with the wet clay and making hand printswith them on black paper.

Next up they were given a selection of natural objects that Ihad collected: rosehips and alder cones and I suggested thatthey design a sculpture using the clay as a base. William(aged 4) thought long and hard as he was looking at the rose

hips and decided to make a reindeer using a bright red rosehip for Rudolf’s nose. Each sculpture was very different, andthey were taken home to share with their parents.

Most of the activities I do with the children involve thiselement of creating and taking home. The children really likethis, but also it forms part of a discussion about what they havedone with me that morning.

For this particular lesson the ideal scenario would be thatthe children look in the field themselves for the clay and therosehips but not every setting has the luxury of this resource ontheir doorstep, nor the time to fit this in to a busy timetable.

Everybody can learn from

Gini Trower describes what happens in herdifferent nature workshops for children andteachers.

In my workshops with the children I have atheme every week, depending on theseason and the weather, and these areoften adapted to take account of how thechildren have responded the week before.The children are encouraged to use theircreativity.

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When the activity is complete I take all the left-over resourcesand use them in the next session. (Though I must say, I wouldmuch rather leave the materials at school so the children couldcontinue to use and explore them.)

It is amazing what a variety of uses can come from thesimplest of resources from nature. Take those rosehips, forinstance. We used them in a lesson to compare the propertiesof hard and soft. When the rose hips are soft you can squeezethe contents out of the case and it looks just like tomato purée.This in turn can be used as a red paint which the children hadthe option of using when we made poppies for RemembranceDay. Cutting them up with scissors, the children discovered thatthe contents are really quite sticky and glue-like and that inside

useful and interesting to all the teachers who have given uptheir weekend time to attend.

My mantra is doing rather than listening (just as it is with thechildren we work with). So in planning workshops for teachers,I reasoned that a short PowerPoint about how I got started isbest followed by activities that they could actually use with thechildren.

I choose a selection of nature topics (each lastingapproximately 20 minutes). Every topic is constructed roundobjects found and collected for the children outside. I keep aneye out for anything from nature that is interesting.

What sort of objects? I’ve earlier mentioned rosehips butmoss is another glorious example. I have collected moss of

are a whole mass of tiny yellow seeds. These seeds were usedto make the spots of a ladybird.

One of the thrills of working with this age group is that thechildren, so full of enthusiasm and interest, frequently give menew ideas. I too, am constantly learning: I must try out thatglue soon and make some rosehip syrup while I am at it.

Over the years I have collected many soft toys which I useto illustrate points. I am unlikely to be able to produce a livehedgehog or red squirrel but there are opportunities when I dotake live creatures in to show the children. There is greatexcitement when these appear. Timing the chicks and runnerducklings to be hatched at a suitable time to take to school isa real bonus, and there was an occasion when I took in amouse that I found in my green house.

Then there is the scary end of the spectrum – many childrenare frightened of spiders, even the tiny ones the size of a pinhead that might suddenly climb out of a teazel head that wehave been looking at. It is interesting how curiosity beats fear. Ihave showed them live American Signal Crayfish with theirlarge orange pincers and beady black eyes – this can bequite an experience for a 3 or 4 year old.

Workshops with teachers

During the last few years I have been asked to talk toMontessori teachers at schools all over the UK in order tointroduce my workshops. I have put together a morning that is

varying colours and textures, the rich emerald green is soexquisite that anyone would want to touch it especially a childwho may not have seen it before. Then there is the shaggycreeping moss that covers roof tiles and the tiny pin cushionmounds that you find on fences and walls. Lichen coveredtwigs are a good find with their fascinating variety of colourshapes and patterns on a single twig.

The items collected go into a box with its own lesson planand it is a selection of these boxes that get handed round theworkshop attendees, now divided into groups.

The teachers go through each box and follow the plan,encouraged by me to come up with any other ideas of how toextend them. These are all lesson plans that I have used manytimes over the years, not some made up theory which doesn’twork. If a lesson doesn’t work because it is too long orcomplicated for example, I will change it.

When the boxes have been explored we all get together toshare views and discuss the contents of the boxes; someingenious ideas come up every time. Then we look atresources that I have collected over the years.

Lastly we come to feedback. This is very useful to me and Ihave been given some wonderful compliments: “I feel veryinspired by your brilliant practical boxes, so many creativeideas, facts about wildlife …”

Continued on next page �

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I am passionate about nature and learning – in working inMontessori schools and studying conservation I have unitedthese loves. We live in uncertain times, seeing a decline inmany species and habitats. It is vital to create a futuregeneration that loves wildlife, and exploring nature on a dailybasis should be as necessary as being read a story.

If by doing nature workshops with young children I caninspire just one child in those 96, light a spark that willencourage them to be enthusiastic about nature for the rest oftheir life, then it will all be worthwhile.

I am a huge fan of Rachel Carson (1904-1964), a founder ofthe global environmental movement, so I conclude with herstirring words: “A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful,full of wonder and excitement. Many people lose that trueinstinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring beforeadulthood is reached .If I had a wish it would be that at birthall children be given a sense of wonder so indestructible that itwould last through that child’s entire life.”

August is coming to an end, and farmers will be gathering intheir harvests. If any readers would like me to run a harvestworkshop with your children please do get in touch:[email protected] or 07721 751910.

…and a few more words about outdoororganisations

There are many organisations that are doing their best toget children outdoors. Most people know of the great work of

Ma Ma ChongChinese Mandarin Resources

[email protected]

Early years & Primary LearningA fantastic new user-friendly Chinese Mandarin Learning Resource for Schools or After-School ClubsNo need to speak Mandarin to teach it33 excellent and engaging lesson plans, each with minimal preparation timeAll words spoken by a native speaker, to ensure the correct tone, and pronunciationThe course is designed especially for young, and primary school age children, using sight, sound, speech, exercises and games to challenge and engage every child.Colourful worksheets, interactive light consoles, classroom games, and pictorial flash cards, all designed to help children learn in a fun and natural way.

Ma Ma Chong aims to provide a complete and easily accessible learning resource to enable schools to provide this vibrant Modern Language

Montessori International Summer 2016

feature: learning from nature


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Montessori International Summer 2016 27

Forest Schools, the Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and many others soI thought it would be useful to mention a few that may not beso well known.

I am a member of The London Environmental Educators’Forum (LEEF; http://www.leef.org.uk/), which aims to improvethe quality, quantity and accessibility of environmentaleducation for Londoners. They address problems of urbangreen deprivation and develop citizens’ environmentalknowledge and skills to help them make informed choices and,ultimately, take positive action to support global efforts toreduce climate change, increase biodiversity and promotesustainable urban living. They help Londoners to experience,enjoy and take ownership of their environment and thechallenges of protecting and improving it.

They achieve these aims by providing support to theirmembers and allied professionals from across the community,schools, health, arts, heritage and charity sectors via specialisttraining, networking and advocacy services. Theseprofessionals work with a diverse range of audiences from pre-school age children, through school groups of all ages fromEYFS to A Level, families, young people, adults and seniorsgroups. Many run targeted programmes for harder-to-reachteenage groups, older adults, refugee groups, vulnerableadults, people with additional support needs and groups

If by doing nature workshops with youngchildren I can inspire just one child in those96, light a spark that will encourage themto be enthusiastic about nature for the restof their life, then it will all be worthwhile.

experiencing green deprivation through lack of access toquality green space due to real or perceived barriers. Theyestimate that supporting, and developing the skills of ourmembers enables us to improve outcomes for around 250,000Londoners per annum.

Jan White works nationally and abroad as an independentconsultant to advocate and support high quality outdoorprovision for services for children from birth to five. With 28years’ experience of working in education, she has developeda deep commitment to the consistently powerful effect of theoutdoors on young children. She is the author of Playing andLearning Outdoors: making provision for high qualityexperiences in the outdoor Environment (Routledge, 2008) andMaking a Mud Kitchen (Muddy Faces 2012), editor of OutdoorProvision in the Early Years (Sage, 2011) and she collaboratedwith Siren Films to make the training DVDs Babies Outdoors,Toddlers Outdoors and Two Year-olds Outdoors (Siren Films,2011).

Claire Warden of Mindstretchers is an educationalconsultant with an international reputation for pioneering workin education and a focus on children’s connection to thenatural world. For more information see her article in this issue.

The Wild Network is an organisation that wants to re-wildchildhood; their Project Wild Thing: (an excellent film) is onFacebook, @wearewildthing on Twitter and @thewildnetwork

Creative STAR Learning Ltd was established in 2007 byJuliet Robertson to provide Support, Training, Advice andResources on almost all aspects of outdoor learning and play.Juliet works behind the scenes supporting and developingoutdoor learning and play at a national, local and school levelmainly in Scotland. These can be small or large scale ventures,such as a half-day school visit to writing national outdoorlearning documents over several months. Juliet also worksthroughout the UK and internationally providing inspirationaltraining days: http://creativestarlearning.co.uk/contact/

Places to visit re the outdoors:Cambridge Centre for Curiosity and Imagination,http://www.cambridgecandi.org.uk Countryside Live hold a great day in London at theWalthamstow and Leyton Marshes, Lea Bridge Road, Leyton,London E10 7QL; the dates for 2016 are Saturday 24September and Sunday 25 September.

Books Nature’s Playground by Fiona Danks Billy’s Beetle by Mick Inkpen

Gini Trower has a Montessori Diploma and a degree in EnvironmentalConservation and is a member of LEEF (London Environmental EducationForum). She has worked with 3 to 5 year olds since the early eightiesand has run schools in London (the Square School in Holland Park),Hertfordshire (the Cuckoo Clock Montessori School) and Essex, Ugley(The Ugley Duckling Nursery school). She now runs Nature workshops innursery schools.

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Above: With grandma andgrandad

Opposite page: Early days

Left: Up the garden path

Below: That ever popularpastime – poking things with astick

In issue 104, which had the theme ‘Communication’, Iwrote about my maternal grandfather, and how wewould sit and talk in the greenhouse at the top of thegarden when I was very small. Working on this issuewith its theme of ‘Learning from nature’ I couldn’t help

thinking about him again and how, as we made our wayup the garden, we would see what we could find understones and among the plants.

William Gibbons married Ellen Ada Lester in 1907when they were both aged 24; he was a journeymanhorse collar maker, these collars being the part of aworking horse’s harness that goes around its neck andshoulders to distribute the load of whatever it is pulling.Working in this trade he was part of the long tradition of qualityleatherwork production in Walsall, my home town in the WestMidlands. Unusually, this tradition has survived into the presentday, to the extent that the town has more saddlers and leathergoods makers than anywhere else in northern Europe.1

Despite his age he served in thelater part of the First World War, wascaptured and imprisoned by theGermans, and in very poor healthwhen he was repatriated at the end ofthe war. Stout son of the Midlands thathe was he recovered his strength and afew years later his third child, mymother, was born.

My memory of him is of an old butstill vital man, marked by age and hiswartime experience, hands bent byarthritis, a face dominated by a hawk-likenose, and an essentially kind but certainly‘stands no nonsense’ nature (woe betideany child who made a racket when thefootball results were being read out on a

Saturday afternoon and hewas checking his poolscoupon). Sadly I have very

few specific memories of our time together in the garden andthe greenhouse, being as young as I was when we toddledthere, he because of his arthritic knees and me of coursebecause I was a toddler, hampered still further in winter by

being swaddled in very unstylish woollengear (as in the photos, though for your sakeand mine I’m not printing the summer photosof me bathing in a tin tub in the garden).The ‘memory’ comes from things my mothertold me when I was older – how she andher mother would watch from the kitchenwindow as we disappeared off up thegarden together, poking around here andthere to see what creatures we could find,and check on how the runner beans weredoing. On at least one occasion grandmasaid that she’d “love to know what theywere talking about” as they watched ussitting opposite each other just inside thegreenhouse.

One thing that has stuck in my mind


feature: learning from nature

Montessori International Summer 2016

... the importance of having an adult who was willing to sit and talk with a small child.And the trips to the garden were of course another aspect of that willingness – to taketime to explore nature together in the garden

Grandad Gibbons,or

A Portrait of the Editor as a Young Child

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29Montessori International Summer 2016

though is finding the earwignursery. The common or, indeed,garden earwig (Forficulaauricularia) is one of the few typesof insect that show parental care oftheir offspring: the female earwigguards her eggs and keeps thenewly-hatched nymphs together atleast until the time of their firstmoult. Of course, neither of us knewthat at the time; what we saw wasthe mother standing over her young,miniature pure white replicas ofherself. We looked on for a little while until she started to get alittle agitated at this unwelcome exposure to daylight, and wegently replaced the stone we had found her under.

When I last mentioned Grandad Gibbons it was in relationto the importance of having an adult who was willing to sit andtalk with a small child. And the trips to the garden were ofcourse another aspect of that willingness – to take time toexplore nature together in the garden, explaining about thebeans and potatoes growing there and enjoying seeingcreatures like baby earwigs and Garden Tiger moths. This was

undoubtedly the beginning of myinterest in insects and otherinvertebrates, something that wouldprobably never have come abouthad it not been for learning fromnature with members of the family.

* * *

Something that Grandad Gibbonsbrought back from the war was aCouvreux 23 French military foldingknife. The family story was that hehad swapped some bread for it

with a German soldier in the prison camp; I have no ideawhether that was true or another one of grandad’s jokey littlestories, but in its new life he used this knife around the garden. Istill have it, and though the blade is much worn down now I stilloccasionally use it in my own garden for jobs like cutting herbsfor the kitchen or thinning out the apples as they develop so thetree does not become overloaded.

1 “Walsall leather: where to buy the best”, 2016.

Read more at http://www.thefield.co.uk/country-house/luxury-country-house/walsall-leather-where-to-buy-the-best-30858#9uZXQf0ULOh7XEAg.99

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Ohashi counting

This idea from Carolyn Hadsell of DundeeMontessori in Nebraska makes a beautifulextension to the spindle box as part of aproject on Japan. File folder corners wereused to make the fans that open into pocketsincluding one to contain the chopsticks. Theseare then counted into the fans while the childcounts from 1 to 10 in Japanese.

For more ideas visitwww.inspiredmontessori.blogspot.co.uk

We’re all going on acreative nature hunt

Easy Arranger I love thesimplicity of thisproduct whichcould be aninterestingaddition to thepractical lifeshelves allowingchildren tocreate their ownbeautiful designs by arranging flowers. Thehand woven wire grids can be placed overthe top of any container, even a soufflé dish,ready for children to express their creativity.For ages 3 years upwards

www.montessoriservices.com $11.95.

Also available from www.amazon.co.uk andebay.

Silence in Nature Materials: Silence Board and threeminute one sand clock

“The benefits of silence are truly appreciatedand valued in a Montessori environment.When Montessori was describing the SilenceGame she wrote ‘Children are not onlysensitive to silence, but also to a voice whichcalls them … Out of that silence.’

“The Silence Game is a way to cultivatemindfulness in children through the ability togain awareness of the sounds surrounding



Montessori International Summer 2016

the beauty and art in nature with its lines,palette of colours, symmetry and shapes.Naturally picking up one of the metal insetsreinforced my daughter's shape knowledgeand helped us to hunt for small details wecould focus and fit into the frame. So insteadof colouring shapes with pencils we decidedto do it with nature. A picture is nevercomplete without a frame, it defines itsborders and limits, complements it. The metalinsets assisted us in creating art pieces withnature, composing it in different shapes.

“We also cut out different shapes such asa bird in this case to use as a frame to takeon our hunt and the camera that we usedwas simple a simple smartphone camerathat was tough and water resistant.”



These high quality wooden materialsdesigned for children aged 3 to 12originated from the ‘gifts’ of Friedrich Froebel,and have inspired the likes of Albert Einstein,Charles Eames, Frank Lloyd Wright, Paul Kleeand Piet Mondrian. I came across thematerials and company while perusing ablog called Living Montessori Now whereMontessori teacher Deb Chitwood hascreated a range of Montessori-inspiredextension activities for each curriculum areathat could be prepared using the Spielgabenmaterials. The materials come with inspirationcards, and interactive worksheets that couldbe used to create hands-on activities andprovide endless ideas for extending openended play.

The complete learning system costs £323.64;however, they offer the discounted price of£287.64 for schools who place an order. www.spielgaben.com www.livingmontessorinow.com

This activity by Anastasia, a Montessoriteacher and home schooler in Australiatransforms aspects of nature into works ofart. I love the fact that it works for everyseason – if you have a white Christmas, usea black piece of card and make frames fromthis instead.

“At the time we were learning about 2 -dimensional shapes, so we decided to usethe Montessori metal insets for our naturehunt. I encouraged my daughter to observe

Above: Coliseum from 'Inspiration Card' madewith Set #6. Below: Full set

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them and as an exercise in self-control. In theMontessori classroom children are shownhow to ‘create’ silence.

“As an individual shelf activity, we have abeautiful picture with the word silence writtenon it which the child at any time can take offthe shelf along with the sand clock. He or sheplaces it on a mat on the floor and sits insilence while watching sand grains fallthrough.

“It is astonishing the level of stress childrencan experience these days. I cultivate in mychild the habit of spending time beingmindful – appreciating the moment andobserving the world around her.

“As a part of our preschool home-schooling we take the Montessori classroomoutdoors once a week. This week we took aversion of the silence game outside byfinding a quiet natural outdoor setting thatwas perfect for sitting quietly without getting

distracted. I invited the child to look aroundand tell me what she could see, hear andfeel. Then I said that we are going to sitwithout making a sound and listen to thesounds around us for as long as it takes allthe sand grains to drop from top to thebottom. I also encouraged her to think ofsomething that helps her feel ‘happy’.

“It was a beautiful exercise and worked outbetter than I expected. Learning to be in themoment, appreciate what we’ve got andreflect on feelings – all this takes a lot ofconcentration and body awareness from ayoung child.”

Anastasia Rehbein, Montessori teacher andparent: www.montessorinature.com

Editor’s note: if any readers have a brightidea they would like to share, pleasecontact [email protected]

important social skills through teamwork andcreative problem solving and builds students'confidence in improvisation, composition andperformance. Each Pelangi and Symphonycomes with three song packs (each withenough parts for most class sizes) and there's

also an extensive onlineBambajam musiclibrary, with more songpacks, teachingresources, games and

backing tracks.The Bambajam Pelangi

and Symphony were finalistsin the 2016 Music Teacher

Awards for Excellence in the UK,and are available to buy online at

www.drumsforschools.co.uk. Drums for Schools are specialists in

inclusive Class Ensemble Teaching. We helpschools deliver a high quality musiceducation plus life skills, social and academicbenefits to each and every pupil, and we dothis by focussing on: •world music traditions that are accessible

and which engage all ability levels, culturalbackgrounds and age groups;

•Providing essential support and transferringexpertise to teachers.

For more information, please contact AnnaRuddick, [email protected]

Drums for Schools announce theaddition of the innovative newBambajam Pelangi and SymphonyKits to their inclusive Class EnsembleTeaching range.

The Bambajam approach is based onlearning by playing and provides a completeteaching and learning programme spanningEY, Primary and Secondary levels.

Richie Baxter, Senior Music Teacher atTanglin Trust International School, says: “It'san excellent teaching resource whichdevelops students performing and listeningskills. All the pieces have a greatrange of parts for manydifferent levels of ability. Afun and practical way ofteaching notation inthe classroom forjuniors and seniors.”

The multi-functionalPelangi enables childrenaged 2 to 12 years toconnect and developtogether through musical play. It can beplayed by one, two, three and four children ata time or be used for musical teamworkgames with up to 12 players.

The Symphony for Secondary pupils, is aunique three octave, three frame chromaticxylophone. As with the Pelangi, each key canbe removed and played as a singleinstrument. Keys can also be configured inany order on the frames so students maychoose only the notes needed for aparticular part, mode or arrangement.

As well as providing an unparalleledintroduction to keys and modes, theBambajam methodology helps develop

31Montessori International Summer 2016

The Bambajam Pelangi and Symphony - an innovativeapproach to music teaching that spans EY to KS4

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Montessori International Summer 2016

introduced Cubetto and invited heads fromlocal Montessori schools who were affiliatedto MSA to take part in a field study on thisinnovative new educational toy.

Research took place in three schools,Sunflower Montessori School, PeacocksMontessori School in Diss, and FoxgloveMontessori School in Stowmarket.

Cubetto was an instant success whenshown to several small groups of 4 year olds.It was fascinating to observe how thechildren concentrated for long periods oftime; all the groups were totally absorbed fornearly one hour in all settings whereresearch took place. Interestingly, with veryfew instructions the children quickly identifiedand categorised the commands of thedifferent coloured wooden instruction blocksthat are used to operate Cubetto’smovements, and every child was able tosuccessfully program their own sequence toachieve an end goal.

Much discussion took place between thechildren during their exploration of Cubetto. Itwas a delight to sit back, observe, and listento their laughter and the surprisingly calmand intelligent conversations that took placeas they shared this unique learningexperience together.

The plain wooden robot is programmed



wirelessly by the children by placingcoloured instruction blocks into holes on awooden interface board. Each colouredblock represents a specific direction ofmovement, left, right, or forward. The childrencan program Cubetto by inserting eithershort simple commands, or morecomplicated sequences of movement. Theycan plan ahead and predict routes forCubetto to travel across the floor, or on thegrid map that is provided with the play-set.The ability to freely program the robotencouraged the children’s individualdivergent thinking and creativity. AsBernadette Duffy aptly describes in her bookSupporting Creativity and Imagination in theEarly Years, “creative learning is aboutchildren taking control of the creativeprocess and owning it”.1

After briefly introducing Cubetto and theinterface board to the children, my presenceas an adult seemed quite superfluous and itwas wonderful to witness the children totallyengaged in “sustained shared thinking”2,working together in a real intellectualcapacity to solve problems, to clarify the newconcepts in their own minds, making jointdecisions, predicting outcomes, andextending their understanding of abstractideas. To see the children totally absorbed,and intrinsically motivated whilstmanipulating Cubetto was a very specialMontessori moment indeed.

The benefit of the design of the Cubetto inplain wood with just a few markings torepresent a face on the side of the cubemeans that the toy appeals to both sexes,and the children are not distracted by theappearance of the robot in anyway. Thisallows them to fully concentrate on following

Introducing ‘Cubetto’Melissa Stockdale gives an accountof the robot that helps kids learn tocode creatively and without limits

As an owner and head directress of aMontessori nursery school in Suffolk for 25years, our school invested quite large sums ofmoney on technological toys that professedto aid the children’s understanding ofprogrammable devices and serve as anintroduction to IT.

Although the brightly coloured, plastic, andoften noisy, distracting toys amused thechildren for a brief period of time, theintroduction of such items tended to disruptthe calm atmosphere and the generalpattern of the children’s normal work cyclewithin the Montessori classroom.

Through a lack of interest, neglect, or aloss of battery power the expensive objectswere then removed from the children’s reachby the frustrated teaching staff. They wereeither placed on a high shelf out of thechild’s reach, or kept in a box of similarrejected educational toys, which itself wasstored in the overflowing storage cupboardalongside yet more abandoned computertoys.

Providing these devices in addition to theMontessori materials did tick the box with theEYFS requirements, along with catering for aspecific area of learning in preparation forOfsted inspections. The presence of such ITarticles in the school environment alsoseemed to satisfy visiting professionals thatthe children in our care also had access totechnological programmable objects.However, the appeal of these toys to thechildren and the staff was limited and,ultimately, uninspiring.

Enter Cubetto. For those unfamiliar, Cubettois a brand-new, smart toy designed by PrimoToys, a passionate team of young Italiantechnicians and entrepreneurs. Beautifullycrafted and made of wood (no plastic orgarish colours here), this small robot andprogramming board has been designed toteach 3 to 6 year olds of any background,language or culture programming logicwithout the need for literacy. Importantly ithas no screen and so far it has proven to bea great hit with Montessori professionals andthe young children in a selection ofMontessori nursery schools in East Anglia.

Following an enthusiastic and inspiringworkshop led by Lynette Brock on‘Rediscovering Sensorial’ at an MSA Region11 (East Anglia) summer 2015 meeting atSunflower Montessori Nursery School, I

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Fostering development ofcitizens of the worldAs part of their learning theme ‘giving’, thechildren of Woodentots Montessori NatureNursery had a Christmas Collection at the endof last year, in which they gave donations ofnew and very good condition used toys, booksand clothes for the disadvantaged children ofCamden so they had something special toopen on Christmas day.

A huge amount was collected and thechildren worked hard, collaborating in thepreparing, wrapping and packing of boxes,whilst exercising their scissor, measuring,listening and critical thinking skills as theywent. Many comments were exchanged asthey worked, including “I want to give my bluemotorbike", "We need to take these to the post box for the elf to collect, so the children getthem on Christmas", and "They can't open them yet, they must wait until Christmas day".

The children decided together which items would be best liked for each age group – babies,children and older children – considering for the latter what they would need to feedthemselves with, such as pans, wooden spoons and cutlery.

The Mayor of Camden paid a visit with her son to meet and thank the children for theirgenerosity and the children carried the wrapped boxes of donated items to her car, so they

could be transporteddirectly to the receivingfamilies.

We are hoping to doanother collection this yearas it generally encouragesthe children to think ofothers, and with theyoungest – who were moreinterested in cutting andsticking – they will be ableto make links with their firstexperience and build on it.

Harriet Broadfoot ismanager of WoodentotsMontessori Nature Nursery

p.121. Open University Press: Berkshire.

2 Effective Provision of Pre-school Education(EPPE) (2003) Findings from the Pre-schoolPeriod: Summary of Findings. University ofLondon: London.

3 Montessori, M. (2007) The Absorbent Mind,p.228. Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company:Amsterdam.

Melissa Stockdale has been the owner ofMelton Lodge Montessori School and The ParkMontessori School in Suffolk, teaching for over25 years as well as lecturing and examiningstudents on the Early Childhood DiplomaCourse for MCI. She is now dedicating her timeto writing books. Following the attainment ofan MA in Development and EmergencyPractice, she is also hoping to engage inimproving educational opportunities, as wellas highlighting humanitarian issues in schoolsin Africa.

Montessori International Summer 2016 33

children in an enjoyable way – one thatdevelops their logical thinking in preparationfor becoming competent and successful ICTprogrammers of the future without the worriesof being exposed to a screen device.

MSA members and affiliated schools willbe able to order Cubetto for a special offerprice of £119.00 (the RRP being £159.00) bywriting to [email protected] quoting MSAMagazine.

Further information about Cubetto andother products can be found at:www.primotoys.com [email protected]


1 Duffy, B. (2006) (2nd ed.) SupportingCreativity and Imagination in the Early Years,

the actual movements that Cubetto makes.The simple wooden design alsocomplements the Sensorial materials that thechildren are already familiar with.

After each small move in any directionCubetto signals completion of the commandby quietly bleeping so the children can counteach move and refer to the interface boardto check that the movements that have beenmade match and follow the program thatthey have created. In a way this acts as thechild’s control of error and enables the childto check and adapt the programaccordingly. This aspect fits in so well withMontessori’s philosophy: “the child must seefor himself what he can do, and it isimportant to give him not only the means ofeducation but also to supply him withindicators which tell him his mistakes.” 3

Teaching staff will be pleased to hearhowever, that this product does not makeirritating unruly sounds that disrupt otherchildren who are concentrating on their owntasks within the same environment.

One 4 year boy with severe languagedelay and other learning difficulties carefullyobserved several of his classmatesprogramming Cubetto, whilst waitingpatiently for his turn. He then surprised hispeers and teachers as he calmly andpositively selected the required colouredblocks and then successfully programmedCubetto to follow a complicated route. It wasover whelming to see the look of jubilationand self-satisfaction on his face as his fellowclassmates acknowledged him andcongratulated him on his achievements. Thissudden increase in his self-esteem and self-confidence was remarkable, and he askedeagerly if he could repeat the exercise againand take Cubetto home with him.

Another 4 year old child at SunflowerMontessori School was able to completeseveral very complicated procedures, andafter working with Cubetto for nearly an hour,he excitedly exclaimed “Wow, this is fun!”Montessori reminds us that in this period ofthe ‘Absorbent Mind’, and particularly in this‘social embryonic stage’ between the ages of3 and 6 years, children can be deeplyengaged and have the ability to concentratefor long periods of time without becomingtired as long as their sensitive periods fordevelopment are being satisfied.

It seems that Primo Toys may havesucceeded in designing the ideal technologytoy, which will not only integrate perfectly intothe Montessori learning environment, but willalso meet the requirements in the variousareas of learning of the EYFS. Above allCubetto will satisfy and encourage young

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bookreviewsLet’s Garden: a step bystep introductionClara Lidström and Annakarin Nyberg.Illustrations by Katy Kimbell and LiSöderberg

Even as an adult Ican tap into theexcitement,freshness andenergy of theprojects and ideasincluded in thiscreative DIYgardening book forchildren. Howeverit’s the fact that it’svery much a bookwhich speaks directly to the child that makesit so appealing. Inspired by their ownchildren’s fascination with nature, ClaraNyberg and Annakarin Lidstrom created theactivities to encourage children “to beconfident and do things themselves”, withtheir ambition being that “grown-up’s shouldbe almost superfluous”. As a result, all of theactivities are designed with easy to followstep by step instructions, complemented byclear illustrations guiding and empoweringchildren through the process, including thosewho may find reading the text more of achallenge. There are only a couple ofactivities in which asking an adult for help isencouraged.

It’s a beautifully designed book, with an airof Scandinavian chic coming through,illustrated with a mix of whimsical drawingsand stunning photography.

The ten projects are fun and creative withlots of tips for extending the activities. Howabout creating funny figures with edible hairand giving them a haircut, making seedbombs and bird food from coconut fat andsomething a little more unique that I’m surewill rouse children’s curiosity – planting rabbitpoop beads. What will spring from the soil?

The authors are keen to inspire childrenwith the idea that there are lots of ediblethings in nature. Growing garlic and using itto make cream cheese, growing potatoes in a

bucket and planting tomatoes are all on themenu along with a visual guide and glossaryon a few edible plants with the proviso to aska parent or teacher to check the plantsbefore tasting.

The fact that the projects are designed insuch a way that you don’t need a gardenadds to the appeal of the book. Balconiesand window sills are said to work just as well.

I lent the book to my nine year old niece,Minna, to get her input, who wrote: “I thoughtthe book was “GREAT!!!! My favourite projectwas making heads you could eat from flowerpots and I found the instructions easy tounderstand. I think my friends would like thistoo.”

If you’re looking for something toencourage children away from the screenand to interact with the natural world, thiscomes highly recommended.

For ages 6 to 12


2016, 48pp., £12.50 Hardback

ISBN: 978-3-89955-747-3


Reviewed by Amanda Engelbach

I Am NOT a Dinosaur!Will Lach. Illustrated by Jonny Lambert

This book couldbe seen as abroadening ofperspective forthe dinosaur-obsessed 4 or 5year old.Illustrator JonnyLambert is a UK-based author andpaper engineer,

and his superb illustrations – constructed fromcoloured and patterned papers – introduce arange of prehistoric creatures, including ahominid.

After an introductory single page (“A long,long, long time ago, / strange beastsroamed Earth, both high and low, / fromhuge to tiny, sky to shore… / but – each wasnot a dinosaur!”) the double page spreadsare given over to different types of creatures,including the sabre-toothed tiger, Dimetrodon,Plesiosaur and Neanderthal man.

Will Lach’s short verses complement theillustrations and add to the fun of learningabout these creatures: “My wings are of skin– stretched finger to calf. / And my size it canvary – from wren to giraffe. / High in the skyabove T. rex I soar… / but – I am not adinosaur! / I am a pterosaur.”

Story of Life – EvolutionIllustrated by Katie Scott

This is anotherpublication in BigPicture Press’s‘Welcome to theMuseum’ series,which includesAnimalium(reviewed inissue 115, p.36)and has thesame illustrator,

Katie Scott. Both in her illustrations and theproduction values of the book itself, Story ofLife – Evolution is of the same excellentquality as Animalium.

This is a sort of ‘two-in-one’ publication: youcan either turn the concertinaed ‘pages’ oropen them out into a six foot long illustratedtimeline with text on the reverse. On bothpicture and text sides there is a narrow bandat the top containing the names of therelevant geological ages and their duration(e.g. Cambrian 541 – 485 million years ago).

The text presents a clear, succinct overviewof each period and a number ofrepresentative animals and plants, and alsomentions the mass extinctions that haveperiodically affected life on earth.

Katie Scott’s detailed and strikingly andsubtly coloured illustrations will provide agood basis for project work for children 5 to6 years old and above, either drawing ormodelling as part of research work on pastlife forms. My one minor criticism is thatnowhere is a sense of scale or relative sizesgiven, so that, for example, the CambrianBurgess Shale fossils Anomalocaris andOpabinia are illustrated as much the samesize, but in life Anomalocaris was 1m longwhilst Opabinia was around 10cm. Thequestion of scale could perhaps make part ofa lesson or be given as a research project,though an indication of actual size by eachillustration could perhaps have made relativesizes graspable ‘at a glance’.

Like the other ‘Welcome to the Museum’books, it is obvious with Story of Life –Evolution that a lot of effort has gone intomaking a publication that is a pleasure tohold and examine at the same time as itimparts knowledge and encourages curiosity,and is heartily recommended as such.

Big Picture Press

2015, £12.99 Hardback

ISBN: 978-1-78370-444-6


Reviewed by Philip Davies

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the complexities oflitigation and specialeducational needs. Bothauthors are from legalbackgrounds and theyspecialise in the field ofspecial educational needsand disability, resultingfrom personal experience.

Originally published forthe 1993 and 1996 Acts,the book gives clearguidance written from theperspective of a parent,

family member or adviser seeking to supporta child with individual needs. The major focusis to provide some self-help for children withindividual needs who maybe entitled tosupport from Education Health Care plans.

Clear guidance via a comparison of theprevious system to the current system is acentral theme of the book. This includesdetails as to how a statutory assessment foran EHC planworks; how theCode ofPractice worksand how thesystem providesfor parents whoare requestingan EHC planplus how tomake anappeal.

Each chaptersets out clearlythe legal parameters for areas such as:•A brief outline of the new system•Identification of children with special

educational needs•The position of Health and Social Care•The Code of Practice•The Duty to Deliver Education and Choice

of Schools•Practical Issues in relation to EHC Plans •Preparing a Case and Expert Evidence•The Right of Appeal and Mediation•Appeals and Tribunals•25 Common Problems

There is a rich array of information in theappendices, especially the exemplar expertreports, witness guidance for tribunalprocedures and regulations.

The layout clearly provides the corebackground and essential information tounderpin developing knowledge andexpertise by parents. It would also be usefulto students and practitioners from education,health, social care and other professionsworking with families to provide the best

outcomes for children and young people. The book is well written to provide clear

guidance, particularly on the ‘25 CommonProblems’. I would like to have seen bulletpoints addressing summaries of the key factsfor each chapter in order to aid practicalsignposting for the non-expert.

Jessica Kingsley Publishers

2015, 354pp., £14.99 pbk

ISBN: 978-1-849055-95-6


Reviewed by Kathryn Solly

Technicolour Treasure HuntPattern-tastic Treasure HuntNan Na Hvass and Sofie Hannibal

The authors are founders of theCopenhagen-based design studioHvass&Hannibal, and these two titles are thestudio’s first books for children. They arerobust board books with tabbed pages thatwill be good for 2 year olds, along with theirparents or teachers.

Technicolour Treasure Hunt uses simple,brightillustrations offlowers,vegetables andanimals oncolour-themeddouble pagespreads tointroduceidentifying andcounting. So, forexample, on thefirst two pageswe have “Can you find all of these redthings? 1 watermelon 2 toadstools 3tomatoes 4 ladybirds 5 maple leaves … “and so on.

Pattern-tasticTreasure Hunthas the samebasic approach,but its double-page spreadsare devoted topatterns (spotty,stripy, spiky,spiral, speckled,wavy) rather thancolours, andeach set ofpatterned things has an odd one out to spot.Thus we have “Can you name all of thesespiky things? Which thing is the odd one out?

Montessori International Summer 2016 35

One striking feature is that the eyes of thecreatures are expressive and engagingwithout being overly caricatured, which maywell draw in child readers, as will theappearance of young creatures in the case ofthe giant ground sloth, woolly mammoth andearly man (“’Caveman’ they call me, but let’sbe specific: / I take care of my family, and mytools are terrific! / I’m related to you, whichyou cannot ignore… / but – I am not adinosaur / I am a Neanderthal.”) Theinclusion of one of our fellow hominids helpsto introduce the idea that we modern humansare also part of the interdependent animalkingdom.

There is also some very good ‘extra’material at the end of the book: two pages ofillustrations of some creatures that weredinosaurs (and pointing out that theirdescendants are still with us in the form ofbirds); a page of text explaining whatdinosaurs were; three pages of thumbnailinformation on the featured creatures; and atwo page geological timeline from the LateDevonian to the present to illustrate thechronological relationship of all the animalsconcerned.

In short, this is an excellent and attractivebook that will be a valued addition to anyhome or nursery.

Reprinted with permission from SterlingChildren’s Books

2016, £10.99 hbk

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1491-4

Available at all good bookshops or online

Reviewed by Philip Davies

Special Needs And LegalEntitlement: the essentialguide to getting out of themaze.Melinda Nettleton and John Friel

This book is a disciplined read but one that isessential for anyone trying to make sense of Continued on next page �

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step ladder or a lantern.The author’s illustrations are commendably

clear and well-drawn, giving a good sense ofthe possibilities of the woodland activitiesyou can get the children involved in.Furthermore the book has a good stout hardcover that should help preserve it as it istaken around outside.

Hawthorn Press

2014, 115pp, £15.99 Hardback

ISBN: 978-1-907359-37-8


Reviewed by Philip Davies


The first section is “Choosing your wood”,which briefly introduces the reader/user tofour types of woodland – hazel, willow, birchand elder – illustrated by black-and-whitephotos and with notes on past uses of eachtype of wood and how to identify them and,with the exception of birch, how to coppicethem. This is followed by a selection of“useful knots and lashings”.

There are pages on creating things like ahazel mask, a night torch and a staff, andsections on making frames and simplestructures or fashioning a triangle, the lattergoing on to show how basic triangles can becombined to make things like a tetrahedral

one out? Spiky pineapples spiky icicles spikycactuses spiky sea urchins … spiral fossil … “.The final double-page spread has a selectionof different animals (and a few plants) fromthe preceding pages with the challenge“Can you name the thing you haven’t seenbefore?” (So that you’re not left in suspense Ican let you know that it’s the purple starfish.)

The illustrations throughout both books arecharming and bold, introducing youngchildren in a pleasing way to a wide rangeof things from the natural world, fromspeckled gemstones to spotty salamanders.And as a bonus their strong constructionmeans that they will be able to standrepeated use in either the nursery or homeenvironment.

Both titles:

Wide Eyed Editions

2016, [14pp], £9.99 Hardback


Technicolour Treasure Hunt 978-1-84780-744-1

Pattern-tastic Treasure Hunt 978-1-84780-743-4


Reviewed by Philip Davies

Making Woodland Crafts:using green sticks, rods,poles, beads and string.Book onePatrick Harrison

The author is an outdoor learning educatorand Forest School practitioner and trainer.His aim with this book is to provide somebasic knowledge and skills for both simpleand advanced woodland craft, and what hehas included comes from many hours“messing about in the woods”. He intends itfor “…anyone, of any age, with a modicum of

interest…”,and it willcertainlybe usefulfor bothparentsand theirchildrenandteachersand theirpupils.

Divided into sections that the authorintends to make the book as useful aspossible, he also provides an introduction, abrief note on how to use the book and a two-page spread illustrating some basic “usefultools”.

Montessori International Summer 201636

You might be thinkingI’m reviewing thisbook because it’s gotmy name in the title,but that’s not the caseat all.

This is in fact apersonalisedstorybook fromEnvironmental charityFriends of the Earthwhose specific purpose is helping children learn about the importance of bees. By loggingonto www.homelessbee.co.uk you can select an appropriate avatar and give him or her thename of the intended recipient.

The narrative, in rhyming couplets by David Greaves, begins when the bumblebee loses herhome when the flower meadow it is in is ploughed under for agricultural use. So she has to setoff to find a new home, and that’s when she meets (in this case) a little boy called Philip, whopromises to help her find somewhere new to live.

Their search includes several false starts that help to introduce some of the environmentaldifficulties that bees face, including agricultural monocultures, the heedless cutting ordestruction of hedgerows, pesticide residues and roadside littering. And then, as the sun issetting and all hope seems lost, they meet the “friendly farmer” of Bumble Farm who keeps a“meadow just for bees” (reflecting good agricultural practice). And here the bumblebee canfinally make her new home amongst the wildflowers and “the sound of happy bumblebees,and honey bees in hives”. On the final page the young reader will find three things he or shecan do to help bees: plant wildflowers, make a small drinking pond, and let some grass in thegarden grow long and wild.

Since my copy of The Homeless Bumblebee came into the Montessori International officetwo of my colleagues have told me that they know exactly the child this book would suit, andhave gone off with the log-in details. It’s worth noting that UK delivery is free, and all profits goto Friends of the Earth, who will use the money raised to create bee-friendly places all over the

country – an excellent little bookserving a very worthy cause,and entirely recommended.

Use code LOVEBEES to get10% offFriends of the Earth2015, [25pp], £16.99 Hardback,£12.99 Paperbackwww.homelessbee.co.uk

Reviewed by Philip Davies

Philip and the Homeless BumblebeeDavid Greaves. Illustrated by Danielle Callaghan

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confined and more at ease to talk. There areso many sensory experiences to talk about,discussions therefore flow and vocabulary isnaturally extended.

Playing games outdoors introduceschildren to a range of social skills, such ashow to co-operate, problem solve, followrules and work as a team. Children playing inthis way and exploring the outdoorenvironment are also able to be more active,as they have greater freedom to movearound in a variety of ways. Physical activity

in childhood is important for many reasonsand a variety of sources indicate a directrelationship between physical activity andchildren’s health. In early childhood physicalexercise helps build strong bones, musclestrength and lung capacity. The NHSguidelines say, children under five should notbe inactive for long periods, except whenthey're asleep. Physical exertion to get ourheart and lungs working hard is vital for ahealthy body. This can be easily achievedoutdoors through many fun activities such asrunning, skipping, climbing, digging andjumping. The physical effects children feeland experience on their body whilst

In answering this questionLauren Colvin details the“social and emotionalbenefits offered by theoutdoors”.

At the heart of every good educationalsetting should be the focus on the uniquechild, and working towards understandingand catering for this as effectively aspossible. The early years isa child’s introduction toeducation, it should be anenjoyable experience andnurture a love of learningthat they take with themthroughout life. Theexperiences andenvironment provided byearly years practitionersplays a crucial part instimulating children towards fostering a deepenjoyment and interest in their learning. Thebenefits of children spending time outsideare vast and proven across many areas. Itoffers children first hand experiences of lifeand growth; provides opportunities to exploretheir imagination and creativity, not to

mention the positive impact it has on theirfitness and physical development. Theoutdoors should therefore be seen as anatural extension to the classroom. It provideschildren with opportunities and a sense offreedom that cannot be re-created indoors.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) for0 to 5 year olds outlines seven areas oflearning and development. The seven areasare further broken down into three primeareas (Personal Social and EmotionalDevelopment, Communication and Language,and Physical Development), which lay thefoundations for children’s success in all otherareas of learning and life. Opportunitiesprovided in the outdoor environment make asignificant impact in supporting children

towards meetingthe differentmilestones of theirdevelopment inthese primeareas. Childrenseem to lose their

inhibitions andbecome confident in their abilities tocommunicate and express themselvesoutdoors, as restraints, such as using quiet‘indoor voices’ are lifted. I have observed shy

and quiet children become confident leadersoutside, asserting their ideas and thoughts,as they take on tasks and think of newgames. A child’s self-esteem impacts all oftheir development and learning; without itthey will not be at ease and have theconfidence to explore their environment, takepart in different activities or interact withothers. In the same respect children whodemonstrate challenging behaviour inside,can become more relaxed and responsiveoutside whilst exploring the freedom andspace offered. Where we work and playaffects all of our emotions. The natural senseof relaxation from being in the outdoorenvironment also encourages children’scommunication skills, as they feel less

Children learn first-hand about the world around them, such as plant and animal lifecycles, weather, seasons, growth and change. The seasonal changes that occur outdoorsentice children and instil a sense of wonder and intrigue...

Q. In many of the schools and nurseries I have recently visited as potential settings formy 3 years old son to attend, there seems to be a big focus on outdoor education andhow it supports children’s learning and development. What are the benefits of outdoorlearning and should this be one of the priorities catered for within Early Years education?



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Montessori International Summer 2016

exercising, leads to questioning and adeeper understanding about our health.

Playing outdoors also helps to developmotor functioning. Several studies show thatchildren who lack proficient motor skills oftenchoose not to participate in physical activitiesas they get older. In this sense exercisebreeds exercise: those who are moreconfident and capable in their motor skillswill be more inclined to engage in andembed physical activity into their lifestyle.Exercise impacts on the mind too and achild’s emotional health: when exercisingendorphins are released, giving an overallsense of wellbeing and relaxation. If childrenare happy, stimulated and feel good aboutthemselves and their environment, they willbecome engaged in their learning andconfident to explore and take on newchallenges. This in turn leads to a positiveand purposeful attitude towards learning.

The four specific areas of the EYFS areMaths, Literacy, Expressive Art and Designand Understanding of the World.Mathematical concepts in the Early Years arevery much based around practicalexperiences involving concrete objects andsensory exploration. The outdoor classroomcan cater for this in different ways, such ascounting out natural objects, measuring outdifferent volumes in water play, looking atshapes around us and using differentresources to build and make them. Literacycan also be supported, as experiencesoffered through the outdoors and sensoryengagement help with the comprehension ofand connection to stories. Children lovewriting letters in sand and with large paintbrushes and water on the ground. Markmaking doesn’t have to be restricted topaper and pencils. The freedom provided bythe outdoors further supports children’screativity and imagination. Children canmake up their own games, explore naturalobjects, make dens for creatures andthemselves and be inspired by nature andexpress themselves through painting onoutdoor easels. Children learn first-handabout the world around them, such as plantand animal life cycles, weather, seasons,growth and change. The seasonal changesthat occur outdoors entice children and instila sense of wonder and intrigue, as theyprovide such rich visual and sensorialexperiences.

The Characteristics of Effective Learningare part of the EYFS that describe children’sattitude towards learning and outline howthey learn as opposed to what they learn.

understanding and challenging themaccordingly.

Settings that prioritise the importance ofoutdoor learning will reflect this in a numberof ways, for example through themaintenance and attention given to theoutdoor area itself, gardening patches forgrowing herbs and vegetables, carefullythought-through outdoor resources such assand and water play and instrument walls.The teachers planning for the children shouldalso have many outdoor elements and ideasembedded within their plans. Some settingshave free flow to the outdoors, so childrenhave access to it throughout the whole day.You may even be lucky enough to comeacross a setting that has Forest School withinin its curriculum. Forest School is becomingvery popular and offers exciting andpurposeful outdoor experiences for children inideal outdoor surroundings.

Enjoyment and socialising are the greatestmotivation for children choosing to engage inactivities. I hope you’ll agree on reflectionthat the social and emotional benefits offeredby the outdoors, are the starting point of whatplaying and exploring outside has to offerchildren’s holisitc development and well-being. Children who enjoy physically activeplay, especially in natural environments, maybe laying the foundations for better healthand a longer life than sedentary children.Outdoor activity in early years setting isinfluenced by a number of factors, includingthe layout of the setting, ethos of staff and thelevel of encouragement they provide,opportunities for free flow play into theoutdoors, and the equipment provided. Thisnot only influences the amount of timechildren spend being active outdoors, butalso the quality of activity they engage in andtherefore the overall benefits.

They are split into three categories, Playingand Exploring, Active Learning and Creativeand Critical Thinking. There should be a veryevident focus on the priority of catering forthese characteristics in order to offer childrenrich experiences that support them. If positivelearning habits are formed in their earlyyears, children will be able to apply theselearning styles throughout their lives. In thebeginning of a child’s learning journey theylearn best through playing and exploring intheir environments. This learning style isnaturally supported through access to theoutdoor area. Understanding what somethingis is the foundation of learning. In order forchildren to develop a deeper more figurativeunderstanding, they need to be activelyinvolved in the process and givenopportunities to be able to apply thisknowledge to different situations. Theoutdoor environment offers a hands on andactive learning experience, as childrenengage their movements and senses. Oncechildren have acquired this deeper level ofunderstanding, their confidence needs to benurtured through appropriate challengesprovided that help to stagger their learning.These carefully thought through challenges,will enable children to begin thinking morecreatively and critically, follow their ownthoughts and ideas and make decisionsabout different ways to do things in order toachieve their own successes. Challenges inline with children’s interests and abilities canbe subtly provided in the outdoors and enticechildren towards engaging with them.Children will only develop resilience and theconfidence to take on new challenges if theirprevious experiences have been positive.Knowledge will therefore not come withoutself-esteem, it needs to be nurtured everystep of the way when building on a child’s

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My first introduction to Montessori occurredwhen I enrolled my son in a Montessorisetting in Zimbabwe. I was absolutelyimpressed by the style of teaching, and themain attraction was the fact that everythingboth physically and emotionally wascustomized solely for the purpose of the child.I then did some research and was fortunateto locate and register with Montessori CentreInternational UK. I began my three year EarlyChildhood Diploma studies in April 2013 as adistance learner online.

I found the literature to be extremelyenlightening and effective as all that I waslearning I could see unfold within my son.After completing the coursework, practicaland written exams, my husband wasrelocated to Kigali, Rwanda where I decidedto start my Teaching Practice.

Fortunately, I found a wonderful settingcalled The Earth School – The InternationalMontessori School of Rwanda, and wasgraciously accepted as a teaching practicestudent. The setting stands proudly two floorsup, nestled amidst the hills overlooking thebeautiful city of Kigali, with breathtakingviews. They run an individualized childprogram for children age 2 to 12.

On my first day, I was met by my mentorMiss Sophie, a qualified Montessori teacher. Ifelt a knot in my stomach entering theclassroom doors as the anxiety began togrow. Immediately the open space andbeautiful wooden furniture seemed to greetme; I was given a tour of the facilities andshowed where to place my belongings. MissSophie then handed me the school’s code ofconduct booklet and discussed the healthand safety as well as accident andcomplaints procedures. The informationseemed overwhelming, but I was quicklyreassured that I would have a written guideto refer to when needed. I then met the staffincluding the principal and my tutor MissHazel. I received a very warm welcome fromall and initially was asked to observe thedaily running of the setting and takes notes.This was a huge weight off my shoulders as I

that morning. Throughout the day it allseemed overwhelming to say the least,although I did not physically participate I feltexhausted. I then realized the importance ofthe teaching practice part to the diplomaprogram as nothing on paper orTutor/Student presentations could prepareyou for what actually occurs in a setting withchildren.

My initial days I found a little challengingtrying to familiarize myself with the dailyroutine and finding the appropriateresponses to give to children’s unexpectedstatements. Nevertheless, I was givensupport, encouragement and guidance by mymentor and other members of staff, and Iwatched and absorbed as much as I couldfrom my mentor over the next few days. As Istarted my teaching practice, Iunderestimated the capabilities of theprimary children; it took time for me todiscipline myself and hold back from helpingtoo much. I realized that I was preventingtheir growth in independence and as Istepped back I watched them grow more

was not quite ready to engage directly withthe daily tasks/routines which I wasunderstandably unfamiliar with.

As the children came in I observed manydifferent characters: some sleepy, someenergetic, others mellow with the majorityteary and few still clinging to their mothers. Iwatched the staff comfort and settle them allin. The staff was very consistent in allowingand encouraging the children to unpack theirbags and place them in their designatedareas. I quickly realized you had to be veryobservant, diplomatic and creative indistracting children who were clearlydistressed when time came to part from theircarers. One particular child stood behind thegate dancing and waving, blowing kisses tohis mother who he watched and expectedher to do the same as he bid her farewell. Itwas interesting to see that this ritual was hisway of comfortably bidding farewell. I thenrealized the meaning of children’s feelingbeing just as important as those of adults,and I compared my morning anxiety onentering the setting to theirs. I felt even morecompassion and comforted a few students


39Montessori International Summer 2016

Janice Yon gives a heartfeltaccount of the nerve-wrackingat first, but ultimatelyrewarding experience of herteaching practice

Miss Lauren, Elementary and Music Teacher (left); and Janice Yon, Primary Class Teacher

Teaching practice in Rwanda

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Opportunities for


For further information, go to:www.mci.montessori.org.uk/professional-development

MCI offers Professional DevelopmentCourses, Seminars and Workshops for:

• montessori educators • students• early years practitioners• childminders • parents and others

Essential training for Montessoripractitioners.

We also offer in-house seminars for MSAmember schools.

All professional development courses arelisted in the MCI Training Directory.

confident each day in their daily tasks likeputting on shoes and unpacking their bags. Ihad one student who eventually learnt to tiehis shoe laces after many attempts andpractice.

After observing two birthday celebrations,my mentor approached me and asked if Iwould like to head the next birthdaycelebration. I froze with fear but then realizedthat as we expected the children to “learn bydoing” I too had to face the task at hand,and so agreed to give it a go. I rememberedall I had observed and it went better than Ihad expected; I was thanked by the parentsand my mentor was more than pleased. Fromthis moment my confidence levels grew as Iknew I was capable.

It was interesting to observe all thedifferent age groups at play together. Iwatched in amazement how the Elementarychildren conversed with and almost‘mothered’ the toddlers. This worked so wellduring whole school events where theElementary children worked closely with theyounger children and helped them in creatingarts and crafts for holidays. They were sopatient and I noticed that some concepts

hindrance or restrictions, of course alwayshaving safety in mind and guiding from adistance only to gently place them back onthe path of their “natural development”.

Overall this has been one of the greatestexperiences in my life. The passion I have forteaching has only strengthened and beenconsolidated through this experience. Itstarted off difficult and challenging but astime went on it definitely got much easier.The most important lesson I have learnt isthat you have to be able to see the worldfrom a child’s perspective and this I feel iswhat defines a great teacher. Having time tosit and assess your own habits and behavioris key to facilitating your growth as a teacher.One thing that has been evident throughoutmy teaching practice is learning that thechildren need our guidance despite theirrebellion at times, and will model exactlywhat we do, how we behave and how wehandle every situation – good, bad, stressful,frightening or dangerous. As a teacher youconstantly have to walk on the desiredbehavior path in all aspects as the childrendepend on us to take the right steps in theirdevelopment.


practitioner’sreflectionContinued from previous page

Montessori International Summer 2016

teachers had tried to teach the younger oneswere easily grasped after having an olderchild explain it to them. It was almost as ifthe elder children were able to interpret theteachers’ instructions and convey this in amuch more understandable way. You couldsee the pride and joy of the responsibilitybestowed upon them to take the roles of‘teachers’ – they loved this.

It was very interesting how the childrendepended greatly on the consistency of thesetting. For example, if a material wasmoved or furniture set aside for cleaning,they immediately noticed and becameinquisitive as to “why” or “where is?” Initiallyas I arrived at the setting I thought I wouldbe the one to change children’s lives andmake an impact but was surprised thatduring my teaching practice I learnt so muchabout myself that I was not aware of. I myselfgrew emotionally and completely changedmy perspective on how I see children for whothey are. They should be allowed to bechildren – feel, grow, develop, explore andlive in the moment, and it is our role asadults to provide such an environment forthem to thrive in and do this without any

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“The world is crying out for inclusionary, healing,uniting influences … It is the education system … thatprovides the best, perhaps the only, hope of startingthe healing, inclusionary social process. The school oftoday and tomorrow must plant the seeds of caringso that underclasses do not become the victims of anideology of exclusion; must nurture the concept of anover-arching humanity in which … all occupy an equalplace in a process of permanent social inclusion. It isthe school, which must be the guardian of standards,must be the catalyst for human values.”(Manley in UNESCO, 1996, pp 66-67)

It has been stated that “early years providers servearguably the most vulnerable and impressionablemembers of society” (HM Government, 2015, p 10). In thisposition of immense responsibility, a vital part of our roleis to demonstrate and communicate a set of values that is

age-appropriate, relevant andmeaningful. In recent months, deepdivisions that exist in our society havebeen laid bare. Perhaps it is timely to re-examine our commitment to promotingvalues – or, for the purposes of thisdiscussion, ‘British values’ – in the earlyyears. How do Montessori educatorsframe these values in the context ofMontessori philosophy and practice?

First, a brief review of what is meantby promoting British values: underOfsted’s Common Inspection Framework(CIF) (Ofsted, 2015), inspectors judgeleaders’ “alertness to the potentialdangers of radicalisation and extremism”(PACEY 2015, p 11). As part of thisjudgement, schools and childcareproviders are required “to promote the

fundamental British values … of democracy, the rule of law,individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance for thoseof different faiths or beliefs”. Extremism is partly defined as afailure to promote these values.

Sector reaction to this requirement has been less thanpositive. Early years providers are well-positioned to evaluatehow a focus on ‘Britishness’ may -- or may not -- be helpful orrelevant to young children. While it is hard to deny that theseare values that we can all embrace, concerns about promotingthem as explicitly ‘British’ have inevitably been raised. BeatriceMerrick, chief executive of the British Association for EarlyChildhood Education (BAECE) remarked that “using suchlanguage is dangerous in implying we are morally superior toother nations and cultures. Surely that isn't the message wewant to teach our youngest children" (Merrick in Adams, 2014,unpaginated). Liz Bayram (in Morton 2014, unpaginated), chiefexecutive of the Professional Association for Childcare andEarly Years (PACEY), expressed concern that “we need to be

realistic about what is age-appropriatefor young children”. Neil Leitch, chiefexecutive of the Pre-School LearningAlliance (PLA), stressed that “life valuesare more important to develop for atwo-year old, not a limited view of cultureand life” (PLA, 2014, unpaginated).According to then-chief executive of4Children, Anne Longfield, “theprinciples of tolerance, sharing andrespect for others’ cultures are at theheart of all good nurseries and wewould be worried if any nursery wasn’tsupporting and promoting these values”(in Morton 2014, unpaginated).

Statutory guidance states that “thepromotion of British values will bereflected in the Early Years Foundation

feature: in the news

41Montessori International Summer 2016

Fundamental British valuesor universal human values?Julie Compton argues for essential values being taught as for all people everywhere

Julie Compton

"An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves the spiritualdevelopment of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparationof young people to understand the times in which they live." (Montessori, 1995, p 30)

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Stage (EYFS) and exemplified in an age-appropriate waythrough practice guidance” (DfE 2014b, pp 15-16). A guide toBritish values, published by PACEY (2015, p 12), endorses thisview: “actively promoting fundamental British values [is]already happening on a daily basis in early years settingsacross the country”. Despite such reassurances, providers areunderstandably keen to ensure that they know how to meet therequirement, not least because those who fail to do so “will notreceive funding from local authorities for the free early yearsentitlement” (HM Government, 2015, p 12).

Guidance includes “helpful examples” (Foundation Years,2015, p 1) of how British values are evident in aspects of theEYFS ‘Areas of Learning’ (DfE, 2014a). Under Personal, Socialand Emotional Development, ‘democracy’, ‘the rule of law’ and‘individual liberty’ are promoted when staff consult withchildren to create ground rules “for everyone” and children areprovided with opportunities for “turn-taking, sharing andcollaboration” (Foundation Years, 2015, p 1). In Understandingthe World, children are encouraged to develop a positive self-image and an acceptance of difference. Mutual tolerance andrespect can be fostered by placing the responsibility on

management and senior staff to “create an ethos of inclusivityand tolerance” (Foundation Years, 2015, p 2).

PACEY (2015) has drawn parallels between British valuesand “spiritual, moral, social and cultural development” (HMGovernment, 2015, p 10), a set of principles which has beenpromoted in schools since 2002 as part of citizenshipeducation for mainly older children. These principles echoMontessori’s aim for what she referred to as ‘cosmiceducation’ -- essentially citizenship education for our youngestcitizens -- in which children are encouraged “to think ofthemselves as ‘citizens of the world’” (MSA, 2012, p 33)”.Through this holistic approach, Montessori educators “sowseeds of knowledge” to engage the “natural wonder” of thechild (MCI, 2010, p 2). Emphasis is placed on encouraging thechild’s independent exploration of the natural world in a spiritof awe and wonder. Through this process of discovery,Montessori believed that the spirit of the child was nurtured togradually develop an understanding of the interconnectednessof all life. Through this approach, seeds of knowledge canbecome “seeds of caring” (Manley in UNESCO, 1996, p 66).

Montessori education has been described as “a value-system as well as a method” (Gettman, 2015, p 27). The key

‘cosmic’ principles of peace, harmony, respect, responsibilityand interdependence lie at the heart of this value-system inwhich the child is encouraged to “delve more deeply into thequestions that will help them know who they are, their purposein life, and how they are connected on a global level”(Haskins, 2009, p 28).

At this year’s MSA National Conference, educationconsultant Annie Davy emphasised the importance of helpingthe child to acquire a “sense of place” (MSA, 2016, p 7)through spontaneous encounters with nature. She referred tothe role of early years educators and parents in “illuminatingthe values of appreciation, kindness and connection … topeople, place and planet” (MSA, 2016), making links to thepromotion of British values. Echoes of Montessori’s ‘cosmic’approach resonated throughout Annie’s compellingpresentation. In guidance linking the Early Years FoundationStage (EYFS) (DfE, 2014a) to the Montessori curriculum, it isevident that these values embody key principles that havebeen at the heart of Montessori philosophy and practice sinceits inception.

The pursuit of democracy is prominent in the Montessoriclassroom; the child “shows empathy and kindness to others”and “takes turns when working in a group” (MSA, 2012, p 23).

Practitioners actively listen to children, parents and colleagues,respecting individual views whilst maintaining a cohesivecommunity spirit. Children are involved in decision-makingprocesses and vertical grouping aids mutually supportiverelationships.

In the Montessori classroom, the rule of law is representedthrough ground rules. The child “shows consideration, respectand understanding of behaviour for themselves, friends, peers,adults, the environment” (MSA, 2012, p 24). Grace andcourtesy is modelled through turn-taking, sharing, mutual co-operation, care of the environment, respect for personalspace, and non-interruption. Older children are encouraged toresolve conflicts peacefully. The youngest children are gentlyguided to build their understanding of their role in this mini-society through positive behaviour management anddevelopmentally-appropriate tasks.

The individual liberty of the child -- defined by O’ Donnell(2013, p 187) as “freedom to be active within an educationalframework of structure and discipline where each child hasrights” -- is a key Montessori principle. The child experiencesfreedom within the prepared environment to pursue individualinterests at their own pace as they learn to work independently


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Montessori International Summer 2016

Understanding the World is central to the Montessori curriculum. The child is“encouraged to respect diversity of cultures whilst recognising similarities andacknowledging shared needs”

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43Montessori International Summer 2016

and co-operatively. They are supported to develop a positiveself-image as they build their own unique identity.

Developing respect – for the self, for the classroommaterials, for others in the immediate environment, for thewider community, and for the planet -- is integral to Montessoriphilosophy and practice. In the Montessori classroom, the child“discusses and develops a growing awareness of others”(MSA, 2012, p 20). Acting in loco parentis, Montessoripractitioners develop an on-going relationship with familieswhich, over time, can deepen to one of mutual trust andrespect. Through strong partnership working, parents areinvited to become actively involved in their child’s learning anddevelopment, and to contribute to the life of the setting.

Understanding the World is central to the Montessoricurriculum. The child is “encouraged to respect diversity ofcultures whilst recognising similarities and acknowledgingshared needs” (MSA, 2012, p 33). Through a wide variety ofresources and activities, there are abundant opportunities tomove beyond mere ‘tolerance’ of others towards a positivecelebration of diversity.

Nussbaum (2009, p 1) refers to “responsible globalcitizenship … which will begin from the idea of equal respectfor all human beings … not just one’s own nation, buteverywhere in the world”. At a time when promoting unity andharmony in our communities is more important than ever, wemight conclude that framing a set of universal values under abanner of ‘Britishness’ is at best an unnecessary distraction. If

this is the case, might the term ‘universal human values’ betterserve and reflect more accurately the wide-ranging needs andperspectives of all children and families living in our multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-faith society?

It has been acknowledged that “critical and divergentperspectives, as well as the potential to have alternative anddifferent layers of identity, are a central part of whatcontemporary Britishness is” and that “British identity … may beexperienced differently by different people” (DfES, 2007,unpaginated). Osler and Starkey (2010, p 119) propose that“we reimagine the nation as cosmopolitan, and that wereconceptualise education for national citizenship so that itmeets more adequately the needs of contemporary nation-states and the global community”. In other words, nationalcitizenship and education for cosmopolitan citizenship neednot be mutually exclusive. Whether we promote values as‘universal’ or ‘British’, it would seem that Montessorians arewell-placed to meet the challenge of maintaining acosmopolitan outlook without losing sight of the unique identityof the individual child.

According to Haskins (2009, p 28), Montessorians “lead theway in educating for peace” and we are reminded of thisharmonious approach through Montessori’s own words: “thewhole of mankind is one and only one, one race, one classand one society” (Montessori, 1989, p 94). In her maidenspeech to Parliament, the late Jo Cox echoed this view when

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Montessori Centre International (MCI) (2010) Knowledge and Understandingof the World Module London: MCI

Montessori, M. (1989) The Child, Society and the World Oxford: ABC Clio Ltd.

Montessori, M. (1995) Education and Peace Oxford: ABC Clio Ltd.

Montessori Schools Association (MSA) (2012, 2nd edition) Guide to the EarlyYears Foundation Stage in Montessori Settings London: Montessori St.Nicholas

Morton, K. (2014) Nurseries must teach children “British Values” or lose theirfunding [online] Nursery World (08 August 2014) available from:http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/nursery-world/news/1145873/nurseries-teach-children-british-values-lose-funding (last accessed 10 January 2016)

Nussbaum, M.C. (2009) Education for Profit, Education for Freedom LiberalEducation Summer 2009, Vol. 95, No. 3

O’Donnell, M. (2013) Maria Montessori: A Critical Introduction to Key Themes& Debates London: Bloomsbury

Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted)(2015) The common inspection framework: education, skills and early years.[online] available from:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/common-inspection-framework-education-skills-and-early-years-from-september-2015 (last accessed 11January 2016)

Osler, A. and Starkey, H. (2010) Teachers and Human Rights EducationLondon: Institute of Education Press.

Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) (2015)Common Inspection Framework, British Values and You: A guide through thechanges to inspection due to the Common Inspection Framework

The Sunday Times (2016) Jo Cox 1974-2016 ‘Far more unites us than dividesus’ Extracts from Jo Cox’s maiden speech given on June 3, 2015. The SundayTimes June 17 2016 [online] available from:http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/far-more-unites-us-than-divides-us-zgxls8xpk(last accessed 3 July 2016)

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)1996 Learning: The Treasure Within - Report to UNESCO of the InternationalCommission on Education for the Twenty-first Century [online] available from:https://www.unesco.org/education/pdf/15_62.pdf

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) (1989)United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) [online]available from:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx (Accessed 3July 2016)

Julie Compton is a part-time lecturer at MCI London

she spoke passionately of her belief that “while we celebrateour diversity … we are far more united and have far more incommon with each other than things that divide us” (TheSunday Times, 2016, unpaginated). In this simple but powerfulmessage we are reminded of the universal principles that bindus and of our responsibility to pass these values on to ouryoungest citizens.


Adams, R. (2014) Childcare experts dismayed by plans to cut funding forchildcare that does not promote "fundamental British values" The Guardian,8 August 2014 [online] available from:http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/aug/08/childcare-funding-british-values-early-years-education (last accessed: 28 June 2016)

Department for Education (DfE) (2014a) Statutory Framework for the EarlyYears Foundation Stage: Setting the standards for learning, developmentand care for children from birth to five [online] available from:http://www.gov.uk/government/publications (last accessed: 10 January 2016)

Department for Education (DfE) (2014b) Early education and childcare:Statutory guidance for local authorities [online] available from:https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/351592/early_education_and_childcare_statutory_guidance_2014.pdf (lastaccessed: 13 January 2016)

Department for Education (DfE) (2015) The Prevent duty: Departmental advicefor schools and childcare providers [online] available from:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protecting-children-from-radicalisation-the-prevent-duty (last accessed: 10 January 2016)

Department for Education and Skills (DfES) (2007) Curriculum review: Diversityand citizenship (Ajegbo report) PPSLS/D35/0107/14. London: DfES

Foundation Years (2015) Fundamental British Values in the Early Years[online] available from:http://www.foundationyears.org.uk/files/2015/03/Fundamental_British_Values.pdf (last accessed: 13 January 2016)

Gettman, D. (2015) Values-based leadership: living Montessori values in theway you work Montessori International (July – September 2015)

Haskins, C. (2009) Exploring Spirituality through Writing Activities in theElementary Classroom Montessori Life (v21 n1 p28-34 2009)

HM Government (2015). Revised Prevent Duty Guidance: Guidance forspecified authorities in England and Wales on the duty in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 to have due regard to the need to preventpeople from being drawn into terrorism. [online] available from:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prevent-duty-guidance (lastaccessed: 10 January 2016)

Philando Castile

With the shocking news that a loved and respected worker in an AmericanMontessori nursery was one of the victims of police shootings the UKMontessori community – through Montessori International magazine – wishes toexpress their sympathy and solidarity with his family and colleagues at thenursery.

Philando was the nutrition services supervisor at the J. J. Hill MontessoriMagnet School in Minnesota. The school became an international peace site inOctober 1992, and on their website they describe how they “…celebrate peacewith a special day each year. Each classroom develops an activity, apresentation, or a play to illustrate a specific theme for that year. The themerelates in some way to the overarching goal of peace.” Let us all hope that theirmessage of peace reaches a wider audience in memory of Philando.

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classroom willbe difficult.Overhearinghelps buildvocabularyand giveschildren a sense of grammar, as well asgeneral knowledge. Children need to beable to hear quiet conversation all aroundthem, even though they are not payingattention to it. Signs of mild hearing lossinclude:• Delayed speech• Mishearing and mispronouncing words• Not hearing what’s going on if there is

background noise• Problems with concentrating and tiredness

and frustration that affects behaviour• Preferring to play alone• Difficulties with reading and learning• Wanting the volume of the TV higher than

other members of the familyHere to Learn is a resource for mainstream

school staff who have little or no experienceof working with hearing-impaired children. Itgives tips on good communicationapproaches, reducing background noise,positioning, good acoustics, adaptingresources, group work and protectingchildren’s social and emotional development.

Find out more about Here to Learn at:http://www.ndcs.org.uk/professional_support/our_resources/here_to_learn/index.html

The National Deaf Children’s Society(NDCS) have also produced a booklet andshort on-line video which describe the impacta mild hearing loss has on a child at school.It outlines what teachers can do to makesure children hear as well as possible.

Find out more about childhood hearing loss at:http://www.ndcs.org.uk/family_support/childhood_deafness/understanding_childhood_deafness/index.html

Membership of the NDCS is free. Find out moreabout resources for children, their families andteachers at: http://www.ndcs.org.uk/

A Public Health Approach toPromoting Young People’sResilience

Young peopleoften face awide range of challenges, from movingschools to family breakdown to bullying. Thisresource has been developed by the

Association for YoungPeople’s Health withinput from the Early

Intervention Foundation, and provides a newfocus on public health approaches tosupporting young people’s resilience. Buildingresilience can support better life outcomes foryoung people whatever challenges they face.Download the pdf at:


Breaking the Cycle of Offending

St Giles Trustworks withvulnerableand disadvantaged children and familieswho have fallen through society’s safety net.Many of them have one family memberinvolved in the criminal justice system in some

way – such as aparent in prison – withthose left on theoutside struggling tocope. St Giles Trustworks with the wholefamily to help themovercome any barriersand move towardsindependence.Preventative work withchildren and families

is also a key feature of the trust’s work in theSOS Gangs Project and Choices Programme:• SOS Project: Gang involvement by one

young person can have effects on the restof their family. Sometimes problems withina family need to be addressed to help theyoung person leave crime. Support to thewider family can help with issues whichmight be putting other family members atrisk from gang involvement or reprisals.Work around family mediation, resolvingconflicts and practical support –particularly with housing difficulties – is alarge feature of this work.

• Choices Programme: This programmeworks with disadvantaged young peoplenot in the criminal justice system, but at riskof becoming so. The aim is to prevent themfrom progressing down a path of crimethrough support to boost their skills,confidence and employability, andultimately to find work.

Disabled Children: A LegalHandbook, 2nd edition

Each chapter of this authoritative andaccessible guide to the legal rights ofdisabled children and their families inEngland and Wales is now free to downloadfrom the Council for Disabled Children’swebsite at:


Autism Trainingfor Every Teacher

More than 1 in 100children in the UK havean autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). With thegovernment currently reviewing the InitialTeacher Training (ITT) framework, a campaignfor every teacher to have training to supportchildren with an ASD is gathering pace. TheDepartment for Education (DfE) has alreadyfunded the development of autism training formainstream schools through the AutismEducation Trust. The National Autistic Society

has joined forceswith AmbitiousAbout Autism to

get autism training for every new teacher.They suggest this training could easily beadapted for Initial Teacher Training.

Find out more about the campaign at:www.autism.org.uk/

Mild Hearing Loss MajorImpact: Information forTeachers

Mild hearingloss can beoverlooked. Alack ofunderstandingabout the impact on children’s everydayliving and learning can result from amisconception that mild hearing loss is not aserious condition.

Mild deafness sounds similar to wearingearplugs. A child with mild deafness willoften hear one-to-one conversation in a quietplace quite well, but hearing in a busy

Education & Special Needs and Disabilities Update

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Website for Young People withDyspraxia

The DyspraxiaFoundation Youthwebsite is now live.Aimed at 13 to 25 year olds with dyspraxia,the website provides advice, support andlinks to information, organisations andresources.


Are you ready for the changesto the 2017 JCQ Regulations?

The Professional Associationfor Teachers of Students withSpecific Learning Difficulties(Patoss) is offering a new postgraduatecourse and an equivalent to Level 7qualification meeting the Joint Council forQualifications (JCQ) requirements for AccessArrangements Assessor Training. It enablessuccessful graduates to carry outassessments for access arrangements inGCSE and GCE qualifications. For moreinformation:

handles appeals against discrimination byschools or local authorities due to a child’sdisability.

The First Tier Tribunal website has forms andfurther guidance, procedure rules and thecomplaints procedure:https://www.gov.uk/courts-tribunals/first-tier-tribunal-special-educational-needs-and-disability

Child’s Play – All AboutCliveA new series of books from Child’s Playcelebrates diversity and challenges genderstereotypes. Four colourful board booksabout Clive focus on each one of hispassions – art, hats, bags and babies.




Special Educational Needs andDisabilities: First Tier Tribunal

The First Tier Tribunal is responsible forhandling appeals against local authoritydecisions regarding special educationalneeds, including a refusal to:• assess a child’s educational, health and

care (EHC) needs• make a statement of their special

educational needs• assess their special educational needs• create an EHC plan• change what’s in a child’s special

educational needs statement or EHC plan• maintain the statement or EHC plan

The First Tier Tribunal also handlesappeals against decisions to refuse peopleunder 18 in custody:• an EHC assessment• an EHC plan after assessment• a placement to a suitable school or other

institution after their releaseIn addition, the First Tier Tribunal also

Montessori International Summer 2016

MCI regularly hosts OPEN EVENTS to provide furtherinformation on their range of Montessori courses.

Email: [email protected] or telephone: 020 7493 8300


Certificate in HigherEducationMontessori Early Childhood Practice• Level 4 qualification in one

year full-time

• Meets the Early Years Educator criteria

• Combine college study with professional placement in Montessori setting

• 120 University credits

Next course starts




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John Clarkson reports

Montessorians don’t always agree abouteverything but one of the many things we areall agreed on is that rewards don’t work.Back in the summer of 2011, Research Watchfeatured some research, mainly from the USA,in the field of healthcare which reflected theinefficacy of rewards in that area. Now amajor study from the universities of York andManchester in the UK and Michigan in theUSA have shown that the £1 billion a yearQuality and Outcomes Framework (QOF)healthcare programme has had nosignificant effect over the rates of mortality inthe UK. The authors checked the death ratesfrom 1994 (10 years before QOF started) upto 2010 from the UK and 26 other countries

with comparable health care systems andfound that not only had mortality rates for thetargeted diseases (e.g. diabetes, cancer andheart disease) been unaffected but rates hadactually risen in other diseases which werenot targeted. The authors comment,remarkably mildly, “Our findings haveimplications for the probable effects ofsimilar programmes.” Surely there is also alesson here for educationalists. Too manymainstream teachers are totally wedded torewards as a means of motivating children.There is a better way. Quite apart from allthe ethical considerations, rewards are such awaste of money.

Early start not a good idea

We are also all very much agreed that theearly start to schooling in the UK is not in thechildren’s best interests. Those of us whohave been fortunate enough to visitMontessori nurseries abroad, where theyoften have the full three year age span, areparticularly aware of this. It is fairly well-established now (e.g. by the PISAcomparisons) that children who start latecatch up quickly and are not disadvantaged.Now a new study, commissioned by theNational Bureau of Economic Research inCambridge MA in the USA (Dee andSieversten, 2015) has shown that, based ondata from Denmark where children typically

Development – based on 2,055 parents’responses – she found (Pagani andFitxpatrick, 2015) that children exposed tohousehold smoke showed less classroomengagement, which involves task-orientation,the ability to follow instructions and workingboth autonomously and with others. This maywell be linked to earlier work in which sheshowed that passive smoking tended toheighten aggressive behaviour, and ispresumably linked to less well developedexecutive functions, which this column hasrepeatedly linked to normalisation and otherpositive outcomes.

And, a final note: I’ve always maintainedthat children need to be outside gettingmucky – there’s nothing like a bit of goodclean dirt. Dr Maya Shetreat-Klein, a lecturer

in integrative medicine at the University ofArizona, has just published a book (Shetreat-Klein, 2016) in which she cites a lot of thescientific research which backs this up.


Dee, T.S. & Sievertsen, H.H. (2015). The Gift ofTime? School starting age and mental health.NBER working paper 21610, doi:10.3386/w21610.

Luby, J.L. et al. (2016). Preschool is a sensitiveperiod for the influence of maternal support onthe trajectory of hippocampal development.Proc. Nat. Acad. Sc. Early Edition accessiblefrom www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1601443113

Pagani, L. et al. (2015). Prospectiveassociations between early long-termhousehold tobacco smoke exposure andsubsequent indicators of metabolic risk at age10. Nicotine & Tobacco Research (OxfordJournals) doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntv 128.

Pagani, L. & Fitzpatrick, C. (2015). Earlychildhood household smoke exposure predictsless task-orientated classroom behaviour atage 10. Health Education & Behaviour doi:10.1177/1090198115614317

Ryan, A.M. et al. (2016). Long-term evidencefor the effect of pay-for-performance in primarycare on mortality in the UK: a population study.The Lancet (in press) published online doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/50149-6736(16)00276-2.-

Shetreat-Klein, M. (2016) Healthy Food, HealthyGut, Happy Child. Canterbury; Bluebell Press

enrol in school as rising-sixes, that a one-yeardelay in starting reduced inattention (andhyperactivity) and that this effect persisteduntil at least the age of eleven. The authorsdescribe this as a ‘dramatic’ effect, andwhilst there were other effects they were lessclear-cut and less persistent. Inattentivenessis, of course, the antithesis of concentrationand it was this that Montessori identified asthe crucial factor in developing what shecalled ‘normalisation’ or the process ofgetting a child back onto the inner trajectoryof ideal development.

Parental behaviour

Montessori was a pioneer in involvingparents in their children’s early education.Until her time, and her work on how children

are deviated from their ideal pathway, it wasnot appreciated how much damage parentscould unwittingly do to their children’sdevelopment. Research is steadily mountingabout the importance of parental behaviourto children’s early development. Two morestudies have recently been published. JoanLuby, a child psychiatrist at the St LouisChildren’s Hospital, Washington University,followed a group of 127 children for nearly10 years. She and her colleagues found thatinfants with motherly love and nurturing haddouble the growth of the hippocampus thanthose who didn’t. The hippocampus (namedfor its supposed resemblance to a sea-horse)is a small organ in the centre of the brainwhich is critical in the conversion of short-terminto long-term memory (i.e. learning) andalso the sense of balance. Critically shefound that this sensitivity died back after theage of six so love and support have beenfound to be essential in yet another field, andis reflected in actual brain development.

In the second study, Linda Pagani (aprofessor at the École de psychoéducation,Université de Montreal) and her colleagues,following up an earlier study (Pagani, 2015)which showed that passive smoking – i.e.from parents smoking in the house – raisedthe risk of obesity, have now shown thatlearning is also affected. Using the data fromthe Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child


47Montessori International Summer 2016

Rewards, catching up and parental involvement

Montessori, of course, was fully aware of the importance of parents and she pioneeredthe involvement of them in the educational process. Nothing in these studies contradictsher stance; indeed, they reinforce just how crucial good parenting practices are.

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The influence of the pioneers

The history of nature and outdoor play started long ago withComenius (1592-1670). He was the originator of the concept of’natural education.’ This concept was then built upon byRousseau (1712-78) who created the image of the ‘free child’in his work Emile.

Pestalozzi (1746-1827) gave us ‘education according tonature’. He recognized that all children thrive outdoors wheretheir minds and bodies develop best through play and realexperiences. He greatly influenced Froebel (1782-1852) whocreated the first kindergarten and the concept of first-handexperience.

Later still, Steiner (1861-1925) fostered social developmentthrough the rhythm of the day, farming and the seasons. Theethos of children feeling part of a natural cycle of the year andthe importance of having a responsibility to the world by beingembedded in it come from his work.

In Britain the work of Margaret McMillan (1860-1931) andher sister Rachel fostered nature and wellbeing via the nurserygarden, particularly for young children living in poverty.

The strong links between being outside with nature as arelationship has developed from using the ‘hands, heart andhead’ approach favoured by Sir Patrick Geddes (1854-1932),the Scottish town planner who gave Edinburgh so many of itswonderful nursery school and tenement gardens via hisphilosophy that nature will be available for first handinspection and thus for education.

More recently Dr Susan Isaacs (1885-1948) fostered naturalcuriosity, children’s relationship with nature and learning in thereal world around them leading to them learning via discovery,reasoning and thinking through exploration.

by Kathryn Solly


The world is full ofexpectation andpossibility for youngchildren from themoment they are born.Babies have an immensedrive to learn, whatevertheir abilities, and arepre-programmed not togive up on the difficultdevelopmentalchallenges of learning tosmile, sit, crawl, stand upand so on. Children born

with individual needs and/or disabilities need to go outsideand experience nature even more than their peers toexperience the reality of it. However, increasingly as youngerand younger children are placed in childcare for longer hoursand others go to school at earlier ages and stages than everbefore we need to consider the importance of a naturalbalance, and experience outdoors as well as inside for allchildren – but this is often disregarded when they are seen as‘special’. Many practitioners and teachers have also grown upwithout the rich experience of nature and outdoor playthemselves. Their life inexperience and, sometimes, ineffectivetraining can be difficult to change or alter as they themselvesare resistant to going outside as they see it as hard to manageas well as cold, wet and inhospitable.

There is a clear benefit of nature for children with special needs in that they go at theirown pace outside and find “things” to play with and learn from.

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Put the pencil down andgo outside– the importance of nature in the early years

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Risk aversion:

The other major influence are risk-averse families andpractitioners who whilst naturally wishing to protect childrenfrom harm choose to over-protect them so they will not learnessential life skills such as assessing risk and hazards. Byallowing them to take “considered risks” like walking across alog over a shallow stream or climbing to the next branch of atree can have numerous benefits for all children, not leasthelping their sense of balance and confidence in their ownabilities. Thankfully children are pre-programmed to take risksand children are often more capable than we give them creditfor and so rather than stifling their sense of adventure, outdoorplay in nature can actually help to develop it.

There is a great deal of research and evidence from variedsources, which demonstrates the importance of children beingoutdoors and learning about risk benefits. These include:Tovey (2007) takes the view that risk is a natural part of life:“bumps, bruises, tumbles and falls are part of learning and wemust not succumb to overwhelming anxiety or recklessness.”Gill (2007) in ‘No Fear; Growing Up in a Risk Adverse Society’notes that children naturally seek risk and challenge as an“essential part of living a meaningful and satisfying life”.Finally, Judith Hackett: Chief Executive of the Health and SafetyExecutive (2015) who has insisted that children should not bewrapped up in cotton wool leading to them becoming ‘risknaïve’ later in life. She insists that risk avoidance has comefrom well meaning butover zealous teacherswho havemisinterpreted the H&Sguidelines. She alsoblamed thecompensation culture ofblame. She said:‘Children should beable to play, fall overand hurt themselves.’

The interplay of learning and experience between thenatural world and risky play is complex but there are certaincategories of risky play which attract children worldwide asEllen Sandseter, (2011) a Norwegian Professor has identified:• Height • Speed• Tools • Elements• Rough and tumble • Hiding and privacy.

Clearly an appropriately challenging nature garden couldachieve these and provide for a range of locomotordevelopment carefully tailored with the addition of a fewresources such as wheeled vehicles, gardening tools, ropes,ladders, dens, plus basic materials including sand, water andmud alongside nature walks, forest school experience andsimilar opportunities.

The children’s garden and Froebel

It is interesting to note that in 1839 when Froebel wasestablishing his training programme for teachers atBlankenberg, Germany, he stipulated that those attendingshould be ‘mature and knowledgeable’. Froebel expectedthem to ‘observe children throughout the four seasons’. Fromhis nearby school in Keilhau weekly nature walks wereencouraged as so much could be taught during them. Froebelwas focussed upon nature as being central to a child’sexperience of the ‘unity of all things’ emphasising ourconnectedness to the world we live in and the learner’s activeparticipation as the agent for learning. Similarly Montessorialso emphasised the need for children to interact with nature.She felt that access to the outdoors should be an extension tothe classroom.

Nature benefits to young children today

Children are oftenreally fascinated bynature and naturalthings. Consider atoddler handlingpebbles, leaves,shells and sticks –the engagement anddeep fascination withthe objects are

powerful because of their variety of properties, which differ soradically from the more standardized play items found indoors.Our children of today are becoming more and more distantfrom nature, and it is inherent in this technological age that ourchildren are spending less time outdoors. How can childrenthen learn to love and respect something that they have littleor no relationship with?

There is a clear benefit of nature for children with specialneeds in that they go at their own pace outside and find“things” to play with and learn from. Through experientialexperience they learn to use their imagination more,developing their thinking and problem-solving skills in adevelopmentally appropriate manner led by their own interestsand drive. Such core experience as being cooler, feeling rain,snow and sun on your skin are so important.

As pressure on space increases particularly in urban areas,the freedom to play outside has also declined. Homes havebecome smaller and many children have no access to agarden to play in. Parents are increasingly busy with work andthus choose to play indoors with their children at the end of along day. They can also structure children’s time in ways thatleave little scope for discovery outside in their desire to lookafter their ‘special’ child. The demands of modern life alsomean they are transported by cars and buggies and are farless likely to interact with nature. Continued on next page �

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high energy boisterousplay is not for all childrenand the use of plants cancreate sheltered calmerplaces for stimulatingdifferent kinds of playalongside experiences ofgrowing plants, andhands-on often intimateexperience of wildlife, aweand wonder. Growing isan area of greatfascination for childrenand offers muchexperience of ‘learning by doing’ alongside physical activity,collaboration, talk, healthy eating and the foundation oflifelong positive attitudes. The provision of a variety of seeds,water, containers, soil or peat-free compost, simple tools andprotective clothing including child-sized gloves are essential.Growing beans, potatoes or herbs, wildflowers or floweringannuals are all relatively easy and very satisfying.

The importance of knowledgeable and enthusiasticpractitioners is of course crucial to both providing, adaptingand unlocking the potential of outdoors. Nature offers richstimuli and the chance to be inquisitive, exploratory,adventurous, innovative and messy in ways never feasibleindoors. Even the most disabled child, in my experience gainsa real experience from being outdoors. Practitioners whounderstand this and who value and enjoy nature themselveswill enable children to make best use of nature by followingchild-led learning.

Those all important relationships and creativity:

The need forchildren to playfreely outdoors innature in all sorts ofweathers leads to avariety of informallearning as well aslifelong interests.Children who arekept indoors tend tobe frustrated and sometimes behave aggressively as WendyTitman’s two-year research project ‘Special Places, SpecialPeople’ (1993, 58) indicated. She suggests that outdoorenvironments for children need to ‘offer the potential forchildren to “do” and “think” and “feel” and “be” all at thesame time.’

As part of our role in developing children’s creativity weneed to offer opportunities outside to enhance their capacitiesfor such areas as thinking, transferring and applying skills and

What is possible outdoors?

The EYFS (2012) states: ‘Being outdoors has a positiveimpact on children's sense of wellbeing and helps all aspectsof children's development. Being outdoors offers opportunitiesfor doing things in different ways and on different scales thanwhen indoors. It gives children first-hand contact with weather,seasons and the natural world. Outdoor environments offerchildren freedom to explore, use their senses, and bephysically active and exuberant.’

Before taking‘special’ childrenoutside it isimportant to thinkabout what theycan learn. Thereare a huge array ofopportunitiesincluding free play,environmental

education, adventurous activities and solo and groupchallenges. The special nature of being outside must includethe unique experiences of:• The weather - showers, heavier rain and rainbows, gentle

breezes and strong gusty wind, ice, snow and frost andsunshine.

• The seasons, which adds so much interest, colour andrichness.

• The freedom of space and topology.• The actual environment and landscape – mini-beasts, woods,

forests, fields, parks, beaches, hills and even mountains.

Nature offers rich stimuli and the chance tobe inquisitive, exploratory, adventurous,innovative and messy in ways neverfeasible indoors.

However, for convenience the garden, playground or parkare the nearest places for young children to experiencenature. These places also allow for an informal ‘less is moreapproach’ where practitioners can rely on material found insitu to inspire and fascinate as outside also allows for theunexpected to happen. The emotional nurturing ‘aah’ and ‘ugh’experiences may not all be pleasant but link better to indoorlearning being based upon concrete experience, which laterbecome the children’s own narrative stories.

Growing all children:

The experience of nature for young children needs to besofter and more enclosed that that for adults. Hard edged,

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Bilton, H. (2002) Outdoor Play in the Early Years: management andinnovation. London: David Fulton.

Department for Education (2012) Development Matters in the Early YearsFoundation Stage: Non Statutory Guidance Materials SupportsPractitioners in Implementing the Statutory Requirements of the EarlyYears Foundation Stage (revised edition). London: Department forEducation.

Gill, T (2007) No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk Adverse Society. London:Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Higgins, P and Nicol, R. (2011) Sir Patrick Geddes: ‘Vivendo Discimus’ –By Living We Learn. In Kemp, C and Smith, T (eds.) Sourcebook forExperiential Education: Key Thinkers and their Contributions New York:Routledge pp. 32-40.

Louv, R. (2005) Last Child in the Wood: saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. London: Atlantic Books.

Sandseter, E (2011) Children’s Risky Play from an EvolutionaryPerspective: The Anti-Phobic Effects of Thrilling Experiences Departmentof Physical Education, Queen Maud University College of EarlyChildhood Education (DMMH), Trondheim, Norway. 2011. 9(2): 257-284www.epjournal.net

Solly, K. (2014) Risk, Challenge and Adventure in the Early Years.London: Routledge.

Titman, W (1993) Special Places, Special People: The Hidden Curriculumof School Grounds. Winchester: World Wide Fund for Nature/LearningThrough Landscapes.

Tovey, H. (2007) Playing Outdoor: Spaces and Places, Risk andChallenge. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

problem-solving, channeling feelings and emotions anddeveloping a ‘can do’ attitude. They should also experiencesolitude and spirituality through awe and wonder. There hasbeen a rise in evidence that demonstrates the importance ofcontact with nature as being highly beneficial in these areas aswell as in helping us to concentrate and relax. The ‘addedvalue’ of bringing nature to children provides strong emotionalcontext for growth and is an amazing stimulus forcommunication as well as starting to care for our planet.

Through being outdoors young children can learn many skillsof social interaction and friendship through first handexperience with a range of natural materials. Their curiosityand ability to become ‘lost in the experience’ satisfy deepurges and allows them to also become part of a rich culturallydiverse community. This is turn gives them a sense ofbelonging. These create like any good recipe, an environmentof interactions which in turn build relationships, social skills, funand enjoyment of being with peers and adults.

Thus by embedding an outdoor approach to play andlearning, nature will assist us in helping all young children toboth learn holistically across the whole curriculum and becomebetter future citizens just as the pioneers suggested all thoseyears ago!

Montessori International Summer 2016 51

MCI regularly hosts OPEN EVENTS to provide furtherinformation on their range of Montessori courses.

Email: [email protected] or telephone: 020 7493 8300


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Iwas feeling very nervous, but fortunately on the first day Iwas picked up by a local taxi called a ‘tuktuk’ that tookme to the school where I met the teachers and principal.The teachers were lovely and, showing true Indianhospitality, I was welcomed into the school with open

arms and given some beautiful flowers as a welcome gift. The first day was focused on settling the children back into

school after their holidays, and me just ‘learning the ropes’. Itwas a lot to learn; not just teaching the children, but also thegeneral culture as well.

I had never experienced culture shock quite like that which Ihad in India. For example, on only day two, and having beengiven some very vague directions, I was somehow supposed tonavigate the buses. The place names were all in the locallanguage of Malayalam, which has its own script. Furthermore,in a country of 1.2 billion you discover a whole new meaning tothe word ‘crowded’. On a crowded Indian bus, there is nospace to move. Unless you sit next to a window, you cannot see

where to get off. When you finally do get off, you mustsomehow get the attention of the ticket conductor to ring thebell for you.

Interestingly, although a prayer was sung at the start of eachday, the children all came from a variety of religiousbackgrounds, namely Hindu, Muslim and Christian. The Hinduchildren were recognisable by the bindis on their foreheads,while Indian girls regardless of religion wore a lot of jewellery.Personally, I found India’s cultural and religious diversity really

beautiful, and children from different religions being closefriends and singing and praying together is something that Ibelieve Montessori really wanted to emphasise when shetalked about being what she termed a ‘citizen of the world’.

The school had six members of staff, not including theprincipal. The three main teachers were in charge of educatingthe children using the Montessori method, while the teachingassistants took care of answering the door, tidying up and the

children’s emotional wellbeing. I believe this is very different tothe role of teachers in the UK, who usually have to doeverything.

It is said that there are more English speakers in India thanin the whole of the UK, so it was a surprise to me that Iexperienced quite a language barrier at the school. Theteaching assistants didn’t speak a word of English, whichmeant I really had to make an effort to learn some Malayalam.Furthermore, although the main teachers spoke some English,

My Montessori journey in IndiaInspired by Maria Montessori’s time in Indiaand her own desire to travel that country,Elisabeth Dyke took up a placement there.Here she tells us about some of herexperiences.

The clear diversity of Montessori schools really captures the essence of being a ‘citizenof the world’ that Maria Montessori passionately wanted to convey. The Montessorimethod is something I truly believe in, and India is a beautiful part of the world that willalways have a special place in my heart.

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montessori and me


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Learning the letter names will not help children to read orwrite. At the school, the children instead learn the basic rulesthat govern the various spelling patterns of English (forexample, ‘ee’ or ‘ow’), and this makes it considerably easierfor them to decode words. Each child is assigned his/her ownindividual phonics work book that he/she will spend timegoing through on a one to one basis with the teacher.

Although not technically a Montessori aim, yoga doessupport Montessori’s belief that movement is an integral part

of a child’s development. Through yoga, children learn how tofurther fine tune their gross motor skills and develop theirconcentration. It also teaches patience and how to calm theirmind. Children develop their own strength and sense ofbalance. Throughout my placement in India, I taught yogaclasses, each lasting 20 to 30 minutes to no more than tenchildren. I even devised my own personal routine, designed toencompass postures that focused on different aspects ofpersonal development, such as improving one’s balance. Thisroutine is kept the same each time in order for the children togain practice and confidence in each pose.

In addition to teaching the young children, I also taughtEnglish to the other teachers. As someone who has experienceteaching English in Thailand and London, I found it veryrewarding to further my experience in India. Wherever we goin the world there are bound to be cultural differences, butreally that’s what makes such trips worthwhile. I was sofortunate to gain such rich experiences at a school that reallycared.

The clear diversity of Montessori schools really captures theessence of being a ‘citizen of the world’ that Maria Montessoripassionately wanted to convey. The Montessori method issomething I truly believe in, and India is a beautiful part of theworld that will always have a special place in my heart.

they were not comfortable communicating with orunderstanding an English person. As someone with experiencein EFL teaching, these differences concerned me at first, but Isoon learnt to embrace them and just accept them as part ofIndian culture.

The school incorporates the Montessori philosophy throughthe provision of Practical Life, Sensorial, Mathematics andCultural Montessori materials. Furthermore, each teacher isdedicated to teaching the children how to use each individual

activity so that he or she is able to work with it independentlynext time. The children are then granted ‘freedom within limits’to return to the activity of their choosing as and when they wish.It is in this way that they are following their own pattern ofpersonal development.

The nursery boasts a ‘Sensorial Area’, which helps primarilyto develop the young child’s sensory experiences. Throughoutthis young age, the child is going through what Montessoricalled a ‘sensitive period’ for sensory experiences. In otherwords, his/her senses are heightened and can learn complexconcepts such as long/short, thick/thin, different colours ormatching different sounds with ease. The important sensethroughout this time is the stereognostic sense, as the child isable to further fine tune his/her fine motor skills throughmanipulation of the Montessori sensorial material.

Children also learn practical life skills, designed to teachthem how to be independent, such as ‘pouring’ and ‘sponging’activities. I had previously only really experienced theMontessori method at my placement in the UK, but I found it sointeresting seeing the similarities; while there were of coursedifferences, the fundamental ethos of Montessori - freedomwithin limits, use of real objects - remained the same.

An alternative to rote learning and teaching children theletter names is to teach them phonics. Specifically, this refers tosounds, of which there are 44 in total in the English language.

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54 Montessori International Summer 2016


Finding the right childcare for yourlittle one while you work or study canbe a challenge. If your child hasadditional needs of any sort –whether a physical disability, chronicmedical condition, learningdifficulties, behavioural issues,communication problems or severeallergies – it might feel particularlydaunting. The good news is that thereis plenty of support available.

1Every local authority in England hasa Special Educational NeedsCoordinator (Senco), and you'll find

a Senco in every nursery and Sure Startcentre too. Their role is to work with youand your child, as well as staff and outsideagencies, to make sure your son ordaughter gets appropriate support.

2 Local authorities in England mustalso have a 'Local Offer' whichexplains the services available to

children who have special educationneeds or disabilities (SEND) and theirfamilies. You'll be able to find this online.

3 Mainstream childcare providers,such as nurseries and childminders,are required by law to make

‘reasonable adjustments' to accommodateyoungsters with additional needs. What'sconsidered a 'reasonable adjustment' isdecided on a case-by-case basis, butexamples might include new cateringarrangements to accommodate a childwith food allergies, an access ramp for achild with mobility difficulties, or findingspace and time for a speech therapist towork one-to-one with a child with delayedspeech.

4 If specialist childcare would bemore appropriate for your child,your local authority Senco or Family

Information Service should be able to tellyou about local nurseries and playschemesspecifically for disabled children, as wellas about specially trained registered

childcare accessible to all families whoneed it, and this covers disabled childrenup to the age of 18.

10 Finding the right childcare fora child with special needs maytake extra time, effort and

determination, but it benefits for the wholefamily. The charity Contact a Family(www.cafamily.org.uk) and local groupsthat make up the National Network ofParent Carer Forums (www.nnpcf.org.uk)are valuable sources of further advice.

Elyssa Campbell-Barr is authorof Choosing Childcare,published by Cross Publishing.It is available from 28 May2016 from all goodbookshops and online for£9.99. The book aims to help

you find the right kind ofchildcare to suit your unique family and worklife. Comprehensive, independent and up-to-date, it is full of helpful tips, useful contactsand practical advice. Elyssa has been writingabout childcare and education for over 15years. She was editor of Who Minds?, theNational Childminding Association magazine,from 1999 to 2006, and editor of The Teachermagazine from 2006 to 2014. She has writtenabout childcare and early education for manyorganisations and publications, includingOfsted, Sure Start, Nursery World, theProfessional Association for Childcare andEarly Years (Pacey), and NetMums. As theworking mother of a young daughter and son,she has very recent and relevant experience ofthe book’s topics.

childminders, and home childcarers if yourchild needs care at home.

5 There are also private nannyagencies that specialise inproviding families with childcarers

who have training or experience in caringfor disabled children and those withspecial educational needs. Snap Childcare(www.snapchildcare.co.uk) is one thatcovers the whole of the UK, and a websearch may reveal others in your area.

6 There may be financial supportavailable for your childcareprovider. Ask your Senco about

grants or funding that might cover the costsof assistants, extra equipment, sessionswith specialists or training.

7 Check your entitlement to taxcredits, as the amount you receivemay be higher if your child is

eligible for Disability Living Allowance or isregistered blind.

8 In England, if your child has anEducation, Health and Care Plan(EHC) they will be eligible for 15

hours of free early education each weekfrom the term after they turn two. You don'tneed to be working or studying to accessthis.

9 Under the Childcare Act 20016,local authorities in England have aduty to ensure there is suitable

Top ten tips for choosing childcarefor children with special needsFrom Elyssa Campbell-Barr

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55Montessori International Summer 2016

The Gower School is looking for aMontessori Teacher for our Primary School.This is a term time position. Candidatesneed to be highly motivated, sensitive,flexible, enthusiastic, reliable, dedicatedand passionate with a good team spiritand able to contribute to a strong team.We offer an excellent workingenvironment in a well-resourced AccreditedMontessori Primary school. We arecommitted to safeguarding and promotingthe welfare of children. DBS checksrequired. Please send your CV andcovering letter in the first instance to:[email protected]

Montessori Teacher


Norfolk House School and MontessoriNursery is a leading, co-educational, non-selective preparatory school and nursery inMuswell Hill, North London, for childrenaged 2-11. We are seeking to appoint aMontessori trained teacher to work with ourNursery pupils aged 2 – 4. Montessoriqualification and knowledge of the EarlyYears Foundation Stage are essential. Toapply, please request the application andjob description from Elizabeth Burke [email protected]. CVsubmissions will not be accepted asapplication. References and full CRBdisclosure will be undertaken beforeappointment. Website: www.montessori-house.org

Montessori Teacher

At Sunrise, children are our most preciousresource and by providing them with aholistic base for life, we can help bringabout their all-round development. We arelooking for an inspirational MontessoriTeacher to join our team. The post is full-time working with ages 2-5 years. AMontessori qualification is desired andNVQ Level 3 Childcare (or equivalent)essential. A minimum of 1 year experienceis required. Your duties will include: workingclosely with children and their families andthe Nursery team and; delivering the EYFScurriculum in the classroom. For more info:call 0208 885 3354 [email protected]. Website: www.sunrise.org.uk

Montessori Teacher


Living Spring Montessori Nursery inCricklewood, London – NW2 is looking fora 3-6 Montessori qualified directress for ourChildren’s House. The children in this groupare between 2 ½ -5 years of age. We arealso looking to recruit a 0-3 Montessoriqualified Educator for our Infant Community.The children in this group areapproximately 18 months to 2½ years ofage. Previous work experience within anaccredited Montessori Nursery or School isdesirable. Applicants for this positionshould have UK/EU residency or a valid UKWork Permit. We will consider sponsoringoverseas applicants who meet our criteriafor employment. To apply, please send yourfull CV or Resume to:[email protected]. Visit ourwebsite on www.livingspringmontessori.comTel: +44 208 8307331

Montessori 0-3 and 3-6 QualifiedDirectress/Teacher

St Mark’s Square Nursery School, LondonNW1 7TN - www.stmarkssquarenurseryschool.org.uk. St Mark’s is an unusual,outstanding, holistic school in Primrose Hill.We are a positive, child centered schoolwith a deep respect for children. We areseeking polite, well-mannered, reliable,Montessori / Level 3 equivalent trainedteacher looking for a long term career.Working knowledge of the EYFS, IEPs andplanning in early years setting areessential. You will be working as part of acommitted, friendly team. We offer acompetitive salary, paid school holidaysand school hours. Letters of application,along with CV showing details of tworeferees to: [email protected]

Experienced Nursery Teacher

We are seeking an innovative and qualifiedMontessori or Early Years teacher to joinour Outstanding nursery in North WestLondon. You will be a diligent and upbeatmember of the friendly team, with bothenthusiasm and a good sense of humour.The position is term time only, Monday toFriday working with a group of 2 - 5 yearolds. The applicant will be a motivatedindividual with a keen interest inencouraging and inspiring children to excel,while enjoying their time at nursery.Please contact Celia Stephenson [email protected] with your CV

Montessori/EarlynYears Teacher

To advertise your vacancycall Sameena on:

0207 493 8300

We are a large, friendly, well equippedand well established Montessori nurseryschool in Kensington, London. We have anopening for a full time teacher. You will beone of a happy group of teachers, each ofwhom has varying talents, and will beexpected to work very much as part of ateam. CVs can be emailed [email protected] or sent to: FelicityMarrian, Iverna Gardens Montessori, 1Coulson Street, London, SW3 3NG. You canalso telephone 020 7565 0850 or 020 79370794. Website: www.iverna.com

Full Time Teaching Job

We are seeking a dedicated, passionateand inspiring Deputy Manager and twoMontessori teachers. You will work withchildren aged 2-5 years, 8am-4pm, term-time only. The Deputy Manager shouldhave excellent communication andmanagerial skills with vast knowledge ofthe Montessori philosophy. The Montessoriteacher must be creative and committed tothe Montessori philosophy and the children.We offer a pension scheme and freeeducational training to further developexisting knowledge and experience. Weare committed to safeguarding childrenand require all candidates to undergo anenhanced DBS check and provide twosuitable references. Applicants should haveUK residency. Please forward CV to MsTejinder C Aiyadorai [email protected]. Website:www.littlebugsnursery.co.uk

Deputy Manager & Montessori Teacher

Windmill Montessori Nursery School, Est.1987 - 62 Shirland Road - Maida Vale,London W9 2EH Email: [email protected]. Full-Time or Part-TimeMontessori Teacher/Key Person requiredwith a good knowledge of the EYFS. (Newlyqualified Montessori Teachers welcome).Windmill is a privately owned NurserySchool operating term times only.Applicants must be: Highly motivated,enthusiastic, tidy, energetic and have agenuine desire to work with children aspart of a highly qualified team dedicatedto teaching. The children are agedbetween 2 and 5 years old. We offer anon-smoking environment. Please send oremail CV to the above addresses

Montessori Teacher/Key Person

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Montessori International Summer 2016

Holland Park Pre-Prep School and DayNursery are looking for a DeputyMontessori Manager with previousexperience in a senior role and a diplomain Montessori Pedagogy, a qualifiedMontessori teacher with a good knowledgeof the EYFS, and a Montessori assistantteacher. We are also recruiting a BabyRoom leader with 1 or 2 years experienceas a room leader. We are looking toreintroduce the Montessori Method at oursmall, homely and friendly school, based inW14. For more information about any ofthese roles please contact us on 020 76029066 or email [email protected]. Website:www.hpps.co.uk

Various Roles

We are a 60 place outstanding nursery inNorthwood, HA6 for ages 2-5 years, open50 weeks of the year. We have openingsfor 3 Montessori Directress to join our largefriendly team. The role includes planningfor children, writing reports, liaising withcarers and normal nursery duties. Pleaseapply with your CV and covering letter [email protected]. Website:woodlodge.org.uk

Montessori Directress

Required for lovely school in Whitton /Twickenham. We are looking for anexperienced qualified Montessori Directressto join our friendly, established andaccredited school. Salary and holidays arevery competitive. Potential candidates musthave a passion for the MontessoriPhilosophy, be able to guide and directstaff as well as having a sound knowledgeof the EYFS. If you have a talent to inspireyoung minds, are self motivated,conscientious with an impressive commandof spoken and written English please sendyour C.V. to Megan [email protected]

Montessori Deputy Manager/ Officer in Charge

Our Montessori School is located in Fulham.We have a friendly team of people whooffer a safe, secure and caring environmentfor children from 3 months to 5 years. Weare looking for people to join us and offercompetitive salaries for the right teammembers. Essential requirement for thispost is a SMILE! Head of Children House (2Year Experience with Montessori Diploma) -Good Communication skill & innovativeideas required. We are flexible and lovenew approaches. Ability to communicatewell with children of different cultures andbackgrounds. New ideas always welcomed.Please call 02077368922

Head of Children House

The Caterpillar Montessori Nursery Schoolbased in Chiswick W4 requires a part timeMontessori teacher - might suit someonewho is newly qualified or needs aplacement. We are an MEAB Accreditednursery looking for an enthusiastic,committed, friendly person to join our teamof teachers in a busy setting. You will alsoneed to have good written and spokenEnglish. The nursery is open term-time onlyand we are offering a competitive salary. Ifyou are interested please email your CV toAlison Scott [email protected]. Website:[email protected]

Montessori Teacher


Montessori Directress required in SW12.Sole charge of a class of 4 – 6 children,age range 2yrs – 4yrs (10 key childrenapproximately). The role includes planningfor the children, tracking, report writing,liaising with parents and working as part ofa very happy team. The school is in aVictorian house, with each teacher havingtheir own classroom. We open for 44 weeksof the year with teachers working between38 and 42 weeks. Excellent English, goodwritten English and a smart appearanceare necessary. A position is available ateach of our schools (Balham and Kew).Please email your CV for the attention ofFrances, to: [email protected]

Montessori Directress

An opportunity for a qualified MontessoriTeacher to join our friendly and enthusiasticteam, working with children from 2 - 5years. The Garden Room preschool inSW19 is a small independent nursery,recently rated Outstanding, set in aVictorian house with large garden. The roleinvolves observing, assessing and planningfor key children, liaising with parents,contributing to the overall curriculum andpotentially other responsibilities to beagreed. This is a full-time position, term-time only. If interested please email yourCV with covering letter [email protected]

Montessori Teacher

Wimbledon Park Montessori School, apopular nursery school in SouthfieldsLondon SW18, requires a motivatedexperienced teacher to join our team.Someone with a cheerful personality,excellent communication skills, fluentEnglish, both written and spoken. This is aKey person position and will need a soundknowledge of the EYFS, responsibilitiesinclude monitoring individual children’sprogress, planning learning activities andensuring the nursery environment is safeand stimulating. We offer trainingopportunities to all our staff members todevelop their skills. If you would like to bepart of a creative, friendly and hardworkingteam, please send your CV [email protected]

Montessori Teacher/Early Years Teacher

Sheen Montessori, a MEAB accredited pre-school situated within a beautiful greenpark in East Sheen (SW14), is searching fora qualified Montessori teacher. Applicantsshould be dynamic and proactive with acheerful personality, excellentcommunication skills, fluent English, bothwritten and spoken. This is a 'key carer'position and will need a sound knowledgeof the EYFS. Candidates should have goodIT skills and be confident in using anelectronic recording system. Responsibilitiesinclude monitoring individual children’sprogress, planning learning activities andensuring the nursery environment is safeand stimulating. Term time only, from 25 to34 hours per week. Please [email protected]:www.sheenmontessorinursery.co.uk

Montessori Teacher

Montessori Teachers are required for anestablished, friendly MEAB AccreditedMontessori Nurseries in Clapham. Thenurseries provide care and education forchildren aged 2-5 years in accordance withthe Montessori teaching principles. Thesuccessful candidates will be reliable, hard-working, passionate about working withchildren and have Montessoriqualifications. Other essential qualities aregood command of written and spokenEnglish, knowledge of EYFS, open to newideas, kind and caring and being able towork as a part of a friendly team. Mondayto Friday 8.00am – 1.00pm with apossibility of increasing the hours. Termtime only. Please send your CV and coverletter to Mrs [email protected] Website:www.nightingalemontessori.co.uk

Montessori Teachers

To advertise your vacancycall Sameena on:

0207 493 8300

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57Montessori International Summer 2016

Are you looking for a unique opportunity tobecome part of the fantastic team that setsthe standards for education in a new £400Krefitted Montessori nursery in KT1?Montessori Senior Directress andMontessori Directress vacancies –Montessori qualification and experienceessential. Room Supervisor and NVQ Level3 vacancies – Montessori experiencedesirable. All vacancies immediate start.Very competitive salary and benefitspackage with exciting training,development and progressionopportunities. Term Time and Full Timeavailable. Free DBS check. Please forwardyour CV to [email protected] or call 01494 779090.Website: www.asquithnurseries.co.uk

Various Vacancies for BrandNew Setting KT1





A group of 4 private Montessori NurserySchools (2 accredited) is recruiting parttime and full time Montessori Teachers inSouth East London, South Croydon andEastbourne. REQUIREMENTS: Montessoriqualified (or NVQ3 studying for aMontessori diploma) and experienced withexcellent written and spoken English; Strongknowledge of the EYFS and safeguardingprocedure; Devoted, dynamic, enthusiastic,committed to the Montessori method and ateam player. We are a long establishednursery group and we have part time andfull time vacancies available which canalso be term time or all year. Requestapplication pack by Email [email protected]. Website:www.dulwichoaks.co.uk

Montessori Teachers

Are you a qualified Montessori Teacher?Are you passionate about Early YearsEducation? We are looking for anenthusiastic, caring and reliable practitionerwho is interested to join our friendly team.You will need to have extensive knowledgeof the EYFS and the Montessori curriculum.We offer a competitive salary that reflectsyour qualification and level of experience.We offer regular training and developmentthat will enable you to take advantage ofour promotion opportunities. This post couldbe a full time or term time role. Candidatesmust have: A Montessori qualification; ValidDBS check; First aid (preferable). Pleaseforward CV and Covering Letter to:[email protected]

Montessori Teacher & Deputy Manager

Would you like to work in an outstanding,MEAB accredited, term time onlyMontessori environment within a passionateand enthusiastic team? Rose HouseMontessori, comprising of two Pre-schools(2.5 to 6 years) and a Primary School (6 to11 years) in Forest Hill SE 23 andSydenham SE26, offers a true Montessoriexperience for its children and staff. Weare looking for Montessori Teachers -newlyqualified and experienced- to join our teamin various positions. We offer beautifulMontessori environments with gardens,training and career developmentopportunities and competitive salaries. Toapply please email:[email protected]: www.rose-house-montessori.com

Montessori Teacher

Looking for a personal assistant and playpartner for our son, who is 4. He has alanguage delay and some sensoryprocessing difficulties which affect hissocial learning and communication. He hasan ASD diagnosis. Looking for an energetic,warm and empathetic person to supportour son in his communication, socializingand learning. You will spend time with himat pre-school (Forest Hill SE23) 3days/week. Montessori training (completedor in progress) is beneficial. The position isfor 15-18 hpw, Monday, Thursday andFriday. Salary is negotiable. Previousspecial needs experience a plus, howevernot required. Please send your CV [email protected]

1:1 Support and Play Partner

We are a friendly, well-equipped and wellestablished Montessori Primary School inWapping, close to the Tower of London. Weare looking to appoint full time Directressesto work with small classes of children agedfrom 3 - 6, 6 - 9 and 9 – 12. You will be partof a happy, caring team working in a lightairy environment, within a company offeringexcellent career prospects. We are offeringflexible terms and a competitive package.Start date ASAP. Please email CVs [email protected] ortelephone Jan Arnold on 020 7488 9237.Website: www.greengablesschool.com

Full Time Directress

We are looking for an enthusiastic,committed and dynamic Montessoriteacher who is passionate about themethod with excellent knowledge of allmaterials for a class of 3-4 year olds andalso 4-5 year olds. Great opportunities todevelop. Must be a team player andreliable with strong written skills. Our well-established school is in Walthamstow,north-east London and has children from 2-11 years. This is a full-time position duringschool term times only. Part time could beavailable. Must be committed tosafeguarding. Please send CV andcovering email to [email protected]: www.walthamstowmontessori.com

Montessori Trained Teacher

River House a popular independent schoolin London Docklands E14 currently have avacancy for a full time (term time, 40 hoursper week) Reception teacher. You will beresponsible for your own class of 18children aged 4-5 years and will beassisted by a full time teaching assistant.You must have a Montessori qualification,at least two years teaching experience andexperience of the EYFS curriculum, lessonplans, assessment and liaising withparents. The successful applicant will bepassionate about working with children,friendly, reliable, dedicated and able towork well as part of a team. Please emaila full CV and Covering Letter [email protected] Website:www.river-house.co.uk

Montessori Reception Teacher

Salary: £20,000 to £22,000 - Location:Marylebone & Paddington. Qualifications:Montessori Diploma, preferably at least 2years experience but graduates welcometo apply. 2 written references. Able to workin UK and with good command of English.Times: Monday to Friday FT 8.30 to 5.00. 5weeks holiday during school holidays only.Duties: Working with children 2.5 to 4+years old alongside Room Leader.Preparing, planning and tracking learningand creative activities for children perMontessori ethos. Plus all other Montessoriteacher related responsibilities (forexample daily care for environment, lunchand play time duties, termly materialassessment/care and attending EYFStraining). Email: [email protected] or call 07919 84 48 53

Montessori Teacher

To advertise your vacancycall Sameena on:

0207 493 8300

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Montessori International Summer 2016


Rushmore House Montessori - We arelooking for two qualified or part qualified,committed professional for our small,friendly preschool in Pratts Bottom,Orpington which is in Greater London, BR6.We are Ofsted Outstanding, MEABaccredited and 5 star food hygieneMontessori preschool. Term time only, 5days a week, 22-38 hrs/week, permanent.The role will include bringing new ideasand passion to the setting, contributing tolesson planning, observing and recordingthe children's development and being akey worker. You should have a good senseof humour and love working as part of asmall team. For application procedure visit:www.naturallearners.co.uk

Montessori Directress & Assistants

Brand New Montessori Nursery (HollybushMontessori) Opening January 2017 – Set inthe idyllic countryside of Chorleywood,Hertfordshire; (Chorleywood Tube Station ison the Metropolitan Line). We are lookingfor a formidable, enthusiastic andexperienced Senior Montessori Directress.In addition, we are also seeking amotivated Qualified Nursery Practitioner tojoin our small but perfectly formed team. Aunique 16 place setting for 3 & 4 year olds.Term-time only, Competitive salary, Careerprogression and training available. Toapply for either of these roles please senda current CV [email protected]

Various Vacancies


Montessori Teacher - Exciting opportunity tojoin a small Montessori school inWoodbridge. Based in the Suffolkcountryside, Rectory Garden is anestablished setting fully equipped withMontessori materials and staffed by ahappy and highly dedicated team. You willprovide high quality care and education forchildren aged 0-5 years; Assist in the day-to-day running of the setting; Act as keyworker to a small group of children andassist in the planning and development ofthe Montessori curriculum. Knowledge ofthe Early Years Foundation StageCurriculum essential. Email your CV [email protected] the attention of Georgina


Looking to recruit a Montessori NurseryOffice Administrator. We are an OfstedOutstanding Montessori Nursery located inrural Essex. We are looking to fill a positionto work in the nursery office and assist inour growing after-school club. The rightcandidate will have a knowledge of theMontessori ethos and principles, excellentcommunication skills , a high level of writtenEnglish, be computer literate and a teamplayer, who wishes to combine timeworking with children and maintaining theefficiency of the office. We are a nurserycommitted to Equal Opportunity andSafeguarding of Children. Please contactKathryn Smith for an application form.Telephone: 01376 564392. Email:[email protected]: www.coggeshallmontessori.co.uk


Full time Newly Trained Montessori Teacher:Ages 2 years–5 years; Monday- Friday 8.00–4.30, Term time only and some OpenDays. The Montessori Children’s HouseNursery School setting is located in centralSutton. We are a team of qualified staffcommitted to creating a stimulating, warmand fun environment. With excellent staff tochild ratios we are able to nurture eachchild’s individual needs, helping them toreach their full potential. Our aim to: “Instilthe love of learning” and help each childprepare for its next step with confidence.Contact: Principal Vandana [email protected]: www.montessorisutton.co.uk


Mulberry Montessori is a small privatenursery in a converted barn, with 2 wellequipped Neinhuis classes and a largegarden located in peaceful countryside butclose to the exciting university city ofCambridge. The position is an idealopportunity for an experienced Directressto take the next step in managing a settingof 40 children with a team of 8. We offer agenerous salary and holiday allowance inreturn for an inspiring and committedteacher with Ofsted & EYFS knowledge. Welook forward to hearing from you if youwould like to join us from Jan 17. Pleaseforward to CV [email protected]


Hampshire Do you have managerialpotential? We are looking for inspiringIndividuals who can work at managementlevel to support a successful and popularMontessori MEAB accredited setting. Youwill need to have strong communicationand interpersonal skills, a good businessacumen, a clear understanding ofsafeguarding, early years care andeducation issues and above all, absolutelylove working with children!! We are lookingfor someone who holds a minimum of aLevel 4 Montessori Diploma (or equivalent)with at least 3 years childcare care andrelevant management/leadershipexperience. To apply please contact KellyKnight on [email protected] /01962 856 201. Website: www.hartley-house.co.uk



The International Montessori TrilingualSchool of Nogent sur Marne,a few minutesfrom Paris (a 27 year old AMI Charterschool), is seeking : An English speaking 6-12 MCI/AMI Guide for our elementary classto work with a French speaking 3-6/6-12guide and a Montessori assistant. Alsoseeking an English speaking 3-6 MCI/AMIGuide for our Children's House to work witha French speaking 3-6 guide and aMontessori assistant. Our new premises areexceptional! Possibility of accommodation.Please send your CV and cover letter [email protected]. Spoken Frenchis not essential. Valid work permitnecessary. Website: www.ecole-bilingue-montessori-94.com


Martyrs Green is excited to be looking fora new manager. We require a motivatedindividual who is involved in all areas ofnursery life from strategic planning tomaintaining strong relationships withparents,from leading an excellent team toworking amongst the children. Ensuring thebest outcomes for children throughcombining the EYFS and Montessoriapproach to learning and development.Successful candidates must be dedicatedto: Providing outstanding care for children;Excellent communication/teammanagement skills; Partnership withparents; and Continuousimprovement/values and celebratesdiversity. Qualifications & Training: EarlyYears Degree/EYP/MontessoriQualifications; First Aid/ChildProtection/Special Needs. 2 years’experience in management position.Contact Dani Dew – Group Manager on

01932 866244 [email protected]: www.martyrsgreen.co.uk


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59Montessori International Summer 2016

Montessori British School in Valencia, Spainseeks trained 3-6 guide for new classopening in September 2016. Idealcandidate requirment: Montessori guidecertification; Native English; With QTS,Bachelor of Education or equivalent; WithEU-citizen or valid work permit. We offer fulltime position with attractive salary at Brandnew center with prepared environment at agreat location in the city of Valencia(Mediterranean seaside). Do you want tobe part of an enthusiastic, vocational andwonderful team? Please send your CV andmotivation letter [email protected] More info:http://imaginemontessori.es/en/open-position

Valencia, Spain

The Montessori International School inGenoa (Italy) and the Green School Ibiza(Spain) are currently recruiting professionalteachers for the school year 2016/2017 forNursery, Kindergarten (3-6 years) andPrimary school (6-12 years). We are alsolooking for teachers for the Summer Campfor June, July and August. Please be so kindto provide us with your European formatcurriculum vitae. For further informationplease contact [email protected]

Spain & Italy

Lead teachers for our Casa & elementary 6-9 & 9-12 class. This position requires thatthe candidate is a Native English speakeror excellent command of the Englishlanguage and a Montessori certificate. Ourschool is located steps from Kazienki Parkin vibrant and beautiful facilities. Becomepart of our caring and dedicated staff.Benefits include: excellent salary, medicalinsurance, and apartment. Please sendyour CV, 3 letters of reference, copy of yourcollege diploma and Montessori certificatealong with a current photo. Email to:[email protected] or Pleasecheck our website:www.warsawmontessori.edu.pl


Native English Speaker Teacher (3-6) -Montessori International School France. Thed'Esclaibes group is looking for aMontessori Native English teacher for its 3-6years old class. Full-time job in MontessoriInternational Schools in Marseille,Bordeaux, near Paris or Lille. Pleaseforward CV to [email protected]. Do not hesitate to contact usfor any further information. Website:http://education-montessori.com


An exciting opportunity for two experienced & highly knowledgeable Montessori Teachers inEdo State, Nigeria. West Africa for 2 terms with a competitive package! To teach alongsideother teachers in a brand new school with a class of 12 children, age range 2-13yrs approx.Candidates must be well organized, enthusiastic and hard working professionals with apossible opportunity to work in partnership with the establishment in future as a consultant /advisor. Accommodation, flights and transport provided. Enhanced DBS, Reference, andSuitability checks. Contact [email protected]

Nigeria, West Africa

Right Start International Montessori Schoolis a leading Montessori School based inYangon, Myanmar (Burma). Due to schoolexpansion, we are now looking to recruittrained Montessori teachers to join theteam. Suitable applicants must haveMontessori teaching diploma (3-6); passionfor working with children. Knowledge ofEYFS is an added advantage and nativeEnglish speakers are preferable. JobDescription: Curriculum planning,Preparation, and instruction;Communication via newsletters, parentconferences; Record keeping and Trainingand Supervision of classroom assistants.Remuneration Package: Tax free salary$24,000 pa, negotiable depending onexperience; Accommodation; Annual ticket;Visa fee and 8 weeks holiday. Contactemail should be [email protected] is Yangon, Myanmar (Burma).Website: www.rightstartschool.net

Yangan, Myanmar (Burma)

Experienced 3-6 Montessori Directress –Sydney, Australia. A wonderful opportunityto live and work in one of the mostbeautiful cities in the world. We are a well-established Montessori Early ChildhoodService with centres in Mosman and Manlyand a team of passionate and dedicatededucators delivering high quality educationand care for our children and buildingstrong relationships with our families. Ourcentres are extensively resourced and themanagement team and educators takegreat pride in making our environmentssecure, stimulating and beautiful. You willneed to have: An accredited Montessoridiploma; Equivalent of Bachelor ofTeaching in Early Childhood; Good spokenand written English and Current First Aid. Toregister your interest and request furtherinformation please [email protected]

Sydney, Australia

A H LansleyBusiness Transfer Agents

Established 1890

Specialist agent for sale, purchase and valuation ofMontessori Nurseries & Schools throughout the UK.

Thinking of selling?Contact us in strict confidence for an initial valuation.

[email protected]

0118 9590271www.ahlansley.co.uk

To advertise your vacancycall Sameena on:

0207 493 8300

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60 Montessori International Summer 2016

MCI regularly hosts OPEN EVENTS to provide furtherinformation on their range of Montessori courses.

Email: [email protected] or telephone: 020 7493 8300


FoundationDegreeMontessori Early Childhood Practice•Become a Montessori Graduate Leader

•Combine study with placement in aMontessori setting

•2 years full-time

•Direct entry to Level 5 (year 2) forMCI diploma graduates

•Recognised early years qualification (meets Early Years Educator criteria)

•Progress to full BA (Hons)

“Doing the Montessori Foundation Course wasan amazing experience. It gave me thefoundations and philosophy of teaching which hassupported me through my Early Childhood StudiesDegree and now my PGCE."Lucilla Critchley

Next course starts




MCI regularly hosts OPEN EVENTS to provide furtherinformation on their range of Montessori courses.

Email: [email protected] or telephone: 020 7493 8300


Integrating MontessoriPracticeMCI has developed this professionaldevelopment course for practitioners whowant to integrate Montessori into theirpractice.

•Study flexibly online using our innovativeonline virtual learning environmentover maximum 12 months

•Online support from dedicated tutor

•Includes 2 week apparatus workshopor Saturday attendance at our Londoncollege

“The IMP course is a wonderfulopportunity for professionalswho wish to further theirunderstanding of Montessoriand enhance their practice.”Gabriela Roberts



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61Montessori International Summer 2016

Region 1 – North England/Scotland/N.IrelandAlderley Day Nursery CheshireChapel Grange Montessori Nursery School WilmslowGorton Mount Primary Academy ManchesterHolly Grange Montessori CuddingtonLeeds Montessori School and Day Nursery LeedsMalton Montessori School and Nursery MaltonMill Cottage Montessori School BrighouseMulberry Bush Montessori YorkhillMulberry Bush Montessori KillearnPocklington Montessori School YorkRigg Farm Montessori School HarrogateRooftops Montessori Pre-School RichmondWharfedale Montessori School SkiptonYork Montessori Nursery FulfordWillows Montessori Nursery Tyne and Wear

Region 2 – East & West MidlandsCaterpillars Montessori Pre-School Ellesmere Little Learners Montessori School SolihullMalvern Montessori MalvernMarket Harborough Montessori Nursery LeicestershireMerrydays and Henley Montessori Henley-in-ArdenMoseley Montessori Nursery BirminghamSt Mary's Montessori Day Nursery LutterworthThe Elms MalvernTiggywinkles Montessori Nursery Newport

Region 3 – East AngliaCherry Trees Preparatory and Montessori School Bury St EdmundsChives Montessori School IpswichColourbox Montessori School Ltd NewmarketFoxglove Montessori Nursery School StowmarketLittle People’s Montessori Nursery School NorwichNorwich Montessori School NorfolkPeacock Montessori Nursery DissPhoenix Montessori Nursery Terrington St ClementRectory Garden Montessori School WoodbridgeSunflower Montessori Nursery School SaxmundhamThe Meadows Montessori Primary School IpswichWillow Park Montessori Day Nursery Ipswich

Region 4 – Eastern EnglandAbsolute Angels Montessori Nursery CoggeshallArtisans Kindergarten HarpendenBright Learners Montessori School BarnetFlitch Green Pre-school Gt DunmowFlying Start Montessori Nursery School SawbridgeworthHarlequin Montessori Nursery BillericayJelly Beans Montessori Nursery HockleyKingfisher Montessori Nursery School Hemel HempsteadLittle Montessorians Pre-School Ilford

Maynard Montessori Pre-School StebbingNorfolk Lodge Montessori Nursery BarnetOaklea Montessori HarwichPippins Montessori ColchesterSitara Toto Montessori Well EndSoaring High Montessori Primary School CoggeshallStebbing Primary School EssexSt.Thomas More Montessori Pre-School Saffron WaldenSunflower Montessori Kindergarten BrentwoodThe Colourwheel Montessori Nursery Black NotleyThe Village Montessori Nursery nr EppingWestwood Montessori School Saffron WaldenWivenhoe Montessori Colchester

Region 5 – SoutheastAnne Frank Montessori HorshamBeckenham Montessori Preschool BeckenhamCator Park Montessori Pre-School BeckenhamChildrens House BirlingLittle Oaks Montessori Nursery School Forest RowMonique’s Montessori Day Nursery KentNew Montessori Pre School Worthing


Region 1North



Region 7Southwest& Wales


Region 4EasternEngland




Region 2East & WestMidlands


Region 9London




Region 3East



Region 5Southeast


MEAB Accredited SchoolsNumbers by Region

This is the current list of MEAB-accredited and re-accreditedsettings that, through taking part in the rigorousaccreditation process, have demonstrated the high quality of their Montessori practice and their commitment to continuous improvement through the supportive MEAB scheme.

Region 8Middlesex,Bucks. and


12 Region 6Berkshire,Hampshire& Surrey


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Orpington Montessori Pre-school KentRushmore House Montessori Pre-School KentThe New Montessori Pre-School WorthingThe Old School House II TenterdenWest Chiltington Montessori Nursery School West Sussex

Region 6 – Berkshire, Hampshire and SurreyCasa dei Bambini St Johns Hall WinchesterCaterpillars Montessori Nursery School Hartley WintneyFootprints Montessori Day Nursery West HorsleyGrantham Farm Montessori School TadleyHopscotch Montessori Nursery Old OxtedHartley House Montessori The Lido WinchesterLemon Tree Montessori School SandersteadLittle Tots Nursery ReadingMartyr’s Green Montessori OckhamMeadowbrook Montessori (Pre-Primary) BracknellMontessori Children’s House SuttonOverton Children’s House BasingstokeShamley Green Montessori Pre-School GuildfordStar Child Montessori Day Nursery Thornton HeathSteventon Children’s House BasingstokeTigglets Montessori Nursery School FarnhamThe Little House Montessori Nursery School BurstowThe Village Montessori Nursery School ReadingTreasure (Johanna) Montessori Nursery and Pre-school CamberleyWeyhill Montessori Haslemere

Region 7 – Southwest and WalesChagford Montessori Nursery School DevonDrakes Montessori Childcare ExmouthFrogmore Montessori Nursery DevonLittle Orchard Montessori Nursery SparkwellPlympton Montessori Nursery DevonStoke Bishop Montessori BristolThe Children’s Room SwanseaThe Clifton Children’s House Montessori School BristolThe Rainbow Montessori Nursery School Winscombe

Region 8 – Middlesex, Bucks. and Oxon.Chalfont St Peter Montessori School BuckinghamshireDenning Montessori School FawleyFountain Montessori Pre-School EdgewareHaydon Hall Montessori Nursery PinnerLittle Learners Montessori Nursery WembleyManor Grove Montessori TingewickMilkshake Montessori Nursery School TwickenhamRosewood Montessori Nursery School RuislipThe Children’s House KidlingtonThe Lighthouse NewingtonThe Little Learners Montessori Nursery WembleyThe Montessori Nursery School Kingston BlountThe Pavilion Montessori School Teddington

Region 9 – LondonAldersbrook Primary School and Nursery WansteadAndrea’s Montessori BalhamBarnes Montessori Nursery BarnesBeanstalk Montessori Nursery School HammersmithBeehive on Queen’s Park Montessori School BrentBeckett House Montessori Nursery Islington

Caterpillar Montessori Nursery School ChiswickCrossharbour Montessori Day Nursery DocklandsDulwich Montessori Nursery School College RoadEaling Green Montessori School EalingEden Montessori KensingtonHopes and Dreams Montessori School IslingtonIverna Gardens Montessori School KensingtonLadbroke Square Montessori School Notting HillLes Trois Oursons PaddingtonLittle Sweethearts Montessori School Little VeniceLittle Sponges Montessori GreenwichLittle Tree Montessori Nursery Hornsey ValeLiving Spring Montessori School CricklewoodMace Montessori Schools Ltd WandsworthMace Montessori Schools Ltd - Annex HammersmithMaria Montessori Nursery School EalingMars Montessori Bilingual Nursery IslingtonNewpark Childcare Centre BarbicanNewpark Montessori School Shepherds BushNew Park Nursery and Montessori School HighburyNew World Montessori Nursery School EalingNew World Montessori Nursery School, St Peter’s Ealing Nightingale 1 Montessori Nursery School ClaphamNightingale 2 Montessori Nursery ClaphamPaint Pots Montessori School BayswaterPaint Pots Montessori School Hyde ParkRose House Montessori School (St Georges) Forest HillRose House Montessori Pre-School (The Chapel) Forest HillSheen Montessori Nursery East SheenSt Andrew’s Montessori IslingtonSt Nicholas Preparatory School KensingtonSt Matthews Montessori School EalingStreatham Montessori Pre-School Streatham HillTara House Montessori Nursery ChiswickThe Gower School Nursery IslingtonThe Gower School (Montessori Primary) BarnsburyThe Little Learners Montessori Nursery CricklewoodThe Woodlands Montessori Preparatory School StratfordThe Village Montessori LewishamVictoria Road Montessori KensingtonWoodentots Montessori School Camden

InternationalAjyaal Montessori Pre-School BahrainBloom Primary, High and Children’s House Sarajevo Bosnia andHerzegovinaJakarta Montessori School IndonesiaGulf Montessori Nursery KuwaitGulf Montessori Nursery United Arab EmiratesHead Start Montessori House of Children Bangalore, IndiaInternational Montessori Nursery Abu DhabiInternational Montessori School of Albania Tirana, AlbaniaLittle Explorers Montessori Plus School GhanaLittle Gems Montessori Nursery Nicosia, CyprusLittle Gems Montessori Nursery Larnaca, CyprusMontessori Coop Istanbul TurkeyMadeleine’s Pre-School BahrainThe Montessori Children’s House West Des Moines, USAThe Woodland Montessori Pre-school Tai Tam, Hong KongThe Woodland Montessori Pre-School Repulse Bay, Hong KongThe Woodland Montessori Pre-School Mid-Levels, Hong Kong



Montessori International Summer 2016

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63Montessori International Summer 2016 63

The MSA was established in 2005, and is anorganisation for everyone engaged andinterested in Montessori education.Montessori schools, nurseries, daycareproviders, childminders, teachers and parentsare invited to join the MSA – the voice of theMontessori community in the UK.

The strength of the organisation lies in itsprofessional leadership and management,the size of its membership and the servicesand facilities offered, includingrepresentation at national level, an annualnational conference, accreditation ofMontessori settings, networkingopportunities at regional level andsubscription to Montessori Internationalmagazine, as well as discounts on courses,books, and access to on-line professionaldevelopment.

The MSA benefits from a national co-ordinator and is organised into regions; eachregion is supported by a regional chair whoacts as a link between the regionalmembership and the MSA Advisory Councilled by the National Chair, Dr Martin Bradley.

movement in the UK and will have anopportunity to contribute to the progressiveview of Montessori education as promotedby the MSN. You will have access to the MSAon-line forum, which will facilitate discussionand dialogue for Montessorians in the UK. Tofind out more about the full benefits and toregister on-line see www.montessori.org.uk

MSA and the MEAB accreditation continueto be financially supported by Montessori StNicholas Charity.

The Advisory Council meets in London threetimes a year and advises the Montessori StNicholas Charity (MSN) on issues relating toMontessori workforce and practice, onregional variation in delivery of early yearsprovision, and selects the Montessorian ofthe Year and Montessori Practitioner of theYear. These awards are presented at theMSA annual conference.

By becoming a member of the MSA youwill actively support the Montessori

Annual Charges for MSA MembershipSetting Category MSA Schools MEAB Schools

Large Setting £90 £60(75 + pupils on roll) £80 with Direct Debit* £50 with Direct Debit*

Medium Setting £70 £50(16 -74 pupils on roll) £60 with Direct Debit* £40 with Direct Debit*

Childminders and Small Setting £45 £35(with fewer than 16 pupils on roll) £38 with Direct Debit* £30 with Direct Debit*

Individual members £25£20 with Direct Debit*

*Direct debit will be available from December 2016 for January 2017 registrations

Setting the Scene

Since I was appointed to the post of CEO, now over 19 monthsago, I have been looking at how to make Montessori StNicholas a sustainable organisation. To readers unfamiliar withthe financial history of this organisation it may seem a slightlystrange objective, but when I took over I found a history ofsignificant deficits in the year-end accounts. Some deficits werehuge and well out of proportion for the size of the charity.

Closer inspection revealed that the charity had beensubsidising various arms of the Montessori group activitiesbecause these were activities that generated either very littleor no income. A consequence has been that these subsidieshave been eating into the capital that MSN had built up overthe years. Clearly, this is unsustainable.

The Way Forwards

We feel the work of MSA is important, and through responsesto our surveys you send us the same message. We want to notonly maintain MSA but build upon the support you offer tomake it a dynamic and long term partnership as amembership organisation that can pay its own way. That is whywe have to introduce a membership subscription.

In this magazine you will find an insert that outlines thebenefits of membership, the costs and the way to send us yourannual subscription. We plan to have the membership yearlasting from January to December and we will start thisimmediately. If you join now, or in the coming few months, youwill begin to enjoy free membership in September toDecember 2016. We can accept cheques or credit cards at thispoint (to pay by credit card please email Kristine Largo [email protected] and she will forward the relevantpayment document). However, we plan to move over to DirectDebits by the end of this year since this makes life easier for allinvolved. More details about the scheme will follow in duecourse. We also want to encourage our graduates from MCI tobecome members of MSA as they move out into settings tobegin their careers.

Without your support there can be no MSA. We have,though, been encouraged by your feedback over the past fewmonths and this has given us the confidence to feel that youwill subscribe and that all our preparations for this change willbe worthwhile. Thank you.

Dr Stephen D TommisChief Executive, MSN

Help us to help you in MSA

Why join the Montessori Schools Association

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Montessori International Summer 201664

msamembershipregistration(Individual & School)

Please complete this form and send with your cheque to Montessori Schools Association, 18 Balderton Street, London W1K 6TG. We will

contact you by email with your membership details and access to the new online MSA Forum. If you are registering as an individual member

just complete sections 1 and 2 (if you are working in a school). If you are registering your school all 5 sections need to be completed.

1. Your Details

Title Mr/Miss/Mrs/Ms First Name _____________________________________________________ Surname ______________________________________________________________ Job Title _______________________________________________

Address ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Email _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Phone ____________________________________________________________ Mobile _______________________________________________________

2. School Details

Head Title Mr/Miss/Mrs/Ms Head First Name ______________________________________________________________________ Head Surname ________________________________________________________________________________

School Name ________________________________________________________________________________________________ School Website ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

School Email _________________________________________________________________________________________________ School Phone __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. School Location Country

Address ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Town ___________________________________________________________________________________ County ____________________________________________________________________________ Postcode _______________________________________________________

4. Correspondence Address (if different) Country

Address ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Town ___________________________________________________________________________________ County ____________________________________________________________________________ Postcode _______________________________________________________

5. School Membership Deta ils

Date of last ofsted inspection ______________________________________________________________________________ Grade of last ofsted inspection _______________________________________________________________________

Ofsted Number _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ DFE Number ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

MEAB Accredited � Yes Primary or Childminder � Primary � Childminder Age range of Montessori provision From To

0 – 2 2 – 5 5 – 7 7 – 11

Number of staff FTE Montessori qualified MSA Member

Number of staff qualified at level 1 2 3 4

Premises � Owned � Rented School type � Sessional � Full time

Hours of Business _______________________________________________________________________________ Turnover of business � Under 100k � 100-200k � Over 200k

Management structure � Appointed manager � Owner manager � Owner with responsibility for administration

Category of membership � Large Setting � Medium Setting � Small setting or childminder

Number of Montessorichildren in each age range

Total number ofchildren on roll

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MSA PrimaryChair – Sarah RowledgeE [email protected] T 01376 562 000 Deputy – Emma GowersE [email protected] 020 7278 2020

MSA Childminders NetworkIf you are a Montessorian registered orconsidering registering as a childminder,please join us for a meeting at the end of theMSA Conference.

MSA Childminder’s ChairJennifer McArthur E [email protected] 01395 263868 Deputy – Gabrielle MillsE [email protected] T 07974 251042

MSA OfficeKristine Largo – MSA Administration ManagerE [email protected]

Philip Davies – Editor, Montessori InternationalE [email protected]




8 49


National ChairmanDr Martin BradleyContact through the MSA officeE [email protected] 020 7493 8300

Senior Management Team

Stephen Tommis

Chief Executive Officer

Barbara Isaacs

Chief Education Officer

Beverley Stewart

Head of Operations

Contact the Senior ManagementTeam through the MSA officeE [email protected] 020 7493 8300

Region 1 – North England/Scotland/Northern IrelandChair – Alison BarkerE [email protected] 01748 821 466Deputy – Sylwia ZywotkoT 07969 654 879Area covered: Cheshire, Co Durham,Cumbria, East Yorkshire, Greater Manchester,Lancashire, Merseyside, North Lincolnshire,North Yorkshire, Northumberland, SouthYorkshire, West Yorkshire

Region 2 – East and WestMidlandsChair – Raju SureliaE [email protected] 0121 709 1157Area covered: Derbyshire, Herefordshire,Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire,Nottinghamshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire,Warwickshire, West Midlands, Worcestershire

Region 3 – East AngliaChair – Ruth PalmerE [email protected] 01449 721 602Area covered: Cambridgeshire , Norfolk,Suffolk

Region 4 – Eastern EnglandChair – Joahnne CousinsE [email protected] 01206 827 126Deputy – Sarah DrummondE [email protected] covered: Befordshire, Essex, Hertfordshire

Region 5 – South EastChair – Fiona BrissendenT 01233 850 239Deputy – Candy BalfourE [email protected] covered: East Sussex, Kent, West Sussex

Region 6 – Berkshire,Hampshire & SurreyChair – Emma WetherleyE [email protected] T 07784428254Area covered: Berkshire, Surrey, Hampshire

Region 7 – South West andWalesChair – Pauline Bamford E paulinebamford@ hotmail.com T 07702 083 348Deputy – Sandra PidgeonE stokebishopmontessori@ hotmail.comArea covered: Cornwall, Devon, Dorset,Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Wales

Region 8 – Middlesex, Bucks. and Oxon.Chair – Rosie RobertsE [email protected] 020 8866 7653Deputy – Felicity FenemoreT 01280 848 626Area covered: Buckinghamshire, Middlesex,Oxfordshire

Region 9 – LondonChair – Georgina HoodE [email protected] 08456 43 44 41Deputy: Carol FlynnE [email protected] Area covered: London

The Montessori Schools Association (MSA) is a professional organisation that supports over

4000 Montessori schools and teachers throughout the UK. The MSA provides information,

advice, subsidised continued professional development training and networking opportunities

to our members. The MSA also works to raise the profile of Montessori education and issues

affecting it within the government and with the public.

The UK is split into several regions each of which has Regional Chairman who organises

meetings and events for local members. If you live in the UK and are involved in Montessori,

make sure you join this growing organisation for free at www.montessori.org.uk/msa


Montessori International Summer 2016 65

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ChildminderYou will need to do

training with theChildminding

Association andregister with OFSTED


registration with OFSTED


(in State Primary School)


Manage aNursery

Set-up ownMontessori


2 years workexperience


Follow aProfessionalManagementQualification


Early YearsTeacher Status

QualifiedTeaching Status

Work in a State PrimarySchool


Certificate in HigherEducation

(One Year Full-Time meetsearly years educator criteria)


Foundation Degreein Arts

(Two Year Programme Full-Time)

Year 1LEVEL 4

Year 2LEVEL 5

UniversityEarly Childhood Studies

BA Honours

1 year

ContinueKeep a professional diary documenting your practice and significant events at work

A Level Entry(or above)

Direct entry to Year 2 of

the Foundation Degree in


Join MSA Your Professional Organisation

Always bear in mind the MCI Code of Professional Conduct

AttendingDistance Learning

Diploma MontessoriPedagogy

(Birth to Seven & Early Years Educator)


With progression to Foundation Degree

1 year + placement

AttendingDistance Learning

GCSE Level Entry

Diploma MontessoriPedagogy

(Birth to Seven & Early Years Educator)


Key qualification to work withchildren

1 year + placement

1 year and professional placement

Progression of MCI Qualifications


Continuous professional development is an essential element of yourprofessional life.

See our website for details of seminars

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