The Benefits Of A Combined Montessori & Interest-Based Approach At Randwick Creative Childcare
By: Melissa Fine, ellaslist
Welcome to Randwick Creative Childcare, a concept childcare centre like no other. “We very much believe that children should be involved in their own learning, learning that is child-initiated,” Alicia Mirarchi, the childcare centre’s Director said.
Here the combination of a Montessori and interest-based program is aimed at developing the whole child so to give them the best possible skills for school readiness.
What Makes the Montessori Method Develop School Readiness?
The Montessori education program at Randwick Creative has children of mixed ages grouped together (ranging from age two to six). so to promote collaborative leaning in preparation for school.
Scientifically based on the key developmental stages a child goes through, a Montessori approach provides appropriate activities that are aligned with progressive brain development. “Montessori has five key learning areas which enhance different school readiness skills,” said Randwick Creative’s Early Childhood Teacher Danielle Gerber, who has a Masters and Honours teaching degree in Special Education.
- Practical Life
This key learning area teaches children to care for themselves and the environment. “It is also aimed at developing strong grace and courtesy skills,” Danielle said, with activities including:
- Threading straws onto on a big needle
- Sorting coloured straws and coloured stones
- Pouring liquids into different objects
- Using tongs to transfer food from one container to another
These help to develop school readiness skills such as concentration, co-ordination and independence. They also indirectly prepare the children for reading and writing as they are set up from left to right, Danielle explained.
The sensorial learning area at the centre provides tactile, auditory, visual perception and olfactory activities, such as:
- Building towers with blocks in order of size
- Classifying and expressing different fabrics, smells and touch-sensations
- Classifying different geometric shapes
“These activities enhance a child’s ability to observe, compare, classify and identify things with increased precision when they start school,” Danielle said.
The mathematical activities at Randwick Creative are designed to teach mathematical concepts in a developmental sequence with concrete, sensorial materials; once a child masters an activity, another mathematical concept will be introduced to the child at an increased level of difficulty.
Maths at the centre begins with:
- The sensorial tracing of sandpaper numbers from top to bottom (to develop the memory of the shape of the number in the brain)
- The writing of numbers, and
- The counting of wooden rods into a wooden box according to a specific number from zero to nine
These activities enhance a child’s school readiness skills to identify numbers, write numbers correctly and count one to one correspondence according to the number presented to them.
At Randwick Creative Childcare, children learn individual sounds and sound blends in a particular order if they are developmentally ready; this will enhance their vocabulary and enable them to read and write simple words and write simple sentences when they start school. Additionally, all language activities are taught top to bottom and left to right to align with the school curriculum.
“Many of the children at the centre are very ready for learning the sounds of letters,” Danielle said. “This is again presented to the children in a developmental sequence where they start off with tracing sandpaper letters and learn the associated sound that goes with the letter that they are learning.
“The child then gets the opportunity to write the letter in their book over traced dots together with images of things starting with the particular letter in order to enhance memory of the sound. For example, the teacher will draw an apple and an arrow image for the sound ‘a’. The children then get to read sound books also associated with the letter that they are learning at the time.
“The repetition of choosing a language activity means we have some two-year old’s who can remember the sound a letter makes, and a three-year-old who can read ‘The cat sat on the mat,’” Danielle said.
As a result of Danielle’s three teaching degrees and passion for literacy, she also runs an invaluable school readiness writing and reading comprehension program at the centre. “The children absolutely love the process of creating their own school resources and learning from them,” she said. “The ability to be able to sequence ideas and come up with creative, cohesive stories is very difficult for some children and therefore the inclusion of these literacy activities at Randwick Creative Childcare will greatly put some children ahead of others when they start school.”
“At our centre children get to experience music, stories, artwork and items from their own community and cultural backgrounds, and those of others in the class,” Danielle said.
“We have done an extensive study on where some of the children’s families have originated from around the world. The children first traced and then painted the Montessori world map puzzle. We then placed the name of individual countries of origin on the world map that the children had produced. After that we researched the different languages, foods, traditional dress and flags of the different countries.
“We also made the different foods of the different countries for the children to taste such as nachos from Mexico, and pasta from Italy. The children also learnt to speak simple words in Spanish, Russian and Italian. The children also enjoyed painting and making their own Mexican poncho.”
Together these cultural activities enhance the child’s geography, science and zoology skills, giving them a great basis of world knowledge when they start school.
What Makes The Interest-Based Method Develop School Readiness?
Alongside it’s strong Montessori program, Randwick Creative’s, interest-based program (aligned with the EYLF NSW teaching outcomes) allows the children to investigate areas of learning they are passionate about. This helps them to develop school readiness skills such as research, knowledge, innovation and creativity.
“[Recently] we have investigated the anatomy of jellyfish, researched how jellyfish sting, why jellyfish sting, made jelly with jelly crystals and made jellyfish from raw materials,” Danielle said.
Why Randwick Creative Childcare?
At Randwick Creative, “all the support the children need for school readiness is there to guide them through and teach them,” the centre’s Director Alicia said. "We give your child the opportunity to thrive at Randwick Creative, so that they continue to do so, being two-steps ahead when they start school."
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