Sesame Lane Care and Kindergarten has opened a Montessori Children’s House at one of its North Lakes centres in a bid to encourage independent learning and thinking.
The 75-place ‘house’ runs alongside its play-based centre at Joyner Circuit and opened last month.
It is being overseen by experienced Montessori educator and directoress Amber Riddell, and has already changed the way children and educators behave and learn in the centre.
The teaching method, developed by Dr Maria Montessori in the early 1900s, encourages educators to observe children’s learning styles before introducing activities and offers children choice.
“From a classroom perspective, instead of having activities out on the tables and things to attract the child, it’s more about having activities on the shelf and having the classroom set up so they can get a choice in what they would like to do,” Ms Riddell said.
“It’s called a cycle of work, where they’re taking something, working with it and putting it back and also allows for repetition so they can do it as many times as they like.
“It’s a very calm environment, the adults are quite softly spoken when they’re in the classroom because the adult isn’t the focus in the classroom the activities do more of the talk than the adult.
In a Montessori classroom, nothing is above the child’s head. You should be able to draw a line in the classroom and have everything at the child’s height. We don’t want everything to be really overwhelming or really over-stimulating because we want them to be able to isolate what they’re learning.”
Learning materials are ‘real’ and made from nature rather than brightly coloured plastic.
Ms Riddell said it was not a huge cultural shift for Sesame Lane, which had already incorporated some of the key Montessori beliefs into its centres.
The change in teaching and learning style is being embraced by children, their families and staff, who are engaged in ongoing professional development.
Damien McDermid said his daughter Indiana, 2, was already more independent at home.
“She’s able to play independently. She will make her own sandwich and wants to get into everything,” he said.
“She’s probably more responsive to activities we’re doing as well, particularly cooking. She just does her thing and will ask for what she wants. She’s pretty happy.”
Ms Riddell said staff and children are enjoying the change.
“Some children have responded really well. Indy for example really loves doing stuff by herself, so by the adult recognising they need to step back has allowed her to blossom,” she said.
“Taking a step back is really challenging for the adult, but once they see them actually do something for themselves they can see how they can support the child in their learning pathway.”
For more information, visit sesamelane.com.au
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