Montessori Stepping Stones offers an Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACEQA) accredited early learning and pre-school program, based on the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), which is presented using Montessori principles, methods and materials. Montessori Stepping Stones is subject to regular reviews from both ACEQA and the WA Department of Communities Education and Care Regulatory Unit who check our curriculum, records, and work samples as well as observe in the classrooms the same as is required of all early learning centres and pre-schools in Australia. Our educators and teachers are constantly updating their knowledge, and attend various workshops & professional development courses throughout the year.
Xplor is a comprehensive outcome-based early childhood education management system that we use at Montessori Stepping Stones. It provides our parents and families with the ability to have active input into your children’s education.
Our educators and management can view charts and reports containing up-to-date statistics on child observations, ensuring that each child’s progress is monitored on a regular and ongoing basis.
The user interface is clean and intuitive, providing educators, families and management with the ability to enter required information with minimum effort. Detailed program, child, observation, experience and journal reports provide accurate and timely information on child progress and program effectiveness.
Parents and guardians can view their child’s learning journey securely online, and can collaboratively contribute to their learning program.
Our roots lie in the distant past, and history is the story of our common heritage. Without a strong sense of history, we cannot begin to know who we are as individuals today.
Our goal is to develop a global perspective, and the learning/understanding of history and world cultures forms the cornerstone of our programme.
With this goal in mind, we teach history and world cultures from the age of three. Our youngest children work with specially designed maps and begin to learn the names of the world’s continents and countries. Physical geography begins with the learning/understanding of landforms. In the first instance, our children continue with the learning/understanding of the formation of the Earth, the emergence of the oceans and atmosphere, and the evolution of life. They learn about the world’s rivers, lakes, deserts, mountain ranges, and natural resources.
The programme integrates art, music, dance, cooking, geography, literature, and science, and the children learn to prepare and enjoy dishes from all over the world. They learn the traditional folksongs and dances in music, and explore traditional folk crafts in art. In English, they read the traditional as well as indigenous folk tales, and both research and prepare reports about the countries that interest them.
Our weeks and months culminate in marvellous international holidays and festivals that serve as the highpoints of every year. A few of the most popular celebrations are Australia Day, Anzac Day, Chinese New Year, Easter, Foundation Day, Deepavali, Hari Raya and Christmas. At the next level, children begin to learning/understanding world cultures in greater depth – the customs, housing, diet, the arts, history, dress and government. Keep in mind that our children go to school and grow up with their own cultural heritage, and those of their friends.
Our children study the emergence of the first civilizations and the universal needs of man. Later, depending of the developmental stage/level of the child, they may begin their formal study of history. They focus on the history from early man through to the ancient civilizations, continuing on through time to reach the present day in history. We try to present a sense of living history at every level through direct hands-on experience.
We build models of ancient tools and structures, prepare our own manuscripts, make ceremonial masks, and recreate all sorts of artefacts of the everyday life of an historical era. Children learn how to build shelters or camp out. Experiences such as these make it much easier for our children to appreciate history.
Practical economics is another important element in our programme. One of our early lessons is how to use money and calculate change in a store.
At Montessori Stepping Stones we use a multi-disciplinary approach to physical education. The overall goal is to introduce our children to fitness and sports, which in turn helps encourage each child’s cognitive, social, gross-motor and fine-motor skills, as well as sensory-motor development while having fun with his or her friends.
These activities also help to foster co-operation and team work in other areas outside of the physical education class. During the early stages of child development, the observation of, and provision of, psychomotor activities (progressive acquisition of skills involving both mental and motor activities) is a paramount task of the educator. Whenever learning new movements there is a level of frustration that hinders growth – this is natural. A good educator sets goals, encourages practice, gives positive feedback, and provides motivation. This helps the child progress through the different stages of psychomotor development, making it easier and less frustrating to learn.
During the period from birth to 12 months, most development is in the gross-motor movement domain. Gross motor skills involve moving the whole body and using larger muscles of the body such as those in the arms and legs. They include skills such as gaining control of the head, neck, and torso to achieve a standing or sitting position. They also include locomotor skills such as crawling, walking, stretching, and throwing. Children develop many gross motor skills as they move and explore freely in our safe and supportive prepared environment.
When they can coordinate their movement, children are ready to learn how to pedal a tricycle, turn somersaults, catch, throw and kick balls. At times children require instruction to learn these skills. To become proficient, most children need numerous opportunities to practice using their skills. Gross motor skills lead to growing confidence and pride in accomplishments (social and emotional development, self-concept). Children between the age of 18 months and 2 years begin to practice their fine motor skills to discover everything they can grab hold of, thus practising dexterity and sensory- motor movement. Fine motor skills involve use of the small muscles found in individual body parts, especially those in the hands and feet. Children use their fine motor skills to grasp, hold, and manipulate small objects and tools. As they gain eye-hand coordination, they learn to direct the movements of their fingers, hands, and wrists to perform more complex tasks. With access to appropriate materials and activities, children can practice and refine both their fine and gross motor skills during a variety of experiences and while performing self-help routines. For example, children might draw and write with markers, manipulate and use eating utensils, put on and take off dress-up clothes, and use a magnifying glass to examine an insect.
For the children between the age of 2 – 5 years, warm-ups may include walking the line at different speeds, as well as balancing exercises. The callisthenics vary from arm circles, leg stretches and trunk stretches, to isolating specific muscle groups and basic neck circles. In this way, the child gains a greater awareness of her or his own body by learning the different names of the major muscles.
The idea is for the child to become familiar with the different areas of his body. By doing these various movement exercises, the child takes command of his or her own body, while at the same time participating in a group activity.
Each child is given a chance to lead these activities, which in turn gives him a sense of leadership and confidence in assisting others. The importance of team support and cooperation is stressed. The idea is to help each individual child reach her highest potential without an emphasis on winning or losing so much, but rather, how the individual does. The children reach many levels, both physically and socially. They usually show a high degree of sportsmanship through these activities and learn to meet the challenges of Physical Education!
The process of learning how to read should be as painless and simple as learning how to speak, and at Montessori Stepping Stones this comes naturally, and begins with a child’s first interest.
The child begins by learning the phonetic sounds of the alphabet, using her or his growing knowledge to read and write increasingly complex words and sentences.
Mastery of basic skills normally develops so smoothly that children tend to exhibit a sudden ‘explosion into reading’, which leaves our young children beaming with pride.
Once our young children have made their first breakthroughs into reading, they tend to proceed rapidly. There is typically a quick jump from reading and writing single words to sentences and stories. At this point, we begin a systematic approach towards the English language, learning vocabulary, spelling rules, and linguistics.
We begin to teach the function of words to children as young as 3½ years, just as they are first learning how to put words together to express themselves. This leads them to master these vital skills during a time in their lives when it is a delight, rather than a chore. Before long, they learn to write naturally and well.
During the early years, we increasingly focus on the organisation and development of increasingly complex ideas and information into well-spoken stories, poems, and/or plays.
Finally, and most importantly, the key to our language arts curriculum is the quality of the things we read with our children, or give to read.
Often in this world children learn math by rote, without any real understanding or ability to put their skills to use in everyday life. Learning comes much more easily when they work with concrete educational materials that graphically show what is taking place in a given mathematical process.
At Montessori Stepping Stones we use hands-on learning materials that make abstract concepts clear and concrete. Children can literally see and explore what is going on. Our approach to teaching mathematics is based on the research of Dr Maria Montessori and Dr Jean Piaget. It offers a clear and logical strategy for helping children both understand and develop a sound foundation in numeracy and geometry.
As an example, consider the very basis of mathematics – the decimal system, comprising of units, tens, hundreds, and thousands. Since quantities larger than twenty rarely have any meaning to a young child, Dr Montessori reasoned that we should present this abstract concept graphically. Children cannot normally conceive of the size of a hundred, thousand or million; much less the idea that a thousand is equal to ten hundreds, or one hundred tens.
Montessori overcame this obstacle by developing a concrete representation of the decimal system. Units are represented by single one-centimetre beads; a unit of ten is made up of a bar of ten beads strung together; hundreds are squares made up of ten ten-bars; and thousands are cubes made up of ten hundred-squares. Together, they form a visually and intellectually impressive tool for learning.
From this foundation, all of the operations in mathematics, such as the addition of quantities into the thousands, become clear and concrete, allowing the child to internalise a clear image of how the process works.
We follow the same principle in introducing plane and solid geometry to very young children, using geometric insets and three-dimensional models, which they learn to identify and define. Montessori Stepping Stones children, at the age of 5 years, can commonly name geometric forms that most adults would not recognise. The study of volume, area and precise measurement in everyday applications around the school is introduced in the early years and continually reinforced and expanded.
The music and arts are not set apart from the rest of the curricular activities. They are modes of exploring and expanding lessons that have been introduced in such learning areas as geography, history, English, science and mathematics.
The art activities at Montessori Stepping Stones are aimed to meet these specific goals:
- To provide the child with time to develop skills in creativity and imagination and express his or her individual creativity using a multitude of different media
- To facilitate techniques which will advance the child’s art skills and expand her or his knowledge regarding what can be achieved through art.
The art environment is a place where anything is possible and everything goes. The child who does not like the two-dimensional quality of paper might be fascinated with paper pulp sculpture or drawing with crayons on sandpaper in the fashion of the prehistoric cave artists.
Through exploring both the conventional and unconventional media in children’s art, each child will be more able to creatively express himself, allowing for a higher level of skill and more.
Further, by doing this, the children will continue to add to their bank of knowledge of art and enhance their art appreciation skills. These activities serve as a stimulus for their own creative expression, giving them ideas and impressions to use in their own individual art. Art is more than clay, paper, paste, paint, and glitter.
By demonstrating artistic concepts such as texture, the colour wheel, blending, and movement and providing a never-ending supply of ways for these concepts to be applied, the child is set up for success.
The music program at Montessori Stepping Stones addresses the musical and rhythmic needs of children starting in their early childhood. The philosophy behind our music program is to foster the child’s educational experience through sound ability, to utilise and control the first musical instrument known to man, the voice, and to develop a basis to stimulate and enhance learning in the academic arenas.
As the children develop their abilities, they advance to the various and subjects within the music program. The current music program is comprised of several facets – introductory small group lessons, instrumental lessons, music appreciation and music history.