Montessori Alliance

June 2011

June 2011

Welcome to the Summer edition & we hope you’re enjoying a bit of time off or at least a change in routine.  As Early Years practitioners we find it hard to take time off & often end up creating materials, repairing equipment or planning activities while supposedly on our holidays!

The Facebook site has been quite busy this month. We’ve talked about record keeping, curriculum development, Hetac, Síolta, books & creating a space on the website to share the resources practitioners have created. It’s fantastic to connect with so many different practices worldwide, we can learn so much from each other.

We’ve been slowly developing templates to help practitioners apply the 16 Síolta standards within their individual setting.

We have to admit we found this to be quite tedious & repetitive work. It’s a bit like something you know you have to do & that you’ll be delighted to finish, but you can think of lots of more ‘urgent’ things you’ve to do first!  Apologies for taking so long to get this done.

In this issue we also have the preliminary results from our recent survey ‘ Snapshot of Early Years Services in Ireland’.  The survey is still open to responses so if you haven’t had a chance to fill it in why not do it now .

Living in Ireland the only thing we can be sure about as regards the weather, is that it’s changeable!

Enjoy your summer, wherever you are & whatever the weather

Regards, Lyn

Over to You

Gary Potgieter and his wife Bonnie run a Montessori school and teacher training college in South Africa. During this month they generously shared a Report Template which they use to record how the children are progressing though materials, highlight areas where children may need further presentations & to gather information they need to give feedback to parents. We’ve modified the template and have an individual & class version available in PDF format on our website. Email us if you’d like a Word Version. Not knowing much about Montessori in South Africa we were delighted to connect with Gary & Bonnie and read with interest what they do & what they hope to achieve.Gary and Bonnie have just started training 15 ladies from the poorer areas of South Africa to be Montessori Teachers. Their school, City Montessori in Port Elisabeth, has joined up with Clay Platte Montessori in America and they are offering the training on a joint sponsorship basis.

Over the past few years Gary& Bonnie have been inviting teachers from all over the world to stay in their home & have a free holiday! Sounds good doesn’t it? All they ask in return is for teachers to share their expertise by teaching in schools or training teachers. As Gary pointed out, this type of  arrangement is beneficial to everybody, the teachers who visit, as they have an opportunity to experience life and learning in a totally different setting, and the students who benefit from the knowledge they receive.

A lot of time and effort goes into planning and delivering this training and it needs to be acknowledged that the students put in a lot of effort as well. As they are from poorer areas & don’t have enough money to pay their fees, Gary & his team give them the course for free and in return the students give 700 hours back to the community. To assist practitioners opening their own school, the course has a very practical focus. As Montessori materials are very expensive, during the year students make most of their practical life, sensorial, maths & language materials so that when they finish they have most of the materials they need to start their own school. They’ll also have a MEPI Diploma from the USA & South African Montessori Association. Preschool in South Africa receives no government funding but Montessori schools can avail of voluntary membership of the South African Montessori Association although this can be costly for a start up business.

Most children in South Africa are cared for at home or within the extended family until they are 3 years of age. After that age children usually go to preschool or daycare.  As parents want their children to go to a ‘good’ school, attending a preschool setting is considered a reliable way to ensure their child gets into their chosen school. Gary feels that national schools do not appreciate how independent and confident children who’ve been to Montessori are & as a result he is finding it hard to get the message across to parents that Montessori is as good as, if not better than other Early years settings.

Newsletter Spotlight

A lot of practitioners struggle with organizing themes and would like to structure their day according to the seasons. Pamela Purcell has kindly sent us the way she approaches themes throughout the year. Pamela splits her year according to the seasons. At the moment she’s preparing for autumn, sorting through her folders & gathering resources. She uses a mixture of posters, models, dioramas, art & craft, poems & actions songs as well as the ‘Parts of ‘ jigsaws & cards for the tree & leaf. She also has a nature table & with each season the setting alters just as it does outdoors. When the children return to school in September the nature table slowly begins to reflect an autumnal theme. Children & the teacher make model hedgehogs from plasticine & use matchsticks for the bristles. A circle time talking about animals that hibernate follows & afterwards the teacher’s hedgehog is placed on the nature table & covered in leaves the children have brought in. Pamela has prepared themed work sheets for each stage of the process. Photographs of animals in hibernation & of the squirrel preparing for winter by gathering nuts & seeds, helps to link nature to the season. She also ‘makes it real’ by asking the children what they do in autumn, what clothes they wear & what they notice about the weather. For ease of use we are converting Pamela’s data into a template which will be available in the Curriculum section of the Practitioner’s tab on our website

Action Poem

Five Little Bees

One little bee blew and flew, he met a friend & that made two.

Two little bees as busy as could be, along came another & that made three.

Three little bees wanted one more, found one soon & that made four.

Four little bees going to the hive, spied their little brother & that made five.

Five little bees working every hour, buzz away bees and find another flower.

Five Little Bees is a poem which allows you to create & add the actions you want.. If the weather is nice, you could have some children dressed as bees & some as flowers. You can recite the rhyme until the children know it well while the bees are  flying (running) around the ‘flowers’. The ‘bees’ can join hands and form a chain as they are united in the rhyme. Finish with the bees buzzing off around the garden chasing the flowers.

Survey

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our ‘Snap Shot of Early Years Services in Ireland’. We’ve had a good response & the survey is still open so if you haven’t had time to participate click here & it’ll take you straight to the survey. Preliminary results are surprising & not as clear cut as we thought they would be. 35% of respondents deliver just one session a day. 80% say Montessori is the word that best describes their setting. 48% have been in business for over 5 years. 27% are working with one other person. 16% cater for between 5-8 children. 71% said the ECCE scheme had impacted on their service & of these 19% said it had impacted negatively and 26% said positively. 50% of respondents said it costs between €6—€8 per child to meet running cost. With regard to the majority of respondents, 60%, cited clear information from Government as the way they felt they could be better support in what they do. Full results will be available in our next newsletter.

Useful Links

Preschool songs and Rhymes

Books at a reasonable price

Practitioners favourite books

Wildlife Posters & Information

Pamela’s phonetic reader

Ebook: Drama & Activities

Web design at 100 Paces

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