Frequently asked questions
Can we come and see your centre?
We invite parents to come
and visit the Swanbourne centre at 2:15 any Monday and the Shenton Park centre at 2:15 any Thursday.This is the children's
outside play time
and it gives us the opportunity to show you around and talk to you without
disrupting their work.
For the Scarborough centre, we invite you to come just before 9 am or at 9 am or when the children are having their story
time and you can see the classroom and talk to one of the teachers.
What are the social benefits of starting pre-school early?
Socially, they learn to share, to wait for their turn and to continue working
on an activity without the constant attention of an adult. These are skills that
especially the oldest child in the family struggles with,
and the earlier they learn to be part of a group, the easier it is for them to
get used to
accommodating the needs of other children.
What are the benefits of coming for 2 days?
At this age children benefit greatly from routine and repetition. If they only come for one day a week they tend to never really get into a routine and do not feel as relaxed and comfortable as they could. If they are not comfortable, they find it harder to concentrate and are more hesitant to try new things and develop their skills. They also find it harder to make strong friendships and are at a greater risk of experiencing separation anxiety.
For a lot of the activities we do, repetition is also the key.
If a child practices their letters every day they will pick them
up in a matter of weeks, but if they only do it once a week progress
is very slow and a whole year can pass without them mastering it.
A week is a long time for a young child and like every learning experience,
a lot is forgotten if it is not reinforced regularly. The children also need
repetition and time to develop their concentration, learn the expectations of
the classroom and to become self-directed. If we had all the children in our
classes coming for one day a week, we would have hundreds of children coming
through every week and it would not be the settled environment that it is now.
We would not have the time to get to know them, their abilities and interests and
so would not be able to provide such an effective and personalised learning program
for your child.
What are the benefits of staying on for the kindy year?
The final year at Smart Start is the year when many children
also attend their local Kindy but an increasing number of children choose to come
just to Smart Start, seeing that the majority of children will attend the Rosalie,Nedlands,
Subiaco, Claremont and Wembley primary schools and will have made a group of friends who will go
to their local primary school anyway. This year provides the icing on the cake and consolidates
the learning they have done in the previous years. At this stage, the children focus on learning
to work with the more advanced
Montessori materials for reading, writing, mathematics and geography. Again, the work
is always very hands on and helps the children to gain a concrete understanding.
For geography, there are puzzle maps of each continent, as seen in the picture.
This way, the children learn the position of different countries in each continent
in a playful way. They also love colouring in flags of the different countries,
thereby learning the names of these countries as well as improving their pencil control.
We also have a topic approach in the afternoons, especially to extend the kindy children and give them
the opportunity to apply their skills to each topic. Maria Montessori believed
that it was very important to introduce the children to the natural environment
and also provide opportunities for them to learn about other cultures, so that
by understanding them, they would strive for peace in the world. These are the
guiding principles for our topics, as more than ever, it seems necessary for our
children to appreciate the wonders of nature and the necessity to live peaceably
on our planet.
What are the benefits of coming for the full day?
The morning and afternoon programs complement each other.
During the mornings,most children tend to be very busy with individual activities and
being able to extend the morning work time builds the children's concentration span, which is
why Maria Montessori advocated a 3-hour uninterrupted work cycle time.
During the afternoons, the children are then calmer and we focus on doing group activities.
Whereas brain gym and talking about date and weather, tends to happen in the morning,
during the afternoons we have a topic approach, which often involves learning about science
or geography. The topics are introduced with a story, after which children are invited to
do some craft activity, according to their level of development.
Most days, we also have some French: a combination of doing actions, songs and games,
which the children love and which helps them build up a basic vocabulary in an active way.
Other games include action words in English, where the older children read words and then
do the actions. This fun activity motivates the younger children to learn to read as
there's so much fun to be had when you can read. The outside play time and gardening activities are
also during the afternoon as well as music and movement. The children have access to a small outdoor
area throughout the day where they can practise balancing and other physical developmental activities.
Will my child be pushed into learning?
Our main focus is that children are happy.
The mixed age environment provides a learning environment,
similar to a family with many children. Just like in a family,
where the youngest child will often be more advanced than the
older child was at the same age, because they’ve been watching the older sister
or brother and have had the opportunity to copy them,
in the Montessori classroom also, children pick up new skills
simply by being able to watch how other children do it.
We provide a place which is full of interesting activities
and the children provide the motivation for each other to try new
things. Once in a while, we encounter a child who is very reluctant
to try new things and will go to the same activity week after week,
e.g. playdough, and we can see they are avoiding extending themselves.
At that point, we do step in and tell them that we expect all children
to try something from each shelf and that we also expect them to do a new
job with one of the teachers each time. These children have built up some fear
of failure, and by showing them activities which will allow them to have success
and will build up their self-confidence, we usually overcome their resistance and
they soon start to become involved in all that’s happening around them. So, in short,
no pushing unless we see that a child is limiting themselves, in which case we encourage
them to be adventurous and try new things.
Is there enough to do for an advanced child?
The Montessori sensorial equipment is incredibly
versatile and is used at many different levels, and the children's problem
solving skills are challenged by finding new ways to of doing something by
combining pieces of equipment, etc. Puzzles and practical life activities are
changed on a regular basis, to encourage the children to have new experiences
and keep their interest going. I'm always on the lookout for new challenging and
interesting pieces of equipment.
The mathematical equipment provides hands on material to learn to add,
multiply and develop an understanding of working with increasingly
large numbers. And when they reach the stage that they can do more
abstract work, we can give them worksheet and they can keep perfecting their skills
with hands on as well as more abstract work. As long as the child has the concentration,
the sky is the limit! And the same goes for reading, the children start by learning the
letters with the felt letters, but then move on to 3 letter words, 4 letter words,
writing their own stories, etc.
Then we also have the puzzle maps of the continents, where they get practice at fitting in each
country into the right space and that certainly requires a lot of practise to be able to do
this by themselves. We also have flags they can colour in for each country and some children
are so intrigued by the flags they are able to name the country for each flag.
When we see that a
child has a particular interest in something, we try to find activities that will extend them
in that area. When you see the happy faces at the end of each session, you know that they have
had a fulfilling experience.