ABOUT SMART START
Having fun while learning
We provide a stimulating environment, based on Montessori and Accelerated Learning principles. Whilst having fun and socialising, the activities provide an instant attraction. The children are allowed to choose activities they like from the shelves and can concentrate on their job without being interrupted. At the same time, if they don't know what to get on with next, there is always a teacher organising the next little group game to shown them something new and they can join in if they are interested. There are very few rules: the children are expected to be busy and to respect each other and the equipment. We organise our program so that the children get a taste of many different things, and it is therefore worthwhile to bring your child in for 2 days, rather than having to take them to many separate events. The regularity helps your child to feel at home and build a circle of friends. Apart from learning the basics of reading, writing and mathematics, biology and geography, the children also have daily group activities doing brain gym, yoga, sports, French or Spanish and music and movement.
Benefits of a mixed age group
The mixed age group provides a very stimulating environment because children always see someone else do something they have not yet done, thereby motivating them to gain the necessary skills to be able to do these tasks as well. It also means that no child ever feels that they are not as capable as someone else, because the mixed age group ensures that there are always other children at the same level for any particular task. For the older children they have the benefit of being able to
The equipment and toys are very practical and hands-on. First, there are the practical life activities, which allow the child to practise basic skills, such as pouring, spooning, using tweezers, doing up buttons and buckles, creating beautiful bead necklaces, sewing etc. These activities improve their fine motor skills as well as their concentration and allow them to become more independent as they will be able to do things by themselves and thereby it also improves their self-esteem There are puzzles and matching activities of increasing difficulty, which introduce geography and biology concepts. There are also many different activities with shapes, which provide a good preparation for mathematics. Then there is also the Montessori educational equipment, which provides the children with the opportunity to finetune their senses, and to develop mathematical and reading skills. Children are shown how to do a task, then are encouraged to have a go by themselves. Every piece of equipment prepares the way for the next step in their learning, so that they can learn a big task by doing little steps. This always spells victory for them, so they learn quickly and easily and are excited about learning.
Afternoon sessions also introduce topics to do with science, biology and geography to extend the children's knowledge base. They then use their skills to do craft activities, related to the topic. French and German vocabulary is also introduced, taking advantage of the children’s incredible ability to learn languages at this age. We also want to encourage each child to learn to play an instrument and on some days, give the children the opportunity to learn to play the violin or keyboard as part of the daily sessions. Each session concludes with music and movement. Brain gym is also practised daily. Educational equipment and art activities are introduced and then remain available for the children to repeat and perfect the particular skills, so that they develop self-confidence and concentration.
Learning social skills
Many of the activities which are displayed on the shelves, are for use by one child at a time. This way, children learn to take responsibility for their work, tidying it back up and putting it back on the shelf. It also gives them the freedom to experiment with it and know that someone else cannot just come and take it away. Even though they may be doing their own job, they are all constantly interacting with each other. They sit around the table and will be looking and commenting on what others are doing. The children are also encouraged to show each other how to do certain activities, so the classroom is a very cooperative little community. Some activities can be done by two or more children. There are also many small group activities that take place during each session. There are memory games, little groups that are learning letters, doing some number game, etc. Each activity attracts different children and this way, the children are constantly involved with different children in the group and get to know everyone. Small groups are also taken outside to practise gross motor skills such as using the balancing beam, doing obstacle courses and practising ball games. By doing group activities, they also learn to take turns and to consider the others in the group.
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