Montessori Accreditation

The Little Sweethearts has gained accreditation under the Montessori Evaluation and Accreditation Board (MEAB) scheme. The scheme offers support and guidance to Montessori schools in order to ensure that their Montessori provision is of a high quality. The scheme, which includes two visits by MEAB assessors to the setting, also seeks to reassure parents that their Montessori school works with the Early Years Foundation Stage framework. The assessors that visited the Little Sweethearts felt that it followed the Montessori ethos and was certainly worthy of accreditation. You can see our Montessori Accreditation report here.

What is Montessori?

Montessori saw that children learn best by doing and that happy self-motivated learners form positive images of themselves as confident, successful people. Montessori creates specially designed resources to foster independence and a love for learning from an early age. The Montessori approach is holistic and aims to develop the whole child. Fundamental to the approach is the belief that a child's early years from birth to six are the period when they have the greatest capacity to learn. You can find out more about Montessori here.

Our Montessori curriculum has six distinct areas:

1. Practical Life

These activities help develop and refine co-ordination and concentration. The child learns skills to care for themself, the environment and to be an independent and useful member of any group. Real and functional equipment offer challenges to bring deep satisfaction and mastery of everyday skills.

For example, they can transfer pasta from bowl to bowl using a scoop, pour water from a jug through a funnel, thread some colourful beads onto a string, use brushes, cloths and sponges to clear up, practice doing up zips or buttons to dress themselves, or enjoy preparing fruit snacks.

2. Sensorial

Pre-school children learn through their senses - this section of our environment lets them explore through touch, feel, sight, hearing and even taste.

For example, they can build towers of blocks, feel 3D shapes, match sounds, colours and textures to start to categorise and make sense of the rich experiences in the everyday world. They will start to build their own mental concepts of "red", or "smooth", "heavy" or "round". Since they are particularly sensitive to language we always use the words to help describe their experiences at every step of discovery.

3. Mathematics

Using songs, baking sessions, outdoor games, puzzles etc. the child is introduced to early mathematical concepts of quantity, sequencing, matching and pairing. These building blocks lead them forward to use the specially designed mathematical activities using rods, beads, spindles and cubes. They can visualise the patterns and structures of numbers and gradually, step by step, gain confidence and understanding of numbers.

4. Literacy

Pre-schoolers learn language at an amazing rate: there are lots of interesting picture books, we play phonetic games and start to learn phonics gently using giant alphabet letters. For example, in our cosy book den, they can snuggle up at any time and become totally absorbed. Using sandpaper letters they can feel the phonetic letter sounds without knowing they are learning to read. All these prepare the child for reading and writing, while acquiring more knowledge and naturally beginning to notice words in their environment.

5. Cultural Awareness

Montessori educators believe that understanding our natural world and other cultures can help the child find their place in the world. Finding similarities and celebrating differences between cultures leads to inclusion and tolerance. Our cultural activities include Geography, Botany, Zoology and Science, and we mark a diverse selection of festivals throughout the year.

In our cultural shelves, the child can explore globes, puzzle maps and even create a volcanic eruption to understand the Earth and where we live. We share treasures from the beach, the woods and the gardens on our nature table where they can investigate using magnifying glasses or a microscope. Open our Continent boxes to discover photographs, dolls, and other cultural artefects from distant places.

6. Expressive Art and Design

The child has the freedom to explore creative materials with constant free access to arts and crafts materials for painting, gluing, sticking, printing and model making activities. They will be invited to take part in music and dance sessions and have constant access to rhythm instruments and different styles of music and learn a wide repertoire of traditional and new songs and nursery rhymes. They will find resources to engage in imaginative role play scenarios.