Welcome to Bright Light Montessori

Toddler Class

Your child is growing up fast and ready for a little more independence, our Toddler class will be a perfect introduction.

PRESCHOOL CLASS

Our approach to learning and teaching through child centred play and exploration. We have a fully equipped Montessori environment for your child to develop to their full potential.

AFTERCARE AND HOLIDAYCARE

With a wide range of activities including arts and crafts, imaginative play and physical activities, our staff will engage with your children.

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Why Bright Light Montessori?

Bright Light Montessori aims to create a loving environment that welcomes all children and allows them to feel at home. The school is set up in a cozy home environment that helps to create a loving home away from home and where they can grow to their full potential.

About Us

Bright Light Montessori was founded by our Principal and Preschool class Directress Natalie Hart in 2017.

Natalie spent many years’ au pairing children in America and South Africa, which created a deep love for child development and how to help them grow into confident, happy children. In 2008 Natalie studied at Headstart Mercy Montessori for her Diploma in age 3-6. Natalie taught at a small Montessori School in Mowbray for 3 years and then moved on to Mainstream preschool in Tokai where she grew even further in her love for education. Natalie has Bachelors in Education in Foundation Phase; this helps her to know what the children need to achieve to succeed in South African Grade 1 classes. After 5 years Natalie knew it was time to open her own school and help even more children grow to their full potential.

The Environment

The Montessori classroom is a home away from home a happy place full of friends where you can be yourself. It is a place full of interesting things to do, but also a place where you can take time out and just be quiet if you want to. It is somewhere where you can grow up knowing that you belong and that you are special.

Careful preparation

The layout of the classroom encourages exploration, communication and the development of relationships on all levels. Everything reflects a dedication to quality, beauty and to the children’s abilities to do things for themselves. Montessori saw that careful preparation of the environment is an essential ingredient for the successful development of children. She realised that the child relies completely on the environment for the sensorial impressions through which he gains a sense of the world in which he lives. She therefore paid a great deal of attention to the way in which Montessori schoolrooms were laid out. She wanted the classroom to be a happy, friendly place where children felt at home, where they knew where everything was and where they didn’t always have to rely on adults to help them.

Think child-sized

Everything in a Montessori classroom is made to be easily accessible to the children. Montessori was the first educator to produce child-sized tables and chairs and to think about the fact that children need to have cupboards and shelves at their own height. She wanted the children to feel that the schoolroom belonged to them rather than the teachers. She knew that order is very important to children and she therefore ensured that everything had its place and that all materials were kept as neatly as possible. She created materials that she saw the children were drawn to and she removed those items in which they showed no interest. She tried to ensure that the materials provided met the interests of the children. It was the children who led her development of the materials and the children who showed her how the environment should be prepared.

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Life skills

 

Montessori saw that very young children are frequently frustrated in their attempts to do things for themselves and that what they need is to have specific exercises, as closely linked to real life as possible, that allow them to master the tasks that they see going on around them in everyday life. She also saw that, unlike the adults in their lives, the children are not interested in achieving end results as quickly as possible, but are far more interested in the learning processes. As a result they will happily repeat exercises again and again until they feel satisfied. Practical life activities are therefore an important part of the Montessori environment. The young child is attracted to activities that he sees going on around him and that give him independence and control of his own life. She therefore introduced into her classrooms materials and exercises that allow children the maximum possible opportunity to learn how to both look after themselves and their environment. In the practical life area you will see things such as special frames to help children learn to do up and undo clothes, lots of spooning and pouring exercises, stirring, whisking and grating trays, cutting and threading activities and many other activities that children see going on around them at home. Practical life also includes helping children do other important tasks such as opening and closing doors, carrying trays and chairs, washing and drying hands, caring for books and blowing noses!

The sensorial materials

The need for order, exactness, self-correction and quiet reflection all are qualities that Montessori saw are needed in order for children to develop as they should. When she saw that children are particularly drawn to certain activities she then concentrated on developing materials that would extend that interest. She carefully took each of the senses and thought how best she could help the children to clarify and expand their existing experiences. By isolating specific qualities in the materials and by grading each set in ever-refined series, she was able to give the children the ability to increasingly refine each of their senses. Many of the exercises in this area are also indirect preparations for later mathematics and language work as they enable the child to order, classify, seriate and describe sensory impressions in relation to length, width, temperature, mass and colour.

Mathematics

Montessori believed that children have mathematical minds and she revolutionised the way in which mathematics is taught. She developed a wonderful set of materials, many of which have now been copied by educators throughout the world. The mathematical concept is presented firstly in a very concrete form followed by the abstract written version. The materials for mathematics introduce the concept of quantity and the symbols 1 through to 10. Then, using a variety of beads and symbol cards, the child becomes familiar with the numbers as a decimal system by means including concrete experiences with the operation of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. These operations not only teach the child to calculate, but they provide a deep understanding of how numbers function.

Language

Montessori was a great believer in indirect preparation. By this we mean that she found clever ways in which children can learn how to do things without even realising that that is what they are doing. For example, she created sets of metal insets that children use for drawing but that actually help form the fine motor skills for subsequent writing. Many of the practical life and sensorial exercises were designed with this in mind. When the child is ready, we begin to teach the phonetic sounds of the letters; then we move on to word building and recognition, and then book reading. She found that writing comes as part of the childs natural desire to express his or her new knowledge and nearly always precedes reading. One of the most wonderful times for children and teachers is when the children share the excitement of finding that they can put their thoughts down on paper and there is a subsequent explosion into emergent writing.

Cultural studies

Montessori saw that young children were full of curiosity and loved exploring new things for themselves. She also saw that they wanted to explore things in increasingly complex ways. When she experimented with what they might be interested in she was astonished just how much they wanted to know and how much they were able to remember. She therefore tried to find ways to help them understand the world beyond their own environments. She developed a wide range of beautiful materials that allowed the children to gain an appreciation of biology, geography, simple science and history. Each of these areas then allowed the children to explore and experiment with concepts such as metamorphosis, life cycles, land formations, the planets and time lines. As in all other areas of her work she was careful to let the children lead her in their interests and she was surprised to find that they very easily learnt not only the simple, but also the technical names of the new things that they were introduced to. In fact, Montessori children frequently astonish adults with their in-depth knowledge of the subjects they are studying.

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Art and creativity

Montessori felt that it is very important for children to be allowed to express themselves freely. She was aware; however, that they are very often frustrated by the fine motor skills they need for such things as cutting and gluing. She therefore developed many indirect activities that help children develop the necessary abilities. The Montessori environment is full of opportunities to experiment with different and exciting materials. Whether involved in painting, singing, playing instruments or dancing, children are allowed to be individuals, free to express their feelings and emotions and free to enjoy the rich worlds of movement, sound, colour and sensation.

Imagination

 

Montessori schools tend to offer the children activities that are based upon real activities in the real world. Montessori felt that very young children need experiences rooted in the real world. In a Montessori school, therefore, you are much more likely to see children doing real washing, cleaning and cooking than pretend.

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Outdoors

Being outdoors is very important. Children develop gross motor skills as they climb, jump and swing and also social skills as they take turns on equipment and play hide and seek. Montessori believed strongly that children should be in touch with the substance of their world, encouraging work with clay, gardening and growing activities and even building little houses. Contrary to the belief that a sandpit has no place in a Montessori nursery, it has been suggested that Maria Montessori invented the idea.

Social skills

Children aren’t born with an innate knowledge of why we shake hands, or kiss, or rub noses depending on our culture and in the Montessori classroom they learn appropriate greetings. As they become aware of other cultures they are encouraged to celebrate differences and value them equally. During circle time children are shown how to move quietly and carefully around the classroom, push in chairs, wait patiently before politely gaining someones attention and are reminded how important it is to allow others to work undisturbed. These ground rules in the classroom give every child total security. Children also learn to notice if somebody needs help and that nobody is too small to be useful.

A loving community

Above all, a Montessori environment is one where adults and children care for one other and aren’t afraid to show it. It is somewhere where you can learn as much as possible about all the things that interest you without being scared about the things that don’t. It is where you can be yourself and can learn to really love learning.

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Bright Light Montessori is a Christian based school, but welcomes all children and families of any religion.

We will have a simple prayer with meals, Christian crafts at Easter and Christmas and learn simple songs. Bible stories will be read regularly.

 

The main thing is that the groups should contain different ages, because it has great influence on the cultural development of the child. This is obtained by the relations of the children among themselves. You cannot imagine how well a young child learns from an older child; how patient the older child is with the difficulties of the younger.
—Maria Montessori

Children are more apt to learn from their peers than from adults. The older children serve as role models, not only socially but academically as well.

BRIGHT LIGHT MONTESSORI

 

  • MONTESSORI PARENT INFORMATION

 

  • Is Montessori all about academics?

No. The Montessori Method is more than an academic program. It is a whole approach to life, which is one of respect, compassion, and guidance in all areas of learning. It is designed to help children with the task of their inner construction as they grow from childhood to maturity. The Montessori Method develops the whole personality of the child, not merely his intellectual faculties. Children develop creativity, social skills, cooperation, initiative, independence, responsibility, self-esteem, self-discipline, problem solving, critical thinking, care and respect for others and for the world – all which lead to becoming fulfilled individuals and contributing positively to society. Dr. Montessori identified four “planes of development,” with each stage having its own developmental characteristics and developmental challenges. The Early Childhood Montessori environment for children age 3 to 6 is designed to work with the “Absorbent Mind”, “Sensitive Periods” and the tendencies of children at this stage of their development. Learning that takes place during these years comes spontaneously without effort, leading children to enter Primary School with a clear, concrete sense of many abstract concepts. Montessori helps children to become self-motivated, self-disciplined, and to retain a sense of curiosity. They tend to act with care and respect toward their environment and each other. They are able to work at their own pace and ability.

 

  • Why a three-year cycle?

Dr. Montessori identified four “planes of development,” with each stage having its own developmental characteristics and challenges. The Early Childhood Montessori environment for children ages three to six is designed to work with the “absorbent mind,” their “sensitive periods” and the tendencies of children at this stage of their development. The years from 3-6 are one phase of growth, with physical, intellectual and psychological characteristics common to that whole period. Learning that takes place during these years comes spontaneously without effort, leading children to enter the elementary years with a clear, concrete sense of many abstract concepts. This process seems to necessitate an educational approach with an extended time frame within which the individual child has room to grow at his/her own pace. In accord with this thinking, a Montessori school program, including the developmental learning aids and the work activities which go with it, is sequential and meant to be experienced over a three-year time span and not in individual, successive, one-year capsules.

The 3-year cycle also relates to Montessori’s valuable concept of age-mixed and ungraded classes. However, it is not just a simple matter of 3-4 year olds, 4-5 year olds, and 5-6 year olds spending time together in one environment. The hope is really that the younger children might learn from older ones who, in turn, have come up from “the ranks” and are well on their way to being self-directed. Such quality is hard to achieve with frequent and substantial turn over.   Montessori teaches us that the human personality comes into full engagement and self realization in successive stages and sub-stages of life – 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and beyond. Along the way, different things are introduced to these children within prepared environments, such as math, language, art and music. The design at each level of a Montessori class, has the child’s individual and physiological development in mind. The three year cycle allows the Directress to follow the natural transitions occurring within each child over a period of development, enabling them to meet the child’s individual needs and/or interests when those sensitive periods arise.

Within each 3-year cycle, a body of information and skills are presented. Failure to complete the 3-year cycle results in the child not achieving the “total possibility” offered by the class. Many loose ends, partially developed skills and incoherent knowledge are obvious. Montessori recognized sensitive periods in the development of children’s lives when they show strong interest in certain aspects of their environment. She designed her progress to introduce aspects of learning at a time when the children are most receptive. The third year is the culmination of this process. Within each 3 year cycle, a sequenced body of information and skills is presented. Much depends on the repetition, at successive stages of development, of similar exercises, so that understanding is fully assimilated through senses, feelings and thinking. Failure to complete a 3 year cycle will leave gaps in knowledge and understanding that may be difficult to fill at a later stage.  The 3 year cycle ensures completion of the work necessary to the development of the whole child at that particular age.

To receive the full benefits of a Montessori education, a child who enrolls should remain in the program for 3 years or more.  Each step of a child’s development and learning from the time he/she enters the Montessori classroom serves as a solid foundation for the next.  The child who does not finish the program will never experience the same benefits, joy and satisfaction of having reached the end.  A good analogy would be reading a book but never knowing what the last chapter is.  If you never know how it ends, your experience won’t be the same.  The Montessori program works in the same way.

The 3-year Montessori experience tends to nurture a joy of learning that prepares them for further challenges. This process seems to work best when children enter a Montessori program at about3 and stay at least through the kindergarten year. Children entering at age 4 or 5 do not consistently come to the end of the 3 year cycle having developed the same skills, work habits or values. Older children entering Montessori may do quite well in this very different setting, but this will depend to a large degree on their personality, previous educational experiences and the way they have been raised at home. Montessori programs can usually accept a few older children into an established class, so long as the family understands and accepts that some critical opportunities may have been missed, and these children may not reach the same levels of achievement seen in the other children of that age. On the other hand, because of the individualized pace of learning in Montessori classrooms, this will not normally be a concern.

 

  • My child is very active; will he/she adjust to the program?
Children who are active at home behave differently in the classroom. In the classroom, the limits and rules are clearly defined and consistently enforced. The classroom materials are routinely rotated to continually stimulate the child’s interest. The Directress (teacher) regularly observes the classroom and, if necessary, directs the child to materials that will engage him or her in the learning process.

 

  • What do polishing a mirror or scrubbing a table have to do with education?

The Practical Life area is very unique to a Montessori classroom. Through repetitive, hands-on and very purposeful activities, the child learns to do things for him or herself. At the same time, indirect learning beyond polishing a mirror, folding laundry, washing a table, or opening and closing a bottle is occurring. The children learn concentration, coordination, manual dexterity, order and independence. Far from being trivial, these skills form the necessary foundation for all future learning as they stir important areas in the brain. Not to mention, children are interested in learning “real” things which accounts for the tremendous popularity of these exercises.

 

  • Why is it so important for my child to experience the grade R year at a Montessori school?

The Montessori classroom is a carefully prepared environment where students are presented with endless opportunities to develop all of their senses and motor skills with the aid of self-correcting materials. During the third year a child can not only work with these materials in more depth, thus gaining more insights from them, but, using this base, can move into the academic areas. Once the child has established critical learning habits — concentration, self-discipline, a sense of order, persistence in completing a task, creative self-expression and a love for learning, (invaluable preparations for life), the third year reinforces these behaviors in a supportive, exciting environment. All preparations for later academic work and for social and emotional development, which have been so carefully nurtured in the three and four-year-old child, are reinforced in the grade R year. Finally, having learned from older children, shared with peers and helped younger children, the third year students now have the opportunity to assume leadership within the classroom. As one parent said, “everything my child had learned up to then seemed to fall into place, and he was ready to meet other challenges once he had this foundation.”

 

  • Won’t it be easier for my child to make the adjustment to public or private school at the grade R level rather than at some later date?

The goals of a Montessori classroom seem to be more closely related to those of a traditional first grade class than those of a traditional grade R. In most traditional grade R’s, the primary emphasis is on developing social skills with some preliminary work in cognitive readiness.   In a Montessori environment, the emphasis is on individual growth, which allows for cognitive development based on a firm foundation of sensory and motor skill training, making the transition into academic work so much easier for the child. This transition occurs naturally during the third year in a Montessori environment – without stress, pressure, or praise. At this point, a child who is ready will begin reading and working with math materials, in addition to other activities. Few conventional grade R’s are geared to do this or have children who have been prepared for such work, and therefore it is seldom, if at all, introduced until first grade. One father’s reason for preferring to stay with a Montessori education was:   “We considered the school years ahead. Children usually do their best if they have good learning habits, a sound basis in numbers and math, and the ability to read. We realized that our child had an excellent two year start in this Montessori school. Transferring now to grade R, the child will go no farther, whereas staying in Montessori ensures reaping the benefits of all past work under the enthusiastic guidance of teachers who share the child’s joy of learning.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Will a child have enough experience working in groups in a Montessori school to later become a successful group member in a traditional school?

A visit to Bright Light Montessori school will show that considerable socializing and grouping takes place naturally in the environment and that the children behave in a socially responsible and orderly manner.The Montessori approach eliminates many of the discipline problems found in more conventional environments. There are a few well-chosen ground rules which are consistently reinforced. The children learn to help one another, care for one another and for their environment. Children are free to talk and move around, are treated with respect, and are not controlled by fear or punishment.The ambience of the Montessori classroom provides the opportunity for more meaningful talking and social interactions than a  traditional environment. Thus, the young child is well prepared from the Montessori experience to act as a cooperative and skilled group member.

 

 

  • Do Montessori children transfer harmoniously into schools with other methods of educating?

Over the years we have witnessed many smooth transitions of Montessori children into all other kinds of learning environments from public to independent and private educational school systems. We recommend making this transition after your child has had the opportunity to complete the third year of the three-year Montessori classroom cycle, giving them closure within the academic curriculum, as well as the confidence gained from having been a leader and mentor in their classroom.   Whether the child attends private school or goes on to public school, Montessori education provides an excellent background for education. Children who complete the 3-year cycle are well prepared academically, emotionally and socially.  They have a strong academic foundation, but most importantly, they are usually adaptable, have a positive attitude toward learning, a sense of responsibility and respect for others. They have learned to work independently and in groups.  Since they have been encouraged to make decisions from an early age, these children are problem-solvers who can make choices and manage their time well.  They have also been encouraged to exchange ideas and to discuss their work freely with others and good communication skills ease the way in new settings. These qualities will serve them well in any future educational system whether it will be in continuing Montessori elementary education, public or traditional private institutions. Furthermore, research has shown that one of the best predictor of future success is a sense of self-esteem. Montessori programs, based on self-directed, non-competitive activities, help children develop good self-images and the confidence to face challenges and changes.

  • What makes a Montessori teacher different?

You will notice that Montessori teachers are often referred to as a Director/ Directress or Guides because what they do is direct and guide the child toward what he needs to teach himself. In the classroom, your child will be taught individually or in small groups. This allows the teacher to get immediate feedback and to see how well the child is absorbing the lesson and what questions or needs he/she may have. Each Montessori teacher has been trained in the science of child observation. They spend time every day observing the class: how it is functioning as a whole and how the children are progressing with their work. They use the Montessori materials to enhance the learning experience The Director/ Directress will observe your child, determine his/her level of development and what guidance they need to progress to the next level.

Fit Kids SA is an important part of the week, Sam from FitKids SA comes in and helps the children to grown those large gross motor muscles. Through fun for activity and joy for movement without a competitive element our Bright Lights have developed wonderful skills that carry over into their work inside the classroom and socialisation with each other.

Bright Light Montessori is a proud South African Montessori Association member, we are in process to gain FULL tier Membership which shows we are an Authentic Montessori School on par with Montessori schools worldwide.

Gardening is wonderful part of our lives at Bright Light Montessori, the children learn the beauty of nature and how to take care of a vegetable patch. From planting to watering and weeding to watching and waiting patiently for our first harvest. The Bright Lights have enjoyed eating carrots, spinach, tomatoes, potatoes and more this year. 

OUR DAILY PROGRAMME

Daily programme: Toddler

7:30 School opens – breakfast
7:30-9am work period
9-10am outside play
10:00-12:00 second work period with snack
12:00 home time
12:00-12:30 lunch for after care children
12:30-2:30 nap time
2:30 – 4:30pm outside play

4:30-5:30 quiet play before home time

Extra: FitKidsSA

Daily programme: Preschool

7:30 School opens – breakfast
7:30-8:30 outside play

8:30 – 11:30 work period (includes staggered snack time, art time)
11:30- 12:15 outside play
12:15 story time and wash hands
12:30 home time
12:30-1:00 lunch time for after care and extended programme
1:00-2:30 extended programme and quiet time ( nap time, drawing, reading in quiet)
2:30-4:30pm Free play outside / inside

4:30 – 5:30 Quiet play inside bore home time

Extra: FitKidsSA

Happy Children
Opening Day
How many classes

Year Dates 2020: (these dates are subject to change)

Term 1 start:14 January

21 March: Human Rights Day

Term 1 ends: 20 March

Term 2 start:31 March

27 April: Freedom Day

1 May: Workers’ Day

16 June: Youth Day

Term 2 ends:12 June

Term 3 starts: 7 July

9 August: National Woman’s Day

10 August: School Holiday

24 September: Heritage Day

25 September: School holiday

Term 3 ends:18 September

Term 4 starts:29 September

Term 4 ends: 11 December

Supporting the Community around us.

Where to find us

Preschool and Toddlers

The Preschool class is for those children aged 3-6 years old. The class has one Directress and one assistant. Child to Teacher ratio of 17:1.

Extras in the week are FitkidsSA, Gardening and baking.

The Toddler class is for the little ones aged 15 months to 3 years. This classroom is for those beginning stages of education development. Developing the love for exploration, learning language and the love to learn. In this class there is one directress and one assistant. Toilet learning is developed in this environment. Child to Teacher ration of 6:1.

 

Extras in the week are FitkidsSA and baking.

TODDLER CLASS

AGES 15 MONTHS TO 3 YEARS

PRESCHOOL CLASS

AGE 3-6 YEARS (WITH GRADE R)

OUR ADDED EXTRAS

GARDENING, BAKING AND FIT KIDS SA

AFTER SCHOOL CARE

12:00 -3 PM FILLED WITH CREATIVITY, IMAGINATIVE PLAY AND EXPLORATION

Your Children

Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.

The greatest sign of success for a teacher…is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’

Established lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.

-Maria Montessori

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Safety

Security is of the most importance, all children are watched by all staff and ensured that they are cared for at all times.

For emotional security the Toddlers are allowed to bring blankets, dummies or anything that allows them to feel more secure.

Happiness

Morning drop off can be tough on the little ones and parents, during this time the directress and assistants ensure that there is enough to distract their attention away from this separation but will make contact with the parent to ensure their child is happy.

Education

Goals

 

The goal of Montessori is to introduce children to experiences which:

  • Provide a warm and loving environment in which each child feels secure, respected and loved.
  • Support and encourage the growth and development of the whole child.
  • Develop social skills, emotional growth, physical coordination, as well as cognitive preparation.
  • Help build self-confidence, self-esteem and motivation.
  • Foster the natural desire to learn.
  • Develop freedom within limits.
  • Develop and refine each child’s sensory motor skills.
  • Lengthen each child’s attention span.
  • Enable each child to move smoothly and purposefully.
  • Encourage the development of creativity in each child.
  • Provide a framework of discipline through which each child can develop self-discipline and personal strength.
  • Provide an environment with safe limits in which each child can become an active explorer and learner.
  • Provide opportunities for each child to develop social grace and courtesy.
  • Develop skills in observation, questioning and listening.
  • Prompt order, coordination, concentration and independence.
  • Refine and develop each child’s physical and mental capabilities and interests as they expand.
  • Help develop respect for themselves, for others, and for their environment.

Your children’s education and wellfare are our main priorities

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