As a school that is based on the Montessori philosophy of combining different age groups, Watering Whole caters to children at different stages in their development. As such, one of the ways we manage their different needs/levels, is to provide extension opportunities for the children in the older age range.
This is made possible by the low numbers we keep to at the school and our excellent adult-child ratio. Therefore whilst the older children receive extension lessons at times during the day/week, the younger ones take part in different activities supervised by the other teachers.
What will my child be doing in the ‘Giraffes’ Extension Group?
Your child will continue to take part in all the regular routines and activities with all the children (ring time, story time, exercise sessions, etc), but will also be spending time in a small group situation (with the other ‘Giraffes’) being ‘extended’ in the various activities. This might involve moving on to more advanced exercises, learning more songs, doing more intricate artwork/project work, etc.
Depending on the theme for the term, the ‘Giraffes’ spend time together furthering their knowledge and skills in that particular area/theme as well as touch on other concepts surrounding that theme.
For example, if we are focusing on numbers as our main theme of the term, during “1 Red Robin week” while we are focusing on the number 1 specifically, we will also look at the colour red, read poems and produce artwork (using cut out shapes) about robins. Whilst we do all this, we are utilising different senses and aids – visuals in stories, art, nature and the environment; sounds in songs, stories, discussions; touch and textures through tactile experiences in art (using feathers and other different materials). We often try to bring smell and taste into our themes/topics having themed cooking/baking (e.g. smell tests and taste tests of different coloured foods during our colours focus).
All throughout our work together we practice fine motor skills work (writing, cutting, pasting and playing many games and exercises as well), hone listening skills through different activities (reading longer stories together, answering questions based on text, holding discussions and conversations on different topics). The extension group takes on more responsibilities and works towards developing the maturity and independence necessary for big school (helping set up activities, tidy up/pack away, sit quietly for longer periods on concentrated work/exercises, etc.)
On top of this, we try to spend time focusing on each area of school life doing extension work in that area. For instance in life skills we may work on building emotional intelligence through taking turns, sharing, looking out for each other, learning to empathise, practicing conflict resolution through problem solving in role play, etc. The giraffes also spend time doing extension work in nature/gardening/science, in music/orchestra, art, playball and other physical exercise activities, as well as sometimes work in a group, as a team, during cooking/baking.
We also have a range of Montessori materials that are used to further develop basic literacy and numeracy skills in the older children in preparation for entering ‘big school’. These are used in combination with worksheets that focus on introducing the children to the basics of writing letters and numbers.
All this is done with the intention of successfully helping each child to prepare in all the relevant areas to meet with demands and responsibilities they will face as they move on into Grade R. This final year spent with the children at the Watering Whole is such an exciting and enriching time, as we embark on many new challenges, spend time working through more complex activities and consolidate all we have done over our precious years together!