“Most of what I really need to know about how to live, what to do and how to be, I learned in kindergarten...
Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Live a balanced life. Learn some, think some, dance, play and work every day some.
When you go out into the world watch for traffic, hold hands, stick together and remember the little seeds in the plastic cup - the roots go down and the plant goes up... And we are all like that.”
R Fulgham. All I Need to Know (adapted with apologies)
A life in the day of a child at Beckett House
Any child attending any nursery whose raison d’être is the education and the preparation for a full life is taking the first steps into a fascinating and wonderful world of learning and experience.
It is the wonders of this world; the world within and those worlds beyond, that form the basis of the educational philosophy of Beckett House.
Projects such as ‘My Body’, ‘Mini Beasts’, ‘Outer Space’, ‘People who help us’, ‘Continents of the world’ encourage children to love the rollercoaster of learning that is the early life of a child at Beckett House because it is this love for learning that creates a child’s faith in its own abilities. - And it all starts at nursery.
Welcome time and early activities
All-day children are welcomed at Beckett House from 8.30 and morning children from 9.00; hanging their coats on their own peg, removing their shoes and putting on their slippers. All children are encouraged to choose an activity such as drawing or reading or more.
These will include Montessori specific resources such practical life i.e. pouring and transferring liquids and objects; activities that stimulate their senses such as knobbed cylinders, pink tower, the objectives of which is to develop the child’s understanding of proportions, coordination, fine motor skills, preparation for maths etc, this first activity being part of the Montessori work cycle.
For instance, when putting away their mat they are shown to roll it and put it away.
All these activities are monitored by members of staff who encourage the children to increase their knowledge and abilities. Some may be beginning the development of their writing skills using sandpaper letters, other putting words together to make small sentences. Others may be ‘following the dots’ and learning to write their names or other words.
Free flow morning snack
Shortly after the day begins children are able to, independently, have a snack and a drink. The snack is a free-flow time where children are able to finish something on which they were working and then sit down at the table and help themselves to such things as rice cakes, plain biscuits, pitta bread and humus, bread sticks, fruit and vegetable sticks such as cucumber and carrot etc, accompanied by water or milk to drink. After which they are encouraged to wash their own plates and cups.
We track who have had a snack using the big names. Each child has to find their name and then place it in a bucket so members of staff can monitor those who have and those who have not has a snack.
Each day, after the work cycle, which is a minimum of two and a half hours, there is an opportunity for the children to join in an extracurricular activity. These may include drama, music and dance, yoga or French. After these activities and before lunch the children will be asked to wash their hands and prepare for their lunch.
Lunch - a time to sit together and socialize
Lunch is freshly prepared every day in the nursery’s own kitchen; meals such as roast chicken, fish, pasta, stews and a variety of fresh desserts and fruit. The children all sit together are expected to use knives, forks and spoons and where appropriate serve themselves.
After lunch those children that remain at nursery for the afternoon will have a lie down and mostly manage to sleep until the afternoon children arrive.
After the rest, there are opportunities for the children to use the trampoline, see-saw hopper, outdoor ball games and playing in the sand-pit. These activities are essential to stimulate their physical needs and gross motor skills
Morning and afternoon 10 minutes only group time where children often take turns to discuss a topic or a toy of their choice.
This is followed by the Montessori work cycle and then a story.
Story time and home
Towards the end of the day a story is usually read while the children are collected between 5.00 and 5.30.
Time in the park – come rain or come shine; and even Snow!
Beckett House is fortunate to be located in Islington N1; close to a number of parks, garden squares and children’s playgrounds and the children are frequently taken out even on some occasions when it is raining or snowing – they just love the snow!
Many nurseries charge for such extra-curricular activities as ballet, music, language lessons etc. Beckett House does not. All these extra lessons are free of charge and this has been the policy since Beckett House opened and is in order to ensure that all children are included. This is our current extra-curricular activity timetable but it changes from time-to-time.
This usually involves a story told by the teacher that will be adapted to music and dance for the children to act out.
The music teacher, who usually plays the guitar will sings songs with the children. He will bring various instruments that the children can use and they will all join in the singing, often requesting songs themselves.
The music teacher also accompanies the children for the School Nativity Play every Christmas
The drama teacher will bring stories for the children and sometimes the children suggest stories in which they will all act.
These involve all kinds of expressive actions for example mime where the children will pretend to be chewing gum, or pulling faces, or helping daddy dig the garden.
The classes encourage actions and movement, which are often themed around our current nursery topic and/or celebration, accompanied by music.
A qualified sports teacher brings various sports equipment for activities such as; ball control, ball and racquet, hurdles, mini golf etc. They get the children up and running, introducing them to many different physical exercises involving hurdles/ball skills/hockey/badminton and obstacle races.
Beckett House reserves the right to alter timetable without notice.
Activities which lead to capability, independence and self-esteem: dressing frames, shoe tying, sweeping, washing and drying, polishing, plaiting, sewing, pouring, filling...
Activities that develop the senses: colour tablets, sound boxes, sandpaper tablets, cylinder blocks, the pink tower, thermal tablets, geometric solids.
Art and craft
Painting; drawing; stencilling; collage. Introducing the use of glue, paint, wax crayons, finger painting, splatter and spray painting, marbling, printing, varnishing, paper-mâché and glitter, all with various papers and fabrics.
These materials are specifically designed to give the children a sound understanding of numbers and mathematical concepts. The first exercises are all sensorial, leading gradually to more abstract exercises and understanding. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, tables, fractions, squares and cubes are all part of the mathematics curriculum.
Sensorial materials are used before more formal reading methods are introduced. Hand and finger movement and control are the basis of many Montessori activities in order to ensure that handwriting ability is gained without difficulty or frustration. The library corner is open and well-stocked to encourage interest and freedom of choice in both reading activity and material.
globes, maps, flags, country and cultural projects. Focusing on one country or continent for project work throughout the year encourages the children to learn more about the world in which they live.
Culture- Botany and nature work
the study of plants using experiments, comparison exercises and a constantly changing nature table. Outings to the Natural History Museum, local parks and gardens are arranged throughout the year.
the study of domestic and exotic animals using posters, charts, models.
Culture- Science and biology:
basic laws of light, gravity, sound and magnetism. Simple instruction in aspects of the human body, i.e. skeleton, body parts, gender, senses, digestion.