“The secret of success in education is found to lie in the right use of imagination in awakening interest, and the stimulation of seeds of interest already sown.”
Gardening, Baking, Music, Cultures of the World, Art and Sports are the general workshops present through the school year on afternoon sessions.
The Theatre workshop is open to children of 5 years old.
The gardening workshop
From their first day at school the children are immersed in nature.
In class, they care for the plants, water them, clean them, take away the dead leaves and cut off dry branches.
In the garden, they rake the autumn leaves and pick up the little branches broken off by the wind. They plant bulbs in the autumn and collect the last vegetable in the vegetable garden before winter.
They learn to distinguish weeds from other plants, which they care for all year round.
They familiarize themselves with the insects of the region and with the birds, which they feed during winter.
They keep up the flowerbeds in the playground and water them during the dry seasons. The first radishes are planted in the vegetable garden. The children plough, sow, cover with earth and delicately water.
Regularly through the week, a small group accompanied by a directress care, observe and work away in the vegetable garden.Back in class, they share what they saw and did and what is still to be done.
The picking [harvesting] is done through the last weeks of June and the first weeks of September. The fruits and vegetables are admired then washed and finally shared for snack.
No chemical products are used.
A Pastry workshop is organised for children from 2 to 6 years old all year round.
It is a sensorial activity where children in a small group manipulate various textures, tastes and smells.
It is also a practical life activity in which they learn to master their coordination in cutting, pouring, mixing and measuring.
Finally it is primarily a social activity. The children work together on a common project so as to share it with the others at snack time.
The children prepare pastries from all over the world as well as the traditional cakes for Christmas, Epiphany and Easter.
The Music Workshop is introduced to the children as they enter the Wee Class at 2 years old. In The Big Class, they meet in small groups once a week in the Music Room.
After a few exercises to worm up their vocal cords and their bodies, the children explore the musical instruments through games adapted to their age level. Listening, the quality of the musical touch and the sound produced, awareness of the movement, the expression are highlighted.
Games around the hand are presented to develop the children’s ability to hold and play the instruments.
They are also gradually introduced to the writing of music: from symbolic writing to the first musical notes.
Though different types of music, the child learns to explore his creativity, his own movement and to control his body. It is a sensorial and global approach.
The instruments used are real traditional instruments from all over the world. Although simple to use they produce an excellent sound.
Arts and Culture
In the Big Class, Arts and Culture are presented as a whole throughout the school year.
Every geographical area is first explored with the Montessori material. We discover its mythology, its children’s literature, its nursery rhymes, its rhythm and its language.
We taste its dishes, its textiles and its dance.
Then, when one observes a painting from one of its artists, the country seems less foreign to us: one dares to interpret, to feel the colours, the landscapes seem less obscure.
Theater workshop (from 5 years on)
The workshop follows a Montessori language activity:
A mat is placed at the centre of the room; on the mat there are 3 small objects.
The child is asked to invent a story from these objects using them as characters.
The adult writes up the story ”word for word” as the child tells it.Once the story is finished, the child listens to his creation and then becomes the director. He chooses children from the group as his characters and places them on stage.
Then he returns with the rest of the group and the miming of his play can start!
Physical activity and sports are necessary because a child needs to move.
Just look at how young people run around the playground! They have energy to spare and the advantage of sport is to allow the harmonious development of body and mind. Thanks to sport, the child discovers his body, his limits, his aptitudes, and thus learns to know himself better.
The physical effort also allows to evacuate the tensions and anxieties…just like a sometimes overflowing energy. The young person thus learns to manage and control his emotional impulses and to better understand and adjust his reactions.
Sport is also a great way to socialize : there are rules, we have to respect each other, it's a great way to instil benchmarks that will be useful for the future, such as living together.
By contributing to self-affirmation, stabilizing tension and relieving excess excitement, sport also allows a better attention span and a psychic availability favorable to learning.
In addition, beyond personal development and the pleasure generated by sporting activity, the child discovers and practices activities that he is not used to doing such as orienteering, cycling, gymnastics and dance, opposition game and wrestling, athletic activities. He also progresses in activities that he knows and masters such as team games and ball games.
The objective of Montessori pedagogy is to develop self-esteem, self-confidence, concentration, autonomy, curiosity, the desire and the pleasure of learning, sport therefore appears as one of the important levers on which we can rely to achieve this objective.
Physical education and sports appear as a means of personal fulfillment within the collective. ( Pierre Forgeront/ Teacher and PE teacher at EMI)