The Montessori equipment, additional games and supplementary equipment are instrumental in supporting children’s learning through incremental developmental steps. Children take turns at choosing games for the small group to play. Our teachers use these opportunities to foster learning and with five teachers there is a lot of teacher child engagement with games that are FUN. When children are inside and engaged in ‘work-time’ games there are also areas of free play available such as free art, play dough, and puzzles. Children at Horizons are free to choose their own activities, to try new challenges, learn new skills and develop new interests. Older children participate in formal activities such as writing, maths, language development, scissor skills and transition to school activities at a separate table known as the extension table. Younger children who wish to participate are also encouraged to join in. Learning is so much fun at Horizons that children are eager to be part of activities.
The monthly programme focus is based around children’s interests and is a mixture of planned and emergent activities based on our observations of children. Whenever possible visitors are invited to attend the preschool to further develop the children’s interests. Visitors often include family members and our local community members with whom we have established relationships over the years. The programme is evaluated each month, with input from the children about their highlights and new knowledge. This discussion with the children usually shows the direction for the next month’s programme, or may be determined by exciting coming events, or areas children show an interest in investigating further. Each programme is inter-related, evaluated and has strong links to Te Whāriki, and the Montessori curriculum.