Early Years

Recognizing, and respecting the importance of, the small child's contribution to the world


“The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.”
Maria Montessori

Westmont early years in the forest

The amazing Westmont Early Years (Pre-school & Kindergarten) program is the foundation for all the future success your child will see their education from Grade school and beyond. 80% of a child’s mental development takes place before the child is eight years old, and quality education during this period is critical.

The Montessori classroom is a very different place from the conventional classroom most of us attended. In Montessori, the “prepared environment” is a term used to describe a classroom that has been designed to maximise each student’s exploration and learning.

Dr. Montessori believed that children learned best by doing, not by passively accepting the ideas and preexisting knowledge of others. The Montessori method requires the active personal pursuit of many different experiences: physical, social, emotional and cognitive.

Thank you for considering entrusting Westmont with your child’s education.


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Stories from Early Years

Belle in kindergarten decided that she wanted to make a ‘book of math’. On her own she glued pages together and wrote in a title on the cover page. She then wrote out challenging math problems on the pages of the book and set about solving them. Using the materials in the classroom, and even combining different materials to meet her needs (and without input from the teachers) she worked her way through the problems she had set herself. Completing problems that would more usually be tackled in grade three classes Belle finished her ‘Book of Math’ with a sense of satisfaction that comes from a job well done.

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The Montessori Early Years Program


Nicky Macdonald, one Westmont Montessori School’s teacher trainers, instructs new teachers on the Montessori Method.  Below, Nicky provides a personal account of what a Montessori classroom is like.

After more than 14 years as a Montessori pre-school teacher, I am still constantly amazed and delighted by the never-ending diversity of children that I meet.  It always feels like such a privilege to be able to spend my time getting to know these children, discovering their unique personalities and individual challenges.  What is perhaps equally amazing is that I have yet to meet a child who, when treated with patience, love and respect, within the freedom of the prepared Montessori classroom, has not grown and blossomed as they have been able to learn and develop in their own particular way, moving towards the fulfilment of their potential within the supportive Montessori environment.

The first time I spent a morning in a Montessori classroom, I was struck by the sense of peace and calm that I experienced and by how independent the young children seemed.  They moved around the room in control of their actions, choosing their own work, tidying up, offering help to their friends, preparing their own snack, changing their own clothes and carrying out all of this without the apparent direction of their teacher.  For large parts of the morning, I was hardly aware of the teacher being in the room as she worked intently with one child or another, while all around her was a busy hum of activity as the other children moved from one independently chosen task to another.

I have found this feeling of calm, busy energy in each of the Montessori classes that I have worked in, and I have come to realize that it is the freedom that the child experiences that makes it this way: freedom of movement, freedom to choose their own activities, and freedom to engage in these activities for as long as they want, within the order of a well prepared and interesting environment.  These conditions allow the child, no matter what their particular personality, challenges, or background, to find peace and happiness.  It is from this place of well-being and contentment that their desire to learn develops naturally and spontaneously.


  • The "Children's House"

    Montessori schools are often called the “Children’s House” because everything in them is designed to allow the child to become physically independent.  The materials are child sized and the equipment is laid out in an orderly fashion on low shelves that are easily accessible for the children. The equipment is beautiful and well cared for, which encourages the children to take care of it too. Children between the ages of approximately two-and-a-half and six years are grouped together in their own mini society. The youngest learn from watching the older children, and the older ones benefit by helping those younger than they. The mixed age group allows the children to naturally develop socially, intellectually and emotionally.

  • Independence

    In a Montessori school, children choose their activities independently and move freely from one activity to the next – always returning things to the shelf after they have used them. In an atmosphere of calm, young children concentrate for surprisingly long periods of time, working individually, in a group or with a friend. Ideally the morning or afternoon session lasts for a minimum of three hours; three hours in which there is no particular timetable, where the children are not only free to choose the activities they wish to work with, but are also free to work with them for as long as they wish. Groups can then arise spontaneously according to the interests of the children. Maria Montessori observed that this extended period of time was essential for the children to develop their ability to concentrate.

  • Prepared Environment

    Maria Montessori based her system of education upon her careful observations of children.  She saw that children “built themselves” based upon their interactions with what they found in their environment, and that it was by being able to work with real objects that they had freely chosen, and by being respected as individuals, that they could teach and develop themselves.  Freedom within a structured environment enables a child to work at creating the person he/she will become.  A Montessori classroom provides freedom whilst maintaining an environment that encourages a sense of order and self-discipline.


When is a Child Ready for the Montessori Classroom?


The Early Primary Montessori classroom is designed for children between the ages of 2.5 and 6 years.  All children are different, and some are developmentally ready before others.  The following are a few examples of behaviours a child must display to be developmentally ready to begin preschool:

  • Able to communicate needs to the teacher and other children appropriately. Children who are too young will just cry when they need something, and will be very frustrated in an environment that is not meeting their needs.
  • Able to be independent in the bathroom. See toileting policy.
  • Able to sit quietly and complete an activity. Children who are too young for this type of classroom will take many activities out, work on them for only a short amount of time without completing anything, and then move on to something else without putting the previous activities away.
  • Will take suggestions from a teacher of work s/he is ready for. A child who is not ready will pull away from the teacher, or will display unwillingness to go with the teacher by lying on the floor, running away, etc.
  • Will allow teachers to show him/her how to use the activities on the shelf. A child who is developmentally too young will not be able to wait, watch or take in the process for doing the work.
  • Is happy to sit at circle time and listen to stories and engage in activities. A child who is too young will not be able to attend to group situations, sit for stories, participate in games, etc.
  • Able to follow simple directions for procedures like lining up, washing hands, putting on coat to go outside. The child does not have to be able to do these things perfectly, but has to be willing to listen to and follow instructions.
  • Able to stay with group and participate to the best of their ability, following the teachers’ instructions, when on hikes, beach days and during morning outdoor exercise. This is to ensure their safety as well as the others in the class.

When considering accepting a child, we have not only to consider the readiness of the individual child but also the needs of the whole classroom.  Children who are too young take an extraordinary amount of a teacher’s time to the detriment of the classroom as a whole.  We want every child to be happy in the classroom which means that they need to be developmentally ready for the experience.

Tuition and Fees

The following gives the fee structure for the Middle School program. For full admissions details on the family bond, discounts available, withdrawal policy, please see our Admissions page.

Early Primary

Annual Fees

$8844

Short Day Program
(pick up at 12:15)

$11 796

Full Day Program

Monthly Fees

$737

Short Day Program
(pick up at 12:15)

$983

Full Day Program

Monthly Tuition Installments are paid July 2020 to June 2021

 

Other Monthly Fees

Capital Fee
(per Family)

$34.17

Before and After School Care
(if used)

$$2.25 per 1/4 hour

School Supply

$4.30


Kindergarten

Annual Fees

$9780

Full Day Program

Monthly Fees

$815

Full Day Program

Monthly Tuition Installments are paid July 2020 to June 2021

 

Other Monthly Fees

Capital Fee
(per Family)

$34.17

Before and After School Care
(if used)

$$2.25 per 1/4 hour

School Supply

$4.30

Frequently Asked Questions