Spring Term: Feasts, Fun and Lots of Learning.
Spring term is underway and at Hedley park we are delighted to report that we are busy enjoying all that our unique environment has to offer. We truly are in a wonderful location and with the refurbishment of Merrion Square park in progress, our students are able to make the most of our historic, creative and natural environment.
The renewed play and exploration area is most welcome and very popular when we go out on nature walks or just to burn off some excess energy. Being a well read bunch our students love the fact that the inspiration for the play area came from our much loved Oscar Wilde and his story of the Selfish Giant. Dublin City created a lovely illustrated version of the story if you’d like to explore it with your child at home.
A big news story so far this terms has to be the receiving of our own copy of the 1916 Proclamation from the Irish Army Officials. In the preparatory school classes, the students are very aware of the historic and cultural significance of the upcoming centenary celebrations. The commencement of the republic as an independent nation has some resonance with them as they continue to work towards making their own independent place in the family, the classroom and indeed the world around them. The presentation itself was a wonderful experience for the whole school and was fittingly officiated by our most senior student.
As a staff member its wonderful to see our students grow in stature, knowledge and independence from the 2yr old toddlers that come into the nursery to our 10 and 11yr old senior students, we have time to learn and grow with the student and their family. Child lead learning is key in any quality Montessori environment and that is in evidence everywhere in the Hedley Park experience. We can certainly say that in being part of the learning story of some of our more senior students we have learned about topics we as staff would otherwise never have approached. The child’s interests and questions lead their exploration of subjects and each child brings a unique perspective that we are honoured to ensure they develop and strengthen. This natural inquisitiveness, eagerness to be challenged and joy in learning is a trait of Montessori educated individuals long after they progress beyond our halls.
Our nursery class have been exploring many subjects, from Geography to Poetry, Natural Sciences to Maths. Of course the underlying core within all our classroom activities is the development of the individual learner and their own independence and confidence in their ability to learn. Children of this stage need to be active, involved and engaged with the topic. The need sensory input in order to establish the facts of the lesson deep within their schema of knowledge. What we mean by this as Montessori practitioners, is that children learning through the method don’t just parrot back rhymes of numbers, sounds and topics, but through the materials and lessons they can absorb the quantity, shape, weight, feeling, sound and concrete truth of the numbers, letters, and basic building blocks of the world around them. It is through the connection of the hand to feel, the eyes to see and the mind to comprehend that the child internalises the abstract idea and makes it real and useful to them for the rest of their life long learning.
Our Junior class students are ready for some slight abstraction from the concrete learning of the nursery, but they are still very active and hands on in their quest for knowledge. In the early part of the spring term the group turned their attention to the continent of Australia. It’s a topic that students from the nursery will have already been introduced, however as the students have developed from nursery so have their interests and the learning at Junior Class level is deeper and more involved. Animals and the natural environment are intriguing to children of this age, being well versed in the natural landscape around them here in Ireland they are now intellectually capable of comparison with a new continent. This comparison to the known gives rise to the wonder and interest to explore further, coupled with a wealth of information sources at their disposal the child’s inner drive to learn is well rewarded. It is these positive formative experiences in learning that build a solid desire to learn that will remain within the child driving their learning and questioning for life.
Our Senior Class students are well versed in the abstract, with a very solid knowledge and base at their feet they stride out into some unique and challenging subject areas. Spring term has witnessed deep exploration into what Montessori termed the “Great Lessons” these 5 groups of lessons explain how and why the earth, life and civilisation came to be.
For a child, the Great Lessons spark the imagination and lead students to contemplate not only the past, but the future. It is through the telling (and re-telling) of these important cosmic lessons that students are motivated to further research and works in the Montessori classroom. Our seniors have been furthering their exploration of the second Great Lesson, Life Comes to Earth. Fascinated by the Era’s timeline the students have been using the materials available to create their own versions. Large work projects like this don’t just further the child’s subject knowledge, but deepens their independent working skills, self motivation, concentration, negotiation and in part team work. Watching a senior Montessori class like our is a joy, the learning and experiences are so varied and multi-layered, cross subject and skill development is naturally occurring in each moment of the day.
Our school community relish their extracurricular activities and classes, and in February it wasn’t just knowledge we were relishing, but yummy food in our Chinese New Year Banquet. Hosted by our Mandarin teacher the banquet has become a tradition of the Hedley Park calendar. This year we got the opportunity to make dumplings in the class and share them with our Emperor and Empress at the feast. It is a lovely occasion for the students and a very colourful and unique experience each year.
Another extracurricular experience this spring, was a trip to the local amenity that is the National Concert Hall. We are privileged to have such national treasures on our doorstep and luckily we are in a position to enjoy them when possible. On this occasion the Junior and senior prep school classes were treated to a very hands-on and interactive workshop in music and percussion. It was fantastic morning of sound and energy exploration that the children and their teachers thoroughly enjoyed. I have it on good authority that we will return for future workshops as it was a complete success.
So ends our update from the first half of the spring term, we have many new lessons, and events coming in the second half of the term. Beginning with our Proclamation Day on the 16th March, more details on the calendar and in school.
In the meantime please enjoy the gallery of our images from the Spring Term so far.