Our Unique Curriculum
At Meadowbrook we are proud of our extensive hybrid curriculum which we consider to be broad, inspiring and well balanced. We also provide a varied selection of after-school Clubs and supplement our class learning with a wide range of visiting speakers, outings to places of interest and workshops.
Our curriculum is not only inspired by the Montessori programme of study but also takes into account the National Curriculum objectives. We use a variety of published schemes of work in conjunction with the Montessori materials and encourage our children to develop strong research skills.
Specifically regarding our Reception Class, The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It promotes teaching and learning to ensure children’s ‘school readiness’ and gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that the government believes provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life. Meadowbrook’s Reception curriculum is designed to ensure that all the Early Learning Goals are met comprehensively.
Some of the Montessori elements of our hybrid curriculum delivered throughout the school are highlighted below as well as overview documents for further information. Meadowbrook parents also receive termly curriculum overviews known as ‘Rough Guides’.
Reading & Language Arts
Our curriculum proceeds toward more challenging reading material starting with reading and spelling of words that contain irregularities and further study of the complexities of the English language . It includes:
- Creative writing skills.
- Reading specially selected books on topics that interest the child.
- Dictionary skills.
- Interpretive reading for comprehension at increasing levels of difficulty.
- Use of library & reference books for both research and pleasure.
- Composition: Stories, poems, news articles, oral & written reports.
- Word Study: compound words, contractions, singular-plural, masculine, feminine, prefixes, suffixes, synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, etc.
- Modern Foreign Languages – French, German and Spanish (taught from Reception)
The Montessori approach recognises that reading skills and handwriting skills do not develop at the same rate. However, once the child has developed the fine motor skills necessary for pencil control, we begin the work on printing. (Age 3) Eventually, the two areas of study: Reading & Writing do work together to complete the Language Arts portion of our curriculum. Through the use of specific apparatus, the children are given the opportunity to prepare his or her fine motor skills as a preparation for the task of printing. Traditional emphasis on penmanship is stressed at Meadowbrook Montessori School. Children are encouraged to take pride in their printed/written work. Our course of study includes:
- Preparatory activities using specialised Montessori apparatus develops fine motor skills leading to pencil control.
- Sandpaper letters activate the child’s muscular memory in the correct formation of the printed letter. Tracing letters with the use of pencil & paper.
- Copying letters progressing into copying of words.
- Freehand printing.
- Printing on lined paper and understanding fine-tuning letter formation.
- Cursive writing is introduced when printing technique has been mastered.
- Word processing and use of the computer to transfer the printed work and develop computer skills.
- Calligraphy skills
The study of grammar begins almost immediately after the child begins to read when he is spontaneously interested in language.
In line with our Montessori foundations, we approach this area of study with a concrete to abstract methodology. All words and concepts are related to the child’s own environment to make grammar meaningful.
Our Programme of Study begins with the concrete use of Montessori Grammar Symbols and stories concerning each part of speech designed to inspire children and enable an understanding of grammar through experiential means. Study topics include:
- Sentence Analysis: simple and compound sentence
- Irregular Verbs
- Study of Style
- Study of grammatical arrangements in other languages
- National Curriculum Grammar expectations are also covered within this element of language
Mathematics & Geometry
From an understanding of the decimal system enabled in Reception beginning with a concrete appreciation of quantities 0-10, then the associated symbol, then the combination of the two, teens and simple mathematical operations, Development and reinforcement of this groundwork in Mathematics continues into Year 1 and beyond. Again, the concrete to abstract method is employed using manipulative materials suited to each task with activities moving systematically from simple to more complex. A small selection of work is identified below.
- Multiplication: development into long multiplication using complex apparatus, memorisation of multiplication facts, progress to abstract work with paper & pencil problems.
- Division: introduction of concept of division, long division, development toward pencil & paper problems.
- Subtraction: simple and complex problems.
- Study of Fractions: names, symbols, equivalencies, common denominators, simple addition, multiplication, division and subtraction.
- Problem Solving: involving tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands and millions.
- Reading of the Clock: review and further study.
- Introduction to Equations: solving problems involving parentheses, i.e., (3 x 4) – (2 + 9) = ?
- Missing Sign Problems: i.e., in a given situation, should you add, divide, subtract or multiply?
- Study of Decimal Fractions: all four mathematical operations.
- Money: units, history, equivalent sums, foreign currencies (units & exchange).
- Interest: concrete to abstract, principal, rate & time, real life problems.
- Computing Squares & Cubes of Numbers: cubes & squares of binomials and trinomials.
- Calculating Square & Cube Roots.
- History of Mathematics & Its Application in Science, Engineering, Technology & Economics.
- Basic Data Gathering, Graph Reading & Preparation, Statistical Analysis.
Starting off simply, it goes on to include:
- Study of Nomenclature, Characteristics, Measurement and Drawing of the Geometric Shape.
- Points, Line, Angle, Surface, Solid, Properties of Triangles, Circles, etc.
- Congruence, Similarity, Equality and Equivalence.
- History of Application of Geometry.
- Theorem of Pythagoras
- Calculation of Area and Volume.
- Puzzle Maps: These are specially made maps in the forms of intricate, colour coded, wooden jigsaw puzzles representing the Continents, Countries of the World and The British Isles.
- Water & Land Formations: Specially designed 3 dimensional apparatus, study of island, isthmus, peninsula, strait, bay, lake, cape, archipelago.
- Transference to Maps: introduction to written names and forms of maps, study of flora, fauna, landscapes and people of the continents.
- Maps & Compass: longitude & latitude, co-ordinate position on the globe, the Earth’s poles, magnetic poles, history and use of the compass, topographic maps, global positioning satellite devices, electronic charts.
- Introduction to Humankind’s Search to Understand How Earth Was Formed: from creation stories to evidence of contemporary scientific research , origins, geologic forces, formations of oceans and atmosphere, continental drift and tectonic plates, volcanoes, earth quakes, ice age, formation of mountain ranges.
- Study of Coasts and Land Relief’s: hills, mountain ranges, volcanoes, valleys, plains, etc. their formation, animal life, and effect on people.
- Study of Hydrosphere: ocean, rivers, lakes, the water cycle.
- Study of Countries: flags, boundaries, food, climate, traditional dress, houses, cities, stamps, coins, foods, art, music history.
- Study of Regions: culture, natural resources of United Kingdom, geography, climate, flora & fauna, rivers & lakes, capitals, people etc.
- Detailed Study of One Nation at a Time: all aspects of a nation are considered.
- Natural Resources of the Earth.
- Production: how natural resources are used by humankind.
- Imports and Exports: the interdependence of nations.
History & Social Studies
- Basic Needs of Man: food, shelter, clothing, defence, transportation, culture, law, religion, love and adornment.
- Concept of Time and Historical Time: (developed through many activities and repeated at deeper complexity from Pre-School level upwards), telling time on the clock -time lines of child’s lifetime lines showing activities of a day, week, month, year, Family trees, timeline of Earth’s history, time line from 8,000 B.C. to 2,000 A.D. to study ancient to modern history.
- The story of Evolution of the Planet: life forms over aeons.
- Trends in Human Achievement: development of transportation, architecture, great inventions, great leaders.
- Early Human Life in Society: study of early societies in terms of food, clothing, shelter, defence, transportation, medicine, arts, entertainment, government, religion.
- Advanced elementary biology study: the names and functions of different forms of leaves, flowers, seeds, trees, plants, and animals.
- Study of the internal parts of vertebrates: limbs, body coverings, lungs, heart, skeleton, and reproduction.
- Advanced study of plants in class, greenhouse and garden: experimenting with soil, nutrients, light, etc.
- More advanced study of the animal kingdom: classification by class and phyla.
- The plant kingdom: study of the major families of plant life on the Earth and classification by class and phyla.
- Life cycles: water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen.
- Introduction to chemistry: the three states of matter, basic atomic theory, how elements are created through stellar fusion, elements and compounds, Mendeleev’s table of the elements, basic molecular theory: building atomic models, physical and chemical changes, research into the elements and continued study of the periodic table, introduction to chemistry lab experiments
- Introduction to the physical sciences: geology and mineralogy, meteorology, astronomy and cosmology, elementary physics: light, electricity, magnetic fields, gravity, mass.
- Preparing and analysing all sorts of graphs and data displays: basic statistics.
- Team Sports
- Weekly Swimming
Art & Music
- Design and Technology
- Choral Singing
- Music (theory and practice)
- Drama & Public Speaking
- Instrumental Music including recorder, piano and wind instruments
These are exercises in perception, observation, fine discrimination, and classification that play a major role in helping our children to develop their sense of logic and concentration. They begin at age 3 and are a major area of concentration typically through to the age of 5 which, in the Primary students, lead to such exercises as:
- Precise observation of the natural world
- Culinary discrimination
- Artistic appreciation
- Architectural appreciation
- Musical appreciation
Practical Life activities continue logically so that older children in Primary learn such practical tasks as:
- Caring for animals
- Cooking complex meals
- Working with tools
- Making simple repairs
- Making consumer purchase decisions, comparison shopping, budgeting, calculating interest
- Applying for a job or interview technique
- Earning spending money
- Mastering test taking strategies
- Caring for young children
- Making clothes / sewing
- Running a small business enterprise
Technology / Information Technology
Computing and programming
Personal, Social & Health Education
- Personal, Social & Health Education (PSHE)
- Relationship and Sex Education (RSE)
- Conflict Resolution
- Current Affairs
- Positive Discipline Skills
- Grace & Courtesy Skills
- Secondary School Preparation, Common Entrance Practice and Interview technique (years 3 – 6 only)
Every year, Year 3 & 4 and Year 5 & 6 go on their own residential excursions. This could be an Outward Bound Activity Trip, a residential visit to Ufton Court or an overseas trip involving immersion into the culture and language of the region. Throughout the year the children plan their trip and raise funds towards the cost, learning about simple business plans and profit and loss accounts.
We believe that these experiences are an important part in developing the children’s independence and ability to work together as a team as well as preparing them gently for life in secondary school.
In addition to this, all classes enjoy at least one offsite outing each half term and a wide variety of workshops, specialist days and visiting speakers.
Although Meadowbrook is not a specialist dyslexia school we pride ourselves on offering highly specialised teaching and excellent support for dyslexic children. We believe that this makes us a highly viable alternative to specialist dyslexia schools in Berkshire for many pupils.
Our child centred approach lends itself naturally to ensuring that children with specific learning difficulties are quickly identified. Tailor made provision and highly qualified staff (many of whom hold additional qualifications in teaching dyslexic children) see self-esteem issues addressed as children experience what making progress and achievement can feel like in a supportive and non-judgemental environment. These are feelings that many dyslexic children do not experience unless provision is suited to their individual needs.
Meadowbrook provides specialised dyslexic support both in class and through one-to-one sessions with our SpLD teacher.
What is a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD)?
Specific Learning Difficulties (or SpLDs), affect the way information is learned and processed. They are neurological (rather than psychological), usually run in families and occur independently of intelligence. They can have significant impact on education and learning and on the acquisition of literacy skills. SpLD is an umbrella term used to cover a range of frequently co-occurring difficulties, including:
Dyslexia – a hidden disability thought to affect around 10% of the population, 4% severely. It is the most common of the SpLDs. Dyslexia is usually hereditary. A student with dyslexia may mix up letters within words and words within sentences while reading. They may also have difficulty with spelling words correctly while writing; letter reversals are common. However Dyslexia is not only about literacy, although weaknesses in literacy are often the most visible sign. Dyslexia affects the way information is processed, stored and retrieved, with problems of memory, speed of processing, time perception, organisation and sequencing. Some may also have difficulty navigating a route, left and right and compass directions.
Dyscalculia – a difficulty understanding maths concepts and symbols. It is characterised by an inability to understand simple number concepts and to master basic numeracy skills. There are likely to be difficulties dealing with numbers at very elementary levels; this includes learning number facts and procedures, telling the time, time keeping, understanding quantity, prices and money. Difficulties with numeracy and maths are also common with dyslexia.
What Meadowbrook Offers Your Child
- A thorough and rigorous process for identifying children with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD)
- Staff that fully support the provision for SpLD pupils.
- Rigorous systems for measuring the impact of provision for SpLD pupils to monitor the provision for pupils and to assess their achievements.
- There is an awareness by all members of staff of the necessity to adjust their teaching to meet the needs of SpLD pupils and this will be evident across the curriculum.
- Resources for learning that are appropriate to the level of need.
- IT provision which is relevant and of good quality, including up-to-date and regularly used programs for SpLD pupils.
- Access arrangements for all assessments as needed.
- Specific structured, cumulative and multi-sensory teaching materials to address literacy with SpLD pupils.
- Reports for parents on the progress of pupils, who exhibit SpLD.
School fees for our dyslexic provision can be found on our fees page. They are considerably lower than those charged by specialist dyslexia schools in Berkshire and further afield. This makes high quality, tailor made provision a realistic alternative for many.
Fees include support in class from a qualified LSA (learning support assistant), 1:1 sessions with the schools SPLD’s teacher, regular meetings between parents and staff to review children’s individual education plans and a tailor made curriculum that will soon see the introduction of touch typing added to the programme.
As dyslexic programmes vary child by child, please contact the school for an estimate of termly school fees.
Children normally start getting more structured homework once they start the Primary Department. Homework initially begins as more informal project base assignments that may take up to a few weeks to complete and parents can get involved too! In the case of project based work, all children are then required to present their project to the class and this enables the class teachers to assess the child’s input and understanding of what was set.
It is also important for their progress that they are presented with an increasing series of challenges, so the amount of time spent doing homework increases, as they get older. With the exception of occasional assignments the homework set is designed to reinforce or extend the children’s learning from the in-school curriculum.
At the time of writing this policy, Meadowbrook’s homework policy falls in line with Government recommendations for the average amounts of homework set however, class teachers are given flexibility to change homework schedules according to the needs of their class and the individuals within it.
As a guide, the following applies:
Years 1 and 2
- 1-2 hours per week Reading, spelling and times tables – daily
- Years 1 building up gradually literacy and numeracy work set Monday due Friday
- Year 2 as above re: reading, tables, spelling
- Maths set Monday, language set Tuesday both due in Thursday
- At Meadowbrook these children will also be set occasional assignments concerning the class topic.
PROJECT BASED WORK OVER A LONGER PERIOD OF TIME CAN ALSO BE SUBSTITUTED
Years 3 to 6
- Year 3, 1-2 hours per week Regular schedule as above but with assignments also in science or cultural sciences set Wednesday due Friday
- Years 4, 5 & 6, 40 minutes per subject, continuing to focus on literacy, numeracy and science but including work from a wider range of other subjects.
- Year 5 and 6 Secondary School entrance exam or 11+ practice papers.
Parents are asked to support their child with their homework and special guidelines are issued to Primary parents at the annual Welcome Evening.
Setting the ground rules and discipline for an increased homework routine begins in earnest at Year 3. All of the children will quickly fall into the routine of completing homework to the best of their ability. It is important that all assignments are handed back on time and we appreciate your support in this. We ask that you avoid the stress of chasing up homework by allowing the children themselves to take responsibility for it.
If your child does not understand what they should do, allow them to clarify with their class teacher the next day. Homework should be stopped before the end of allotted time and handed in unfinished if they labour painfully over it or become distressed. Homework should generally take between 30 / 40 minutes and 1 hour and a full explanation is always provided in school. Children are also asked to write reminders of what to do in their school diaries. Many will learn that more comprehensive reminders are needed as the term progresses. Your help is also needed in making sure that your child practices his/her weekly times tables, spelling words and reading daily. You will find that the routine settles down over the next few weeks and that your evenings and weekends become increasingly stress free.
Parents are asked to read with their children on a regular basis (particularly once books are sent home in reception and lower primary). A minimum of three times a week is recommended but daily is even better!
A wide range of after school clubs is offered on a termly basis. These are invoiced termly.
Clubs include: soccer, drama, chess, street dance, cookery, netball, art, study skills, needlecraft and knitting, board games, debating, calligraphy, bike club and road safety, rollerblading and ICT, homework and hot chocolate, netball, hockey, judo, cross country running, football and tennis.
Subjects are rotated each term.