Classroom, FAQ and Books

FirstBridge Montessori Classroom

Stepping into First Bridge Montessori classroom for the first time, you are likely to be struck by a few characteristics instantly: Clean, orderly, calm with a happy hum, a mood of busy concentration.

It is quiet, but not silent. Rarely does a teacher sits in front to lead instruction or organize activities. Yet, it is a room full of activities.

The day is for the children to seize. The classroom belongs to them – child sized furniture, materials are freely available – paint & brushes, scissors & paper, computer and whiteboard, and even snacks.

A boy could be cutting crafts while another is concentrating on writing his sentence. Sitting opposite him might be an older girl who was marking math sums of her pal, a 4 yr-old. In a corner tucked amongst the shelves, 2 boys could be building their first safari park for their animals – roaring and trumpeting away, while a girl is reading her favourite storybook.

The youngest in the class strolls and observes, in a calm manner – usually in the hand of a senior – reassuring her to pick her activity, to join in, to sit and listen to a story…She sees Respect, Discipline and Concentration. Hence, she learns – without being taught directly.

For many visiting parents, this experience can be quite breathtaking – totally inspired by the energy and devotion of the children and teachers.

Mixed Age Learning

At First Bridge, the 2 1⁄2 to 6 years old young students are exposed to a richness of experiences. Over time, it has been observed that Montessori students develop traits that put them ahead of their peers. They possess:

  • Self-discipline
  • Self-knowledge
  • Independence
  • Confidence
  • Enthusiasm and self-motivation for learning
  • Organized approach to problem solving
  • Academic Skills

In our prepared classroom environment, each child’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual needs are met in an atmosphere where early learning is a pleasant and positive experience, where each child can develop at his/her own speed in a non-competitive environment.

Monthly Theme

First Bridge nourishes the creativity of the young children in the classroom. They learn different colours, how to cut with scissors, draw with crayons, paint with brushes, work with clay and dough, paste and make pictures, fold origami. These creativities follow very closely with the monthly theme.

First Bridge adopts a Thematic approach as part of the curriculum. A monthly theme is designed to develop and enhance the young students’ general knowledge and awareness to our environment.

For example, January - Nursery Rhymes, February - Birds, March - Mother Earth, April – Beethoven

During Circle Time, Directress will conduct a Presentation to introduce the theme, for example Birds. This includes introducing the characteristics of birds: physical attributes like wings, feathers and beaks; some can fly but some cannot; nocturnal birds like owls. The discussion then goes into further detail like identifying different kinds/lengths of beaks, uses of beaks, different birds have different beaks to enable them to eat theirs kinds of food. Every feature under a theme will be explored and discussed.

Hands on Art and Craft further enhance the young students’ understanding of the theme projects.

Children are all encouraged to bring their own books from home to share in the class. They will be encourages to read from the wide collection of books and materials, and share information with each other.

At First Bridge, the 2 1⁄2 to 6 years old young students are exposed to a richness of experiences. Over time, it has been observed that Montessori students develop traits that put them ahead of their peers. They possess:

  • Self-discipline
  • Self-knowledge
  • Independence
  • Confidence
  • Enthusiasm and self-motivation for learning
  • Organized approach to problem solving
  • Academic Skills

In our prepared classroom environment, each child’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual needs are met in an atmosphere where early learning is a pleasant and positive experience, where each child can develop at his/her own speed in a non-competitive environment.

Montessori Work

Language

The English language development is encouraged through the freedom of conversation and Phonics. Precise names are used for all classroom objects. Many matching pictures and games are provided. As the child becomes ready for activities more directly related to written language, the child explores sounds by using the sandpaper letters. He is constantly reinforcing that matching initial and final sounds to pictures and objects have learned. We then teach the child to blend consonants and vowels together in order to read 3-letter short vowel words. The movable alphabet is used to put together symbols and sounds in order to make language visible. Simultaneously, the child is presented with the insets, which help to develop the skills needed to write, and the muscular control needed to use a pencil with controlled movements.

Phonetic teaching requires the child to blend sounds. The child crafts his thoughts and expression through writing in his journals. All sketches are naturally accompanied by writing.

Math

These materials are designed to allow children to make their own abstraction, and to reveal the facts and concepts of math, its esthetics and logic. The number rods, sandpaper numerals, spindle boxes, cards and counters, memory game teach numbers and association of quantity and symbols. The golden bead material introduces the entire four operations of math( Add/subtract with and without changing, division and multiplication). The teen boards and ten boards teach addition. By using these concrete math materials, the child develops an understanding of math so that he/she can make abstractions.

Baking and cooking classes are part of the fun and interesting way to learn too. These classes fall on the last week of each month.

Computer Literacy

Part of the curriculum will be introduced to the children through usage of laptops. This will expose the children to the global acceptance of computers as a powerful communication and information tool. Some of the supporting interactive software includes Scholastic, DK, School Zone, Montessori Grammar and Chinese Language.

Mandarin (Full Day student)

The learning of Chinese language is scheduled for 1 hour a day. Love for the language will be developed through conversation, reading, and poem recitals. Appreciation of writing skills is cultivated through history of Chinese characters in a fun way. Trainers from professional acting school will deliver the core curriculum of Speech and Drama. Certain days of the week require the children to communicate only in Mandarin during Montessori work time. This provides a strong foundation for children to translate their actions and thoughts using Mandarin.

FAQ

Montessori education views teaching and learning as inseparable.

The act of playing and work in school is learning and growth.

In First Bridge, when your child learns about “Myself”, he is also learning about others too. In its truest fundamental philosophy – a mixed age grouping – your child learns and teaches by applying his knowledge onto another peer.

When a senior girl is competent in reading her favourite Eric Carle’s Hungry Caterpillar, she naturally takes on the role of a ‘teacher” – and begin reading to her fellow junior friends. She learns the skills to manage a mini class. She learns to project her voice louder so her lines could be heard.

She feels good to lead, to mentor and to inspire. Her juniors – listen to her with admiration, in awe that she is their teacher and day after day, task after task.

These juniors adopt a very internalised sense of motivation and discipline – for they simply cannot wait for their turn to be the “teacher”.

You can feel good about entrusting us with your toddler. First Bridge – being a mixed age school with many independent and self-motivated seniors – will give your child abundant care and attention.

With Trust and Respect as our philosophy in teaching, we encourage your child to learn to trust his new outside world. By encouraging him to “work” on practical life activities, your child will learn to trust himself – trust that he can try and succeed.

Standing in a room with many fun and interesting activities, there’s no reason to cry after a while. However, sometimes, the crying do persist.

Then, it is essential to analyse if the persistent crying is to seek for more attention. It is necessary for our experienced teachers to decide – to continue to reassure and provide more, or to ‘nip it in the bud”.

Most of the time, your separation anxieties have rubbed off onto your child – all without your knowledge. Our advice is : Be brave, be cheerful, give a big hug, bid your farewell with a “ Have a lovely day my Darling and I’ll pick you up later!”, and Go with a smile.

Each child is unique. This uniqueness must be respected.

Your son “takes a longer time to learn” – does that make him a slower child?

In First Bridge, we take this challenge seriously and dutifully. We will observe his learning behavior.

Perhaps his learning module needs to be dissected into smaller steps – then, design a suitable worksheet for him.

Perhaps he needs to work on a more concrete apparatus to learn an abstract concept – then, introduce the box of puzzle or Montessori material that allows him to move and learn.

Perhaps he has shorter attention span – then, prepare work, enough for him to complete with success within a certain timeframe, enough to make him commit his attention without being labelled.

The long in the short, our teachers adopt different approaches in teaching – to suit the uniquenesss of each child. In our mixed age grouping, your child will always have opportunities to lead and to mentor – yes, to a younger group of juniors – and feel successful and confident!

Learning is not about winning or competition. There is no finishing line.

Hence, learning does not stop.

In a mixed age group, when your child is more advanced for his age, there’s always a few other seniors whom he can look up to, to motivate him, to inspire him with their academic and global knowledge .His best friend may not be from his age and gender group.

There’s always opportunities to stretch his potential – be a ‘teaching assistant”, conduct Tuesday’s Circle Time, be a story teller and role play , be the umpire and score keeper for Mini Sports Day… there’s simply no room for boredom!

Our answer is : How not to?

At First Bridge Montessori , we believe it is our responsibility to help parents and children make the smoothest transition to their next school.

Our program and curriculum groom children to learn within a quiet confidence and self-motivation to understand things around them. These are the building blocks of future learning , hardwiring your child’s capacity to engage with new environment ( Primary school), new information and new challenges.

Your child – a First Bridge graduate by then, would have been groomed to be a respectful multi-tasker.

In his new ‘big” school, he’ll easily be spotted as a dependable student to assist the teacher – be a monitor, an English leader, to support an anxious shy classmate, to assist Form Teacher in taking attendance, to partner a foreign classmate – a leader in his own right.

Academically, he is already competent. With that empowerment, he will continue to work hard, respect his opportunities and welcome, all possibilities that come his way.

We view language as an agent of learning.

Our classroom explodes in freedom of movement and speech – children of preschool age learn best with movement and discussion.

Circle Time and Theme Learning are accompanied with language – words, vocabulary, expression, description , exchange of ideas– all essential tools to the written language. First Bridge uses Phonics – an excellent approach to teaching reading and writing that focuses on the sounds of letters and syllables.

Our founder Ms Jessica Chong is an author of her series of phonics reading books and has published another series of workbooks with literacy activities to support and reinforce English literacy.

FirstBridge Series I - Fun Kids

Please view this book on a tablet or desktop. Or download here.

FirstBridge Series II - The Rat Has A Picnic

Please view this book on a tablet or desktop. Or download here.