The Montessori curriculum provides opportunities for students to gain an understanding of their personal development and health while providing opportunities for physical education and fitness.
Dr Montessori was a physician keenly interested in the health of the human body. She incorporated physical activity into her approach to education, devising gymnastic equipment, open-air games and outdoor adventure education for older children. The development of coordinated movement from birth is central to the Montessori approach. Dr Montessori also observed how children’s ability to self-regulate, a phenomenon she termed the will, develops gradually from infancy through the childhood years if children are supported to become physically and socially independent. The will is developed during early childhood, in the Montessori view, when children can choose purposeful activities they find interesting and which involve manipulations, and then are given the freedom to work with those activities for as long as they wish. Through such activity, in which the mind and the hand come under voluntary control, children learn how to make appropriate choices, how to accept the consequences of their actions and how to persevere, and how to work towards achievable goals and expectations.
Regular physical activity is an essential component of Montessori early childhood settings. Young children move constantly and need movement in order to learn. Montessori settings are prepared to allow children freedom of movement while, at the same time, activities are designed to enable children to develop control of their physical movement. Daily free play outdoors extends opportunities for regular physical activity.
Children also need activities that are challenging and require ‘maximum effort’, and these are provided in the setting, for example, as opportunities to move heavy objects in safe ways. These activities are extended to help children develop, strengthen and refine their movement further.
All children at Blue Gum Montessori School are involved in physical activities of a sporting nature from the day they join the school.
For the three year olds to five year olds the activities are available on the verandahs of their classrooms during the morning session – stepping stones, catching and throwing activities, mini trampoline, balancing activities, etc. This is referred to as a Perceptual Motor Program.
In the third term of each year, there is a sport carnival for the 3–6 year old children to demonstrate to their parents the physical skills they have learnt through the year and how they manage to work in teams.
From 6–12 years old the children have a twice weekly Physical Education lesson with the Physical Education Specialist introducing them to sports such as cricket, netball, athletics, Montessori soccer, football, T-ball and, above all, playing in a team and learning to win and lose with grace whilst also developing fundamental movement skills. A sport carnival for 6–12 year old children is also held in third term each year.
There are a variety of sporting programs held after school at Blue Gum.