Early Years Reception Class

We are each unique and beautiful and together we are a masterpiece

The emphasise in our Reception Class is learning through play, discovery and instruction in a carefully prepared environment.  This builds on the belief that children are naturally curious, self directed and capable of learning independently within carefully defined boundaries. There are several underlying principles to our approach that are also found in a typical Montessori setting. We share some of these principles and have created our own unique philosophy for early years provision that draws on a range of excellent early years' practice.

The Environment

Our early years environment is organised and structured to promote a sense of order. Everything has its place and has earned its right to be placed in the classroom, making it easier for children to locate materials and engage in activities.

Resources are housed on open and accessible shelves.The space is aesthetically pleasing with an emphasis on natural materials.

Our indoor and outdoor environment has been carefully designed to fire children's imaginations and ignite their innate curiosity to play, learn and explore. 

The child

Our approach is built on the relationship between the child, the adult and the environment and the belief that the child has an absorbent mind capable of effortlessly soaking up information from their environment. 

Everything  a young child encounters in their life is awe-inspiring and fills them with wonder.  When the whole world is still relatively brand-new, animals, plants, the environment, and real people provide more than enough inspiration for their young minds.

The adult

The role of adults in the Early Years clasroom is to show a deep respect for the child and to promote the qualities such as self-discipline, independence and a sense of responsibility from an early age. They skilfully prepare the environment, observe, facilitate and provide appropriate guidance and direct instruction.

We are also supported by a lead Montessori practioner based at Stisted. Their role is to ensure the Montessori approach is applied authentically both at Stisted and our partner school, Finchingfield St John the Baptist Primary Academy.

Igniting young minds

Central to our philosophy is the idea that by providing a prepared environment and giving children the freedom to explore and make choices within carefylly defined boundaries, they will develop independence, self-discipline, and a love for learning.

Imagination is the ability to conjure images or scenarios in one’s own mind, separate from present sensorial input and distinct from fantasy which draws ideas from a world that does not exist. 

Creative arts is designed to give children the opportunity to express, create and design in art, design and technology, music and drama. Equipment provided encourages children to explore a range of media including mark making, pattern making, printing, painting, collage, sculpture and 3d construction.

Practical Life

Activities in the practical life are designed to develop children’s fine motor skills, coordination, concentration, independence, responsibility, work habits and care for self and the environment. They include pouring, transferring, sorting, peeling, grating, sifting, sorting, serving, cleaning, polishing, sewing, lacing, beading, weaving, threading, chopping, cutting, repairing, dismantling, fixing using real life objects wherever possible.

All these skills are then applied in the Home Corner and role play areas. 

Rather than supplying a toy cleaning set, Montessori classrooms make available real cleaning tools that are appropriately sized, and we guide young children as they learn to use them effectively.


The sensorial area focuses on activities that help children develop and refine their senses so that they can better learn and understand the world around them. 

Activities are designed to help children notice similarities, differences and detail and include sorting, ordering, sequencing and classifying according to shape, colour, size, sound, texture and form.   

Children are encouraged to touch different textures and, by using their sense of touch, heighten their perception and understanding of the world around them. 

Sand and water play is sensory play and opens the opportunity for learning through curiosity, problem-solving, exploration and creativity. 

Learning materials

Montessori materials are specially designed and curated hands-on learning tools created to provide children with opportunities to discover key learning outcomes through repetition and practice. 

Familar materials include the pink tower, moveable alphabet, the spindle box and sandpaper letters.

When children move from the Reception Class into our Year 1 classroom, they will instantly recognise the familiar set up and approach to how resources and equipment are presented and introduced. 

Learning grounded in reality

Children explore real nuts and bolts, locks and keys, glass pouring jugs. You will find real tins of soup, pots and pans, forks and spoons in our role play areas rather than plastic replicas. 

Practical life activities are often the starting point in a Montessori environment, preparing children for more complex tasks and academic learning later on. They are also seen as essential for a child's holistic development, nurturing not just practical skills but also aspects of character, concentration, and a sense of responsibility.

Step by step learning

Our Reception Classroom contains specially designed Montessori educational materials that are arranged and presented in a systematic and accessible way. 

Each sensorial material serves a specific purpose, offering children opportunities to refine their senses, develop fine motor skills, and indirectly prepare for concepts in mathematics, language, and other areas of learning. Through repeated use and exploration, children build concentration, problem-solving skills, and a deeper understanding of the world around them.


A child has enormous capacity to absorb the new words in this period in their life so a flower found in the garden is named as daisy, rose or sunflower, and the tiny insect crawling in the grass as ant, earwig or ladybird.

Our Reception setting is filled with authentic, open-ended resources that children can explore, investigate and talk about. 

These materials provide opportunities for children to explore and talk about and thus build their vocabulary base,  language and communication skills.

Role play areas based on real life scenarios are also a key feature of our Reception clasroom as they stimulate children’s imagination, natural  urge to play and desire to communicate.

Early mathematics

Children are introduced to number through counting games and nursery rhymes. They work with quantities as well as well as pattern making, sequencing and sorting. 

Our sensorial materials refine the senses and develop cognitive skills such as thinking, judging, associating, and comparing. 

Children explore and learn to identify shapes; pair sound cylinders, sort natural materials, such as shells, pebbles and conkers, according to size, colour, texture or weight. 

The resources in our classrooms are all carefully chosen and designed to help children from practical concrete forms to the more abstract when children are ready.


While exploring the rich content of the Cultural area, our children are unconsciously building skills in observation, prediction, sequencing, categorising, questioning, organising, comparing, and contrasting. 

Objects of interest provide opportunities to explore, investigate and discover new concepts and ideas. Children learn the difference between living and non-living things, how land, air, and water make up the earth. 

You will see, real life objects such as torches or magnets for example are provided to encourage children to inquire and learn about scientific concepts such as light and shadows and magnetism. 

Physical development

We have an outdoor area is designed to give children the opportunity to move, explore and develop gross motor skills in a way that is not possible in an indoor environment. 

Outdoor learning

Big open outdoor spaces encourage children to open their posture using their arms like wings, swing or climb or simply roll around in safe outside spaces.

Forest School

When children move into the Reception and Year 1 Class they engage with the Forest School Programme and have a designated area of woodland within walking distance of the school.

The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, 

the period from birth to the age of six”.     

Maria Montessori

The Early Years Framework

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework in the UK and the Montessori approach share common goals in promoting holistic development in children. While they have slightly different structures and terminology, they both encompass key areas of learning and development. Let's explore how the seven areas of the EYFS framework align with the five areas of learning in the Montessori approach:

While the EYFS framework delineates seven specific areas of learning and development and the Montessori approach emphasizes five key areas, both approaches share a fundamental commitment to nurturing the whole child and providing a rich and stimulating environment for learning and growth. The seamless integration of these areas in both frameworks supports children's holistic development and prepares them for success in school and in life.