Our fundamental values and beliefs as a school
“Montessori is an attitude, not simply a teaching system, not just a technique. One must have a great love for and understanding of each individual child. Montessori is a spiritual attitude towards mankind, and mankind begins with childhood”. – Maria Montessori.


This document serves as a reference point for our thinking as a school. We will review these ideas annually and as necessary to monitor how our choices reflect these ideals. This is a living document and we invite you to participate in its development as we strive for excellence.
Our vision is of a world that can finally live in peace, a global community based on interdependence, respect for all life and all people, reached through the only path that can truly lead there: our children.




VMS is passionately committed to enriching the lives of children and their parents; to provide them with a safe, courteous, respectful environment in which to grow intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally; to nurture their spirit by acknowledging their uniqueness and purpose. Our goal is to make a significant and lasting impact in the lives of everyone who comes into contact with VMS. We aim to achieve this by: - Cultivating within our students a passion for excellence in everything they do, both in and outside of our school. - Nurturing the curiosity, creativity, and imagination born within us all. - Awakening the human spirit of every child. - The development of a strongly held set of universal values which include self-respect, respect for others, honesty, integrity, responsibility, empathy, compassion, kindness, peacefulness, a sense of concern for others, warmth and a love of community. - Celebrating diversity in our community and the global community and acknowledging the unique contribution of all individuals who enrich and inspire our personal growth. - A life-long commitment to give something back through service to others who are in need.
We affirm that education begins at birth and continues throughout life. While our emphasis is on our children, we are a centre of support for all of us to continue learning and developing toward becoming whole and healthy people. Our goals for students are for them to be open-minded and compassionate, to gain a sense of themselves and others, and to understand and appreciate the diversity of the human spirit. Village Montessori School wants students to be well trained in the basic academic disciplines, to fulfil their creative potential, and to gain satisfaction in their physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development. We want students to love learning and to value knowledge, creativity, and humour. It is our hope that students will be responsible, critical and caring members of society, and recognise that they have the power and resources to effect change as well as the self-esteem and confidence to pursue their goals.
We believe that every member of our community has a fundamental right to be treated with respect, regardless of age.
We respect the fundamental human needs, rights, and dignity of each person, no matter how young, as a full and independent person who is engaged in the ongoing process of development. During this process, while honouring the right to self-determination, we model and encourage certain values: kindness, honesty, warmth and openness, respect for each person’s uniqueness, tolerance, cooperation, good sportsmanship, and nonviolence.
In keeping with the true meaning of the word discipline, defined as “to teach”, we prefer to model and encourage appropriate, kind, and considerate ways to behave in various situations.
We use positive reinforcement whenever possible to encourage progress and to acknowledge contributions, rather than focussing on the rules and the consequences for breaking them.
We encourage and model ways to negotiate in conflict situations so that, whenever possible, everyone can win, and at the very least, everyone feels heard and that their feelings and needs are respected.
As necessary we cue and remind people of appropriate behaviours before they forget.
When behaviour is inappropriate and a gentle reminder isn’t enough, we intervene and, respectfully yet firmly, stop the behaviour.
Our ultimate goal is to encourage self-discipline and self-motivation as the reasons for behaviour rather than fear or motivation from external factors.
We recognize that most misbehaviour comes from discouragement. We, therefore, do not label a child as ‘bad’. Instead, we try to recognize the mistaken reasons for the misbehaviour. In most instances, an individual misbehaviour is the result of an attempt in searching for a place to fit in within the family or community, even if it is an undesirable place. We then look to find appropriate ways to encourage the individual to use self-discipline, and to recognize the “triggers” of misbehaviour before that behaviour is repeated.
We believe that intelligence is not rare.
We approach learning seeking to understand each person’s uniqueness and guide them individually and at their own pace, through the range of learning skills so they fully realize their potential. We do not subscribe to the theory of measuring performance merely through testing, and respectfully submit that the vast majority of people have the intelligence and natural ability required to learn everything they need to lead full, happy and productive lives.
We celebrate the natural diversity of human beings, be it in learning style, interests, or the definition of what makes a happy and successful life.
We believe that wisdom can be cultivated.
We believe that true wisdom is the ability to listen to your heart and know how best to put your intelligence to work for you. In order to achieve this goal, self-esteem, human dignity, and emotional well-being, as well as the ability to communicate and cooperate effectively with others, must be valued at least as highly as academic and material success.
Our ultimate goal is to produce men and women who have not only learned how to learn, but have also developed an innate love of learning, a wide range of interests, and an openness to new ideas and possibilities.
We believe that self-esteem is the crucial ingredient for the full expression of a person’s potential.
We believe in nurturing self-esteem. Self-esteem forms the basis of all interaction, including discipline, respecting personal learning styles and stages of development.
Learning from experience: We consciously encourage our students to not be afraid of taking risks. Students are encouraged to use their countless positive and negative experiences that they will inevitably have as non-threatening feedback on their progress and personal growth.
We set our expectations high. We do not ask individuals to do more than they are capable of, but consistently stress at all grade levels the importance of careful work and the importance and necessity of pride in their numerous accomplishments. The reward is not in a quantity of work achieved, but is found in the satisfaction of work done well for its own sake. We carefully build a supportive environment for the unhurried mind to move steadily toward the pursuit of excellence.
We acknowledge the place of competition. We encourage the development of respect for natural abilities. While we allow people to experience defeat by separating the deed from the doer in all things, we seek to minimize any negative effect on self-esteem that defeat or lack of natural ability in an area might have. We do not believe that it is either necessary or appropriate to inspire unrestrained academic pressure and/or scholastic competition among students. We cultivate the ability to accept success with grace, to cope with defeat or loss with dignity, and to build on the individual’s experiences. We ensure the right to choose whether or not to participate in competitive activities, and we stress the principles of good sportsmanship.
We believe that the development of a whole, healthy being requires the nurturing of our many dimensions. These dimensions include the spiritual, intellectual, physical, and emotional aspects of the individual.
We recognize the necessity of nurturing one’s spiritual development. While we feel it is each person’s task to develop his or her own understanding of the nature of the universe and the individual’s place in it, we proceed on the premise that our world is a beautiful, positive, loving place, and is a setting that provides the potential for each person to lead a full, free, joyful, and healthy life.
We recognize the necessity of nurturing one’s intellectual development. The intellect is an important tool in the shaping of our world. Through the development of our thinking abilities, we refine our emotional responses, we clarify our picture of the universe, and we develop the discipline to maintain vibrant health.
We recognize the necessity of nurturing ones physical development. We recognize that the intellectual and emotional potential and capabilities of our brains are, like any other organ, dependent on a clean, healthy lifestyle. We adopt the lifestyle habits most appropriate and beneficial for our bodies and minds. Among these are fresh air, pure water, exercise, sunlight and proper diet.
We recognize the necessity of nurturing ones emotional development. Our emotions are complex and powerful, and it is important that we learn to feel them fully and without fear, to identify them correctly (in ourselves and others), to respect them, and to accept them. It is equally important, however, that we learn to harness the power of our emotions and not let them control our lives unchecked.
Village Montessori School follows the stages of human development
Developmental stages: Our staff are actively involved in a continual study of human development. This study includes keeping abreast of current theories on development, regular student observation, and a constant evaluation of the curriculum to ensure that it is appropriate for the developmental stages of our students.
Active learning: We promote active rather than passive learning by encouraging students to pursue studies in all areas of their spontaneous personal interests. Students will use hands-on ‘experiential’ learning whenever possible, rather than a lecture and drill process whether through concrete manipulative learning materials, independent library research and field investigation.
Passage to abstraction: To facilitate this process, we consistently work from a very concrete level of experience to the abstract. To aid students in learning, we begin by giving them the ‘big picture’ and work from this toward an increasing level of detail. This concept has created a spiralling curriculum in which skills and concepts are presented and reintroduced at increasing levels of complexity and abstraction over the years.
External support: As necessary, we provide students with external support in a committed effort to ensure that their developmental needs are met. We do this in a manner that reflects our expectations and philosophy e.g. referral to professionals and our extra-mural service provider.
Computers: We use the computer as a research tool from SP level. Computer literacy is encouraged outside of school hours either through formal programmes or experimentation at home. Children younger than 9 are still sensitive to learning through movement and interaction with their environment and classroom time is, therefore, devoted to these needs.
VMS provides a broad preparation for life, balancing academic excellence with development of personal and practical life skills
Success: We design our education program to maximize each person’s academic and personal success. We strive to encourage people to build on their strengths and personal learning styles and to learn from their mistakes. We encourage skills that support independent and successful learning, critical thinking, cooperative project management, reflective reading, problem solving, library research, use of technology, techniques for effective study, test-taking strategies, and techniques for focussing attention. We consider it equally important that our community members be successful human beings who can establish healthy relationships and achieve happiness in their personal lives. We teach our students to pay attention to and respect feelings, both their own and those of others. We help them to learn to solve conflicts effectively and fairly, and to express their feelings in a healthy manner. Group dynamics and communication skills are also stressed.
Practical life: To facilitate and encourage a sense of independence, we deliberately teach a wide range of practical life skills appropriate to each child’s level of development. We regard this as a vital element affecting the design of our entire curriculum. These practical life skills include:
Eye-hand coordination and the use of simple tools.
Grace and courtesy: appropriate ways to handle situations kindly.
Practical economics: the value and use of money, including how to earn and manage spending money.
Technology: the safe use of technology.
Caring for the classroom environment and self: how to set tables, wash dishes, cook, sew, iron, launder clothing, clean floors, tables and shelves.
Health and safety: the development of sound habits of safety, nutrition and hygiene, along with the acquisition of first-aid skills and when developmentally appropriate, CPR.
Empowerment: We make a concerted effort to empower people, to help them learn how to make responsible choices, to recognize that they are assuming increasing control over their lives as they mature, and to discover how to make a difference in the world around them by positive efforts and contributions to others.
We recognize that the first six years of life are critical to the development of one’s life. We believe that the experiences children have at home and at school in their first six years of life are the most important because their self-concept and their concepts of the world and their place in it are set. What they will attempt and whether or not they will succeed are profoundly influenced by these beliefs. Although we as Montessori parents, teachers, and students are living proof that changes can happen after this critical period, the changes are accomplished with a “chisel and hammer on stone rather than with gentle fingers on wet clay”.
VMS is designed for flexibility in its methodology and use of resources

Meeting individual needs: We use the Montessori approach, along with additional approaches and materials from the larger non-Montessori educational community, to provide opportunities for enrichment beyond the basic curriculum. We strive for individualized pacing and adaptation of the classroom programme (when possible) to meet varied styles of learning.
Curriculum framework: In designing this individualized program, we follow an established curricular framework that includes the school’s expectations for basic academic achievement at each grade level.
Diverse learning styles: We regard a mix of backgrounds and abilities as a positive and important element in our community, and often find that because of our flexibility and individualized approach, children who may have been considered ‘special needs’ or ‘learning disabled’ in other environments can often experience a greater level of success within our community.
We strive for a balance between freedom, order, and responsibility.
We interpret the general principle of Montessori education, “follow the child” to refer to the importance of allowing students to pursue areas of spontaneous interest whenever possible. However, if a child needs more direction at certain times or is not internally motivated in a given area, we then feel it is our responsibility to acknowledge the personal preference yet continue to require that the necessary work be completed.
We strongly encourage participation in day-to-day classroom management, care of the environment, and decision making in order to facilitate the development of independence and a sense of engagement with the school community. We seek to help each other see the value of commitment both to our school community and to society and the good of the individual and that of the community are interdependent.
We seek to show and teach our students that the freedom and education that they receive here comes with the responsibility to help others.
Strengthening our connection with nature and the environment is an integral part of VMS

We believe that being involved physically with nature and directly with the environment as basic to being a whole and healthy human being.
We consciously work to foster in each person a strong sense of belonging to the web of life. We accomplish this goal through:
Programmes in outdoor education, and field biology at every age level in the school, using the natural setting and a wide variety of natural resources around us as a classroom out of doors.
Programmes in gardening and small animal care.
Programmes in camping and field ecological studies in natural wilderness settings.
We stress recycling and environmentally friendly packaging for lunches.
VMS embraces the building of a diverse community grounded in knowledge that leads to understanding and acceptance of all people.


We celebrate diversity in our community and acknowledge the unique contributions of all individuals, who enrich and inspire our personal growth. We seek to develop a global perspective through the study of second languages, cultural geography, and correspondence with our sister Montessori schools around the world. We encourage families to share cultural traditions, travel experiences and international festivals. We utilise our international families as a tremendous teaching resource.
All forms of human communication are explored
We recognise that we live in a time when the various languages of art, (visual, written, spoken and musical) particularly through mass media, have a profound impact on our lives. We develop in each person the ability to understand and filter this influence. We also believe that by developing our ability to use these languages we strengthen our self-esteem and enhance our ability to express more effectively our thoughts and feelings.
We consciously work to encourage creative thinking in writing, problem solving and research.
We emphasise creative expression through art, drama and musical experiences through plays, musical performance, drawing and painting.
As is appropriate for each age group, we encourage students to become aware of the major social, political, economic, environmental and ethical issues of our day.
We are constantly modelling and encouraging communication between all members of our community. We would like everyone to become skilled in active listening, negotiation, fair fighting (verbally), empathy for another person’s position, and the ability to stand up for oneself and say no without guilt if someone is encroaching on their rights.
VMS is an extended family community whose participants are supported at all levels by all others in the community

We believe in the principle that those matters which affect individual community members directly impact all others in our community. We consider, where possible, input from all of our community members in our decision making processes in order to take into account the needs of our total community.
Commitment to the school: We expect all students, parents, teachers and support staff to be committed, contributing members of the school community and to show support for the rules, regulations and principles established by us.

245 Glover Avenue
Lyttelton AH
South Africa





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