"We observe that a child occupied with matters that awaken his interest seems to blossom, to expand, evincing undreamed of character traits; his abilities give him great satisfaction, and he smiles with a sweet and joyous smile." - Maria Montessori
The Journey to Independence Starts Here
At Cornerstone for early learners we follow the child's natural development in order to advance learning.
Children thrive when they are placed in an environment where they feel secure, are able to move freely and engage in a wide choice of activities specifically suited to their age.
Indirect intervention from the teacher or guide allow children to work at their own pace and develop the much sought after quality of concentration.
It is important to young children’s development that they are able to develop their own sense of self. At Cornerstone this is achieved through practical life activities such as pouring, spooning, cutting, caring for themselves and caring for things around them. There are also many opportunities for sensorial activities. Our learning centre is equipped with a wide range of hands-on materials for children to develop all their senses. Children are given presentations which eventually enable them to become independent and self-directed learners.
A rich language environment is provided for the children from their first day, with plenty of opportunities for exploring language orally. Research has shown that children of age 4 are specifically sensitised to learning how to write and read in their home language. They also have “mathematical minds”.
Helen Morgan is the owner and principal at Cornerstone Early Learning Centre in the Heldervue area of Somerset West. She holds a Bachelor of Primary Education from the University of Cape Town (1986), a diploma in Montessori Education (for the 6-12 age group), from the Maria Montessori Institute in London (2009), and is currently completing a Masters in Montessori Education (for the 3-6 age group), at the Montessori Institute of San Diego and Loyola University in Maryland, USA. These institutes are both accredited by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). In addition, Helen has 30 years of experience in education and has raised 3 children of her own, who are now 27, 24 and 19 years of age.
Cornerstone opened its doors in October 2016, after Helen and her husband, Geoff Morgan, had the vision to establish a learning centre for young children between the ages of 2 ½ to 6 years of age, this being the most important time in a child’s life for the absorption of knowledge and the development of individual potential. The centre was completed in 2016 as an eco-friendly structure that is mostly powered by solar energy and has an off the grid sewerage system. Along with eco-friendly technology, Geoff and Helen believe that education is the key to a sustainable future in South Africa. They are both passionate about partnering with other organisations to further develop quality preschool education and training in the Somerset West area, and beyond. This vision includes empowering individuals from disadvantaged communities. See our other dream at www.cornerstoneoutreach.com
At present Helen is the lead teacher at Cornerstone Early Learning Centre, which caters for children between the ages of 2 ½ and 6 years of age. Everything in the learning environment is child-sized (including a mini kitchen) so that children are able to be completely independent. This builds self-confidence, the essential ingredient for all future learning. Learning at Cornerstone is also sensory-based, with material for all the senses – sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. Children move freely, choosing skills that they wish to master.
Lorna Rautenbach joined Cornerstone in January 2017, as the teaching assistant and also supervisor for the extended day programme, which runs from 12:30 – 17:30. She has many years of experience in childcare and loves working with children.
The idea with the new learning centre is to enrol children at a young age (2 – 3 years). Ideally these children would then stay at Cornerstone Centre for a full 3 year cycle, from 3 – 6 years of age, gaining full benefit of all the materials available and having a solid foundation laid for all future learning.