What is Montessori?
Maria Montessori was an Italian doctor who pioneered a new method of education. Today, schools all over the world use her methods.
The Montessori method inspires both our approach to the children, and the resources and activities that are available to them. It means that they are respected, nurtured and encouraged in positive ways.
Key principles of Montessori
Things are 'child sized'
From the spoons we eat with to the tables the children work at, things are scaled down to suit the individual child. They are free to move chairs and tables, etc around (and are physically strong enough to lift the light-weight furniture) to best serve their activity.
Freedom to choose what they work on and where they want to do it
In many mainstream settings and in schools the 'activity' is decided and facilitated by the adults in charge. In a Montessori setting, a range of activities are set-up by the adult and the children are then able to select and run the activities independently. This gives the children a great sense of purpose about their work and is proven to help them to spend longer amounts of time on single activities.
Sharing in the care of the environment
Children are given responsibilities which encourage them to be accountable and share in the care of the setting. For example, rather than the children being given something to keep them busy while an adult clears up, they are guided and supported in taking part in such tasks. Children take great pleasure in this and can feel very proud of their achievements in everyday tasks.
Freedom within boundaries
Ground rules are in place. A main idea of Montessori teaching, the clearer and more consistent the boundaries, the more children are able to feel safe, free and independent within them. Ground rules are discussed and agreed with parents and children. These include things like 'allow others to work without interruption', 'share', and 'tidy up'.
The resources and the environment change according to the children's needs
The room we work in is designed to 'serve the child', and we review what each child needs, and is interested in, and tailor the available activities and displays to suit them. For example, a numeracy activity which involved counting marbles may be adapted to mean children count small toy dinosaurs instead. This could also include things from a child's home being incorporated into the setting to help them to settle more easily and encourage more interest.
Help me to help myself
This is a phrase that a small child said to Montessori at her school. It means that we will give the children the tools to teach themselves and make their own achievements, rather than doing things for them to hurry them towards goals. This can range from giving them the encouragement, time and space to feed themselves a meal rather than an adult feeding them, to mini lessons on things like nose-blowing so that they can care for themselves physically.
Specialist materials are crafted with learning in mind
The Montessori materials are carefully thought out and crafted to help children master key skills and understand new concepts independently and in a 'hands-on', concrete way. There are hundreds of these materials which children work through sequentially in each curriculum area. For example, one piece of material is the 'knobbed cylinders'. These are four wooden prisms, each with ten removable cylinders for children to take out and replace, like a puzzle. They teach children about increasing and decreasing size, trial and error, shape, sequencing, and help them to refine the 'pincer grip' needed for writing. They are able to teach themselves this huge range of skills with barely any adult interruption.
Nurturing your child's mind
You can be sure you are placing your child in a warm, nurturing environment that teaches them vital life skills.
Learn about what your child is taught by reading our curriculum.