Why choose a Montessori education?
The Montessori approach to teaching allows each child to develop naturally and freely within a 'prepared environment', an environment carefully geared towards the needs of the child.
The Montessori teaching method was pioneered by Italian doctor Maria Montessori.
She was born in 1870 and graduated as Italy’s first female medical practitioner, embarking on a career in mental health. This brought her into contact with children excluded from the educational system due to being diagnosed as mentally disabled. Over time she designed specific learning materials to help them fulfil their learning potential. Having realised what she had achieved with children with special needs, she turned her thoughts to the education of the ordinary child.
She believed that a child not only had an innate desire to learn and explore, but that they were particularly sensitive to certain types of learning at different times in their life.
A Montessori classroom like ours aims to give children the optimum conditions in which he/she can acquire knowledge within these periods. We ensure that every child has the freedom and opportunity to engage with the environment through careful selection and engagement with a wide range of Montessori materials which aims to give children: the chance to be independent and thoughtful, time for outdoor play and planned classroom activities to help them continually develop their knowledge.
By observing the individual child, we learn about their interests and stage of development and anticipate what they might need next to further their learning and skills. The role of the adult is to introduce an activity to a child and give them time to work on the materials independently.
“It is necessary for the teacher to guide the child without letting him feel her presence too much, so that she may be always ready to supply the desired help, but may never be the obstacle between the child and his experience".
Through repetition of the activity and self-correction, the child learns to master the intended skill and are then shown a way to extend their learning. Children are allowed to develop at their own pace and follow their own learning interests rather than a set curriculum. Most teaching by an adult is done one to one. Children also learn from each other, and in a Montessori classroom benefit from mixed-age groupings. This enables them to play alongside and learn from each other, which is a huge benefit in developing their social skills and understanding of the world.
MONTESSORI EQUIPMENT AND CLASSROOM
The specific Montessori equipment covers the learning areas of Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Maths, Cultural, and Creative.
When first entering the Montessori environment, a child will be introduced to Practical Life exercises. These include activities such as pouring, threading and buttoning, all designed to help build self-esteem, confidence and co-ordination. Mastery of these activities helps a child to become independent. Sensory activities follow this initial induction and are concerned with developing the senses which will later help the learning of language and maths.
When the child is ready we then use the Montessori materials to begin teaching Language and Maths, alongside Cultural and Creative practices. Sandpaper letters and numbers are used to help teach recognition. The child's learning is supported by a Sensory experience of the forms that will later help when learning to read and write them. Activities are presented to a child when they are developmentally ready for them so they are then able to work at the activity independently. Children will spend the majority of their time working on self-chosen activities that explore their interests and develop their skills through independent study rather than being continually led by an adult.
By being able to move around their environment freely and with independence, our children learn to respect their environment and others. 'Care for the environment' is part of the Practical life area of learning, with benefits to the child's gross and fine motor skills. This starts in the way a child is taught to set up their work area, take out an activity, and pack away once they have finished. Children help to prepare snack for the session, help to pack away and clean up the classroom and care for plants and pets at the session end.
Respect the Child
Encourage the child's natural desire to learn and explore on their own, at their own pace
Provide a secure and safe environment
Allow the child to take on responsibility, and trust them to make decisions