Who was Maria Montessori?
Maria Montessori pioneered an approach to education that focuses on children’s innate desire to learn and their enormous capacity to do so when provided with the right environment and appropriate materials under the guidance of a watchful caring practitioner. Born in 1870, she was the first woman to qualify as a medical doctor in Italy and it is her scientific background that underlies the design of the Montessori materials – many of which show quite remarkable insight into children’s learning patterns- and her belief in the importance of observation. Her work with un teachable children and the poor in Rome, and as her fame grew, with psychologists and educationalist has left a powerful legacy and has touched the lives of countless children- and the adults around them- all over the World.
What should the Montessori Classroom look like at Star Child Montessori?
The Montessori class is quiet but never silent, as children engage in a variety of activities.- ranging from academic to the purely practical – enjoying the opportunity to concentrate without interruption over extended periods of learning and play.
The Montessori room is a ‘prepared environment’ designed to support the children’s developmental needs. The materials are accessible – children rarely need to ask if they can get something. The materials have been designed with a step – by step understanding of complex abstract concepts through the use of concrete examples such as the physical letters to the structure of the decimal system.
The preparation and maintenance of this environment is one of the primary responsibilities of the Montessori teacher. Although children are encouraged to take a role in replenishing supplies, correcting their own mistakes, cleaning up after themselves and maintaining the ordered setting that is the foundation of the Montessori approach.
Children of different ages work alongside each other, older children helping younger ones, acting as role models but at the same time reinforcing and celebrating their own learning.
FACTS About MONTESSORI
• Through observations and innovations in early childhood development, Dr Maria Montessori introduced child sized furniture- Which is a commonplace in mainstream classrooms.
• Phonics- the approach to teaching reading and writing that focuses on the sounds of letters and syllables – which is widely accepted as one of the best methods for developing early literacy.
• Montessori materials are designed to help children understand where they have gone wrong and enable them to work out ways of correcting themselves without being told. This helps them gain confidence.
• Discipline- children enjoy the freedom to choose within the limits of the prepared environment. Poor or disruptive behaviour is discouraged through the reinforcement of positive behaviour and respect for the space, work, and concentration of the other individuals in the classroom.
The following table explains briefly how the Montessori learning programme meets the six areas of learning.
Areas of learning and development
|Example of Montessori practice/ Areas|
|Communication and Language||
Enjoying listening to and participanting in songs and stories, responds to questions from adult and peers.
Practical activities- pouring, transferring, sorting, pegging, give opportunities to move freely.
|Personal, social and emotional development||
Learning to use dressing up frames, take off coat/put it on, personal hygiene, understand the ground rules.
Areas of learning and development
|Mathematical||Sensorial materials, Grading, sorting, sandpaper, numerals, number rods.|
|Expressive arts & design||Use of scissors, glue, painting using large and small clothes, create with playdough.|
|Understanding the world||Food, music, dancing as well as clothes from the continents, artefact boxes on the diverse continents, life cycles, investigating and looking after their plants, specific topics.|
|Literacy||Introduce to phonetic sounds using sand paper letter. Using the sound boxes, I spy games.|
What is the Montessori Approach?
Montessori is an approach to early education that focuses on the immense capacity of children to absorb information when given the freedom and independence to learn at their own pace. It takes its name from Dr Maria Montessori, whose scientific background and belief in the potential and uniqueness of children empowered her to develop and educational approach that appreciated how children’s thought processes differ from those of adults.
What makes the Montessori approach different and what makes it work so well, is that it is based on a deep understanding of the way children learn – through choosing, trying and doing themselves. Montessori education is characterised by its use of specific equipment and materials. These guide the child from the simple to the complex, and from the concrete to the abstract. Many of the pieces of equipment are designed to include a control of error. This allows the child to recognise their own mistakes, and then correc them. The control of error ensures that the tast cannot be fully completed unless it is done so correctly. The usage of these specially developed materials in a prepared developed environment and the close observation and guidance of Montessori trained practionioners leads to a powerful confidence-building approach to learning.
For further information see “Reach- an introduction to the Montessori movement across the UK”