The Montessori method of education was devised by Dr Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. She opened her first school, the Casa dei Bambini, in Rome in 1907. Montessori education is a specific child-centred method of education that involves child-led activities in a classroom with children of varying ages (also known as vertical grouping) and teachers who encourage independence thus inspiring confidence among their pupils in their own abilities. Montessori believed that a child learns better when they choose what to learn and this philosophy lives on in all Montessori classrooms today.

Each child works and develops at their own pace and discovers abstract ideas, learning through their hands and the use of concrete objects. They are exposed to lessons, activities and materials to build upon their individual skill sets and allowing them to develop as individuals. Equipment and the teaching methods are designed to develop the child’s concentration and co-ordination as well as academics.

What does a Montessori classroom look like?

A Montessori classroom is made up of different areas of learning.  Each contains equipment pertinent to that particular area and is available for the children to choose from throughout the day. The equipment is arranged in sequential order of complexity and is traditionally very beautiful and made of wood. It is placed at child height so that it is easily accessible to the children and they take responsibility for putting each piece of equipment away before starting another activity. Classrooms are filled with natural light and are spacious providing a safe and stable learning environment which is both comfortable for and appealing to children.

The teacher works with individuals or small groups at child level instead of standing in front of the class. Taking a holistic approach, they focus on the child’s social, empathetic, intellectual and physical development with an emphasis on hands-on, individualised learning.

The Montessori Theory

The key aspects of Montessori theory are as follows:

  • Order and structure: these are essential to a child’s confidence and ability to learn. In a Montessori classroom the children are responsible for putting away one activity before moving on to another.
  • Sensory learning: children learn through their senses and are taught with materials prepared with great care.
  • Freedoms: Freedom to choose, move and repeat encourage a child to follow their natural instincts.
  • Sensitive periods: A child moves through various ‘sensitive periods’ during which they are particularly receptive to learning a new skill. The Montessori teacher watches for opportunities and takes advantage of them rather than trying to get a child to read or write at a certain age.
  • Self discipline: Discipline comes from within once a child has developed the necessary social and emotional skills. There should be no rewards or punishments, the teacher should only step in if a child is being disruptive or upsetting others.

How will my child benefit?

Enhanced social interaction fosters peer on peer relationships and the children learn from each other building essential life skills including a desire and ability to connect, inclusion and acceptance.

Progression at their own pace with less pressure to ‘keep up’ allows your child to develop as an individual, building a sense of confidence and creative freedom, excellent entrepreneurial skills!

Discipline from within and a life-long love of learning born from the freedom to choose, being allowed to follow their natural instincts and to self-regulate.

Quotes from Maria Montessori

“What the hand does the mind remembers.”

“These words reveal the child’s inner needs; ‘Help me to do it alone’.”

“Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavour always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.”  

“The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn”

“Our aim is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core.”

“The child who concentrates is immensely happy”

“What is generally known as discipline in traditional schools is not activity but immobility and silence. It is not discipline, but something that festers inside a child, arousing his rebelious feelings.”