A Montessori school focuses on creativity and exploration. Children are put firmly at the centre and it is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play.
‘Pioneered in 1907 by Maria Montessori, Italy’s first female doctor, to educate poor Italian children. Her philosophy was that ‘The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s self. A child works in order to grow, and is working to create the adult, the person that is to be.’ Children in mixed age classrooms are free to choose between a range of activities. Mostly confined to pre-school and early years education in the UK, but there are some Montessori junior schools and a few senior schools too.’ – Good Schools Guide
A few key principles of the movement;
Order and structure - Although learning is child-led, children need order and structure to thrive. Everything in the classroom has its place, and children take responsibility for putting one activity away before moving on to another.
Sensory learning - Children learn through the senses, so Montessori puts emphasis on preparing teaching materials with great care.
Freedom - The single most important factor in child development, according to Maria Montessori. The Montessori classroom provides experiences, activities and environments that encourage children to follow their natural instincts.
Sensitive periods - The Montessori movement says that children move through ‘sensitive periods’ when they’re particularly receptive to learning a new skill, such as reading, writing or counting. Teachers watch out for these opportunities and take advantage of them, rather than trying to get a child reading or writing at a certain age.
Discipline is seen as something that should come from inside, rather than being imposed. Teachers focus on helping children develop social and emotional skills. Rewards and punishments are not used, and teachers will only step in when a child is behaving in a disruptive or upsetting way.
What are you views? Are you considering sending your child to a Montessori school?