The Montessori Theory is an educational method developed by Maria Montessori. The Montessori Theory can be applied across all age groups as it is a holistic method, which promotes joy for learning and adapts to individual needs. The Montessori Theory is based on six fundamental principles: independence, observation, letting the child lead, correcting productively and an absorbent mind.
Oliver's Nursery Approach to Montessori Method.
Oliver’s Montessori Nursery uses the ‘Montessori’ method of early education. This is a child-centered approach. Its primary aim is to create a safe, happy and caring environment in which each child can learn and develop freely – that is, at an individual pace and following the child’s own interests and inclinations.
At the core of the method is a carefully structured and prepared classroom in which the children can choose amongst individual activities or join in on group activities. The trained Montessori directress helps the children by showing them how activities are done, observing their work and individually introducing new challenges when a child is ready for them. At all times the directress is careful to encourage freedom of choice and expression.
We teach the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum, using the ‘Montessori’ method. The focus is on educating and learning life skills through play. Our focus is on building solid foundations for our children through the development of trust, obedience, love and care.
Fundamental Principles of Montessori Theory:
The greatest sign of success for a teacher... is to be able to say, ’The children are now working as if I did not exist.’
Montessori classrooms believe in fostering independence and practicality in children. This goal is reached by learning from doing approach. Children are encouraged to dress themselves; aid adults with habitual tasks, such as cleaning and organizing the classroom and choose their own activities. When children are empowered to make their own choices and try things for themselves there are multiple benefits. Children will find learning is not a chore but an enjoyable activity and they will build self-confidence and a healthy amount of self-belief and esteem.
Observation, that is the act of watching, is a key pillar of the Montessori teaching theory. In a classroom, or at home, there is much to be learned about the specific needs of each child by observing their habits. How do they interact with their environment? How do they play? What activities do they like, and which do they dislike? By observing without assuming, Maria Montessori was able to assess what each individual child needed.
For instance, if you see a child is attempting activities but getting quickly agitated because he hasn’t developed the skills for it, it means they are keen to develop their gross motor skills. Try ball and bubble play to help their gross motor skills develop. In this way, we can assess the best way to aid children and promote happiness and harmony.
3. Let the Child Lead
If you allow the child to lead you, that is letting them choose what they’re doing, you will quickly see in what areas the child is excelling and in what areas they may need to be challenged in. As Maria Montessori herself said, ‘We teachers can only help the work going on, as servants wait upon a master.’
As you can see the children interacting with their environment, support them in this. If they want to dance, play some music. If they are trying to climb, create a safe opportunity for them to do so. It is important to not direct this, let the child organically show you what they would choose to do.
If you are keen to challenge them to develop a particular skill, provide multiple choice activities and toys and let them decide. For instance, if you’re keen for them to develop their gross motor skills suggest trampolining, or riding the tricycle or hopscotch. They will pick the one they most enjoy. Then stand back and let them play, only intervene if play becomes out of hand and boundaries need to be set.
4. Correcting Productively
Children are bound to make mistakes. Perhaps they make a mess unintentionally. In situations such as this, there is no need to shout or raise your voice. Instead recognise the issue and say to them, ‘Oh you haven’t put away your toys… why don’t we put them away now?’ This is a way to get the child to do some practical work with you. This is a good way to get the child to recognise their mistake, without reprimanding them when there is simply no need.
Children are learning a lot very fast. They are bound to spill things, mispronounce words or knock things over. Provide them with a productive solution, such as repeating the correct pronunciation or cleaning up with them. If you make children feel as though they have done something wrong for making simple mistakes, they will be scared of trying anything.
The environment is a key part of the Montessori method. Setting up a room for children that has multiple activities available and allows for freedom, movement and choice facilitates all the other Montessori teaching principles. The learning environment, or classroom, is the place from which all other things will come.
Work in Montessori terms is what some people may call play. Maria Montessori calls this work because this is the child’s purpose at this point, and through their play, they learn. The teacher’s role is to construct an environment in which they can work in and learn from.
6. Absorbent Mind
Maria Montessori was fascinated with children’s ability to learn a language without actively being taught. This prompted her theory for their ‘absorbent mind’. Children under three years old do not require formal teaching to learn. Instead, they absorb information through experiencing their environment. Therefore we seek to create positive environments for the children.
It is important to be careful, as children pick up habits and language so easily be careful what you say around them and how you behave around them. This includes when you think they’re not watching or listening too!