If you are interested in Montessori education, here are some background notes and links to other articles and reference materials:
The Montessori philosophy and practice derives from the work of Dr Maria Montessori, founder of a new system of education in Italy in the early 20th century. There are basic elements of it that should be in place in any Montessori establishment..
Montessori schools will vary in their application of the approach or method. This will be directly related to the interpretation given to the approach by the principal/owner of the school and the teaching staff. Different personalities set a slightly different stamp on any school, Montessori or otherwise, and the feel of each may vary.
The Montessori approach encourages maximum independent functioning at all levels for the child. To do this, we provide a vast range of learning experiences, with apparatus and exercises that the children manipulate and explore in a very hands-on way, that satisfy their inner need to learn by doing. Many of these things have a self-corrective element which allows the child to see easily when something is not right and to master a skill without adult intervention, thus gaining great inner satisfaction, boosting self-confidence and increasing competence. A beautifully cared-for, inviting environment, prepared by the teachers, comfortable, secure and allowing maximum ease of access to everything the children need, should be in evidence in Montessori schools. All the equipment should be well looked-after and complete. Dr Montessori likened small children to little scientists and their working and living environment to a laboratory in which they can experiment and explore with all they see around them, in order to gain better knowledge and understanding.
All the usual curricular areas of work are found in Montessori schools. They are subject to OFSTED and HMI inspections and regularly have impressive results.
Our wide range of teaching apparatus is beautifully designed and crafted and the work exercises are carefully thought out to be inviting and appeal to the child. It is not unusual to see a child of four years old happily placing puzzle pieces of the continents in the correct place on a control chart, or working with the hierarchies of number counting from units to thousands with the golden beads using numbers up to 9000. Our Pre-School children have a good rudimentary understanding of the decimal system before going on into primary education. The teacher will model by doing each exercise or task, with a child or small group watching. Children are left to work quietly by themselves following their observation of this modelling/demonstration, and can thereafter choose this work whenever they wish. The children help to maintain the order and beauty of the environment by helping to tidy and clean it, and are shown how to finish and put their work in its special place ready for the next user. This builds self-discipline and inculcates respect for the working environment and the needs of others. Strong emphasis is placed on the arts and creativity, physical development and practical life skills.
In many Montessori pre-schools, computers are in use. In the primary classes, ICT teaching will generally be in place. A great deal of emphasis is placed on the importance of courtesy and good manners. Self-discipline is probably the most valuable skill to master. The house rules and structure of the Montessori environment help the child to develop self-discipline as well as self-respect.
Visiting parents should find an extremely peaceful and industrious setting. Children should be quietly choosing activities and working with them. The teachers should be seen to interact with the children happily, with quiet voices, patience and great respect. As with any other school, parents should be careful to check staff qualifications and experience.
It is a common misconception that Montessori schools are places where the children do whatever they like. This suggests an unruly and disorganised form of education, which is definitely not the case in these settings. Our children do not in the sense implied do whatever they like, but they most certainly like what they do.
Please also see our most recent article Article on Montessori 2013
and use this link to view a timeline of Maria Montessori’s life and work:
For further information try the article by Dr Timothy Taylor here:
You could also read the booklet “Reach Further” produced by Montessori St Nicholas – Reach_Further
To research the Montessori philosophy further, see what the experts say on youtube. Listen to Trevor Eissler on Montessori Madness using this link:
and try Steve Hughes on:
See also this article by Andrew McAfee in the Harvard Business Review: