The Montessori method was created by Maria Montessori. Born in 1870, Italy’s first female physician, she worked mainly with underprivileged and handicapped children. Through her observations she realised that children preferred to do meaningful tasks rather than just play, and with this in mind she began to create a series of apparatus to aid their learning. Each apparatus with a purpose and a control, so that the child would realise if they had made a mistake, allowing them to correct themselves. This allowed the children to work on their own at their own pace, until they had mastered their task.
The environment she realised was also important. A place where children could be free to explore and choose their own “work”, at a child’s level using child-sized furniture and equipment. Allowing them to choose work that appeals to their inner sense of learning and allowing them to develop at their own pace without the pressure of adults trying to force the child to work that they are not ready for, and so not damaging their self esteem but nurturing self-confidence and independence.
At Little People’s Montessori Nursery we follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and the Montessori Method of teaching. Our classroom is set out over various areas, all of which help to enrich your child’s total development:
The “practical life” area has the first exercises your child is introduced to in Montessori education and they direct the child towards a natural independence. They learn to care for themselves and their environment. To dress themselves using the dressing frames, to pour using a variety of materials from rice to water, to polish, to sweep, and a host of other materials that allow them to master their environment. They create order whilst developing a sense of well-being and security.
The “sensorial” area helps them learn through their senses. Materials and apparatus are used to stimulate the child’s senses. The exercises help aid the child’s own natural intelligence through contrasting, pairing and grading. Children learn to judge heights, lengths, weights, colours, sounds, smells, shapes and textures.
Children’s spontaneous interest and wonder is supported in the cultural area as they learn about their immediate environment and the world as a whole through activities relating to geography, science and history.
The language area aids in teaching them the phonetic alphabet and expands their reading, language and communication skills. Children’s motor control is supported through the use of insets and association exercises such as the sand paper letters that prepare the child for language. Once the association with the shape of letters and their sound is grasped the phonetic qualities of words can be introduced.
Number materials are designed to teach children the recognition of numerals and give them a sound understanding of numbers and their relationships. An idea is always introduced in a simple and sensorial way so that the child can see, hold and feel a number or concept. Gradually the child is led to an abstract understanding. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, combinations, tables, fractions, squares and cubes are all available to the child when he or she is ready.
Arts, crafts, music, movement and dance activities appeal to the child’s sense of creativity whilst developing a range of fine and gross motor skills and an awareness of what their body is capable of physically.
All these areas in the Montessori classroom help to enrich your child’s total development.
The teacher or rather the directress, as Maria Montessori preferred to call her, uses her skills of observation to determine each child’s level of development and then introduces materials that are suitable for that child, guiding them in the proper use of that material, then allowing them to continue on their own. The directress is seen as a helper and guide by the children, someone who is there when needed, someone who will allow the child the freedom to do things for themselves. A guide to their world of independent learning. Helping them master their environment and becoming a well-rounded, happy, responsible member of their community.
The Montessori method is unique. It is based on a sensible balance of freedom and structure, specifically designed for the young child. It provides a welcoming environment with carefully prepared materials that meet the child’s natural needs. Guided by a thoroughly trained Montessori directress, Montessori gives your child a strong base and instills a life-long motivation for continuous learning, helping them develop into happy and fulfilled adults.