What is Montessori?
The first woman in Italy to graduate in medicine from the University of Rome, Maria Montessori (1870-1952) worked with mentally challenged children, and began her lifelong pursuit of studying child development. In 1907, based on her research in philosophy, child development and education, she opened the first Casa dei Bambini. This is where the Montessori Method of education was developed and she spent most of her remaining life writing, lecturing and teaching about these methods. The Montessori method believes that children learn directly from their environment and other children. The teacher is there to facilitate the child’s exploration and creativity. All subjects are interwoven and the child learns at their own pace. This helps each child gain independence and confidence, and be proud of their own achievement. Montessori children are usually very adaptable as they have learned to work both independently and in groups.
Since they have been encouraged to discuss their work freely with others and to make decisions from an early age, Montessori children are problem-solvers who can make appropriate choices and manage their time well. Their good communication skills make the transition to new settings or situations much easier. Research has shown that the best predictor of future success is a positive sense of self-esteem. The Montessori curriculum is based on self-directed, non-competitive activities, to help children develop strong self-image and the confidence to face challenges and change with optimism.
Why Choose a Montessori Nursery?
Children, in general, want to learn. With the freedom to investigate and absorb the world around them, they will become active learners. In the Montessori environment, children have the freedom (within limits) to choose their own activities from many stimulating and motivating materials from the open shelves. With this freedom of choice, children will develop personal responsibility and self-discipline and become enthusiastic learners.
The Montessori environment provides a holistic approach to learning and is very much child-centered. Children progress at their own pace and lessons are given on an individual basis or in small groups. This enables the teacher to discover more about each individual child and their inner development. Children develop best in a caring environment where they are allowed to express themselves and learn from their experiences. The Montessori environment is a nourishing place for children and prepared with children in mind. The environment is responsive to the continually changing needs of the growing child and the calm, purposeful atmosphere contributes greatly towards the children’s communication skills.
“Show me and I’ll remember today,
Teach me and I’ll remember tomorrow,
Allow me to discover and I’ll remember forever!”
The Montessori Classroom
The Montessori classroom is a “living room” for children. Children choose their activities from open shelves with self-correcting materials, and work in distinct work areas – at tables or on rugs on the floor. Their learning is integrated and holistic in approach.
The practical life activities enhance the development of task organization and cognitive order through care of self, care of the environment, exercises of grace and courtesy, and refinement of physical movement and coordination.
The sensorial materials enable the child to order, classify and describe sensory impressions in relation to length, width, temperature, mass, colour, etc.
The Montessori math materials, allows the child to internalize the concepts of number, symbol, sequence, operations and memorization of basic facts.
The Montessori approach to reading and writing happens simultaneously and lessons are based on the phonics approach. Basic skills in reading and writing are developed through the use of sandpaper letters, providing the opportunity to be introduced to both the letter shape and sound. Children are also encouraged to ‘write without writing’ using their knowledge of letter sounds and shapes to make words using the moveable alphabet.
Materials that focus on geography, history and life sciences are also provided, and ample opportunity is given for, music and movement and art and crafts.
At Wirral Montessori Academy our classes are filled with children of mixed age 2 – 5 years old. We find the younger children enjoy watching and learning from the older children and therefore progress at a greater speed, while the older children gain confidence through their ability to help and guide the younger children through positive examples and model behaviours.
A typical session at Wirral Montessori Academy begins with a Montessori free ‘play’ (work) period of 2.5 hours (the cycle of activity). This cycle of activity provides the children with the opportunity to become engaged in a variety of activities that reflect their growing interest. The classroom is filled with materials and activities that nurture the childrens growing developmental needs as well as their interests, and are real or three dimensional not merely pictorial representations. The materials available encompass the six areas of learning and development.