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About Montessori

Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952)

Dr. Maria Montessori was a remarkable woman of her time. As the first female doctor of medicine in Italy, and through her interest in paediatrics, psychiatry and educational theory, she proposed her own philosophy of child development.

Dr. Montessori reached the conclusion that the most sensitive period in a child's development is the first six years, when they are developing their five senses, absorbing language, and becoming aware of their surroundings. Montessori set out to assist children along their path of human development by creating a specially prepared environment, which has become the most successful and enduring method of teaching now known as the Montessori method.

What does 'Montessori' mean?

Dr. Maria Montessori's objective was to help all children reach their maximum learning potential, while becoming well-balanced individuals able to cope with the emotional, social and practical pressures of modern-day living.

Montessori education provides a range of experiences to stimulate a child's love of learning and discovery. With the right approach, children learn willingly, so the Montessori teacher is gentle, sympathetic and full of encouragement for the child. She is viewed more as a friendly helper, there to give guidance, rather than as a teacher to be obeyed.

Her role is to encourage positive attitudes, to help create strong individuals, and to provide the stimulus and inspiration for the child to learn and progress. The essence of Montessori education is that every child is treated with respect, given freedom within the limits of a carefully structured environment, and allowed to develop naturally at his or her own pace.

The Montessori child is taught in a way that encourages maximum response without pressure. He chooses from a wide range of self-educating activities to assist this process, working at each for as long as his individual attention span will ensure success. The teacher will be on hand at all times to encourage, to answer questions, and to promote a harmonious learning atmosphere.

The Montessori educational approach looks for more than retention of knowledge, aiming to generate security, trust and independence in the child. Montessori will prepare the child to fit into any situation and to move on to primary or secondary education with confidence.

The Montessori Teaching Materials

The materials which originated from Dr. Montessori's earliest schools, still prove of immense value when educating the modern child. The equipment is attractive and fun to use. Many items include an in-built control of error, enabling the child to be automatically alerted to a mistake and to correct their actions, without requiring assistance from the teacher thus avoiding the frustration of failure.

All of the materials are presented by highly trained teachers, who carefully observe each child and select materials to suit their individual needs.

Practical Life

These 'home from home' exercises involving pouring, sorting, threading, and polishing help the children develop confidence in their actions and respect for their surroundings. The intricate activities absorb the children and help to increase their co-ordination and attention span.

Sensorial

One of Dr. Montessori's key discoveries was the role played by the child's senses as part of the learning process. The sensorial materials are designed to help the children develop their ability to make judgements and compare and discriminate on the basis of texture, colour, sound, shape, smell, taste and temperature.

Mathematics

As a result of the materials' attractive appearance and simplicity, maths is made appealing and fun, reinforcing Montessori's philosophy that children gain knowledge through their senses. The method is designed to introduce one concept at a time. Children progress from simple counting rhymes, songs and games to gaining an understanding of quantities and symbols, allowing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to come as natural steps.

Language Skills

Throughout the day, listening and communication skills are enriched with songs, rhymes and books. The alphabet is taught phonetically, the emphasis being on the child's visual, auditory and tactile senses. For example, tracing letter shapes on sandpaper reinforces visual recognition. Moveable letters and the Montessori reading series help children to start gradually building three letter phonetic words and ultimately longer ones.

Cultural

Typical of the Montessori way of respecting wide ranging festivals and celebrations, the termly projects reflect the importance of cultural understanding. Through the projects, the children gain a broad introduction to geography, history and botany.