Montessori Education is both a philosophy of child growth and rationale for guiding such growth based upon Montessori’s scientific observations of children. Montessori education offers a vision of education based on an attitude of care and respect for the young children. The focus is on the development of the whole child and the provision of an environment complete with enriching activities that will foster growth in this vital period of development.
Montessori education provides children with opportunities to develop self-confidence and self-discipline – skills for life.
Montessori classrooms are bright, spacious multi-age learning communities. Children are free to move about and enjoy independently chosen activities. The environment is naturally visually pleasing and has a well maintained structure and order. It is a nurturing and enriching prepared learning environment based on the needs and the natural development of children.
Children experience a blend of freedom and self-discipline in a place especially designed to meet their developmental needs. Practical occasions for developing social relationships through free interaction occur naturally. Respect is encouraged in all relationships in this environment.
The inherent flexibility of the Montessori program allows it to be adapted to the needs of children regardless of their level of ability, learning style or social maturity.
The Montessori teacher is an observer whose ultimate goal is to intervene less and less as children develop. The teacher creates an atmosphere of calm, order and joy in the classroom and is there to help and encourage the children in all their efforts. Knowing how to observe constructively and when, and how much, to intervene, is one of the most important talents of a Montessori teacher.
Under the guidance of a Montessori trained teacher, children in a Montessori classroom learn by making discoveries with the materials, cultivating concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning that remains with them for life.
The Montessori prepared learning environment provides a range of manipulative materials that are organised and made available to children for independent use which stimulates the natural instincts and interests of children for self-directed learning.
A wide range of activities and manipulative materials are arranged in the following learning and exploration areas and are provided for physical, intellectual, language social emotional, spiritual and creative development.
Practical Life activities develop personal care skills, social skills and provide opportunities for exploration of water and fine grains, physical development both fine and gross motor movements, refinement of movement and development of creative imagination. Example of activities: pouring, spooning, squeezing, folding, carrying, opening/closing, twisting, screwing/unscrewing, dressing frames, polishing and washing.
Sensorial activities offer children opportunities for exploration and discovery of sorting, matching and stacking. Intrinsic qualities of the learning materials are possible to discover through exploration, clarifying, classifying through experience and naming including such attributes as size, colour, shape and dimension. Example of activities: cylinder blocks, pink tower, broad stair, long rods, colour boxes, geometric shapes, progressive/ sorting activities, touch boards, fabric box, touch tablets, sound boxes.
Cultural Activities involves exploration of art, crafts, music, drama, science and nature, history and geography. Example of activities: painting, pasting, gluing activities facilitating creative exploration and development, reconstructed environment using animal models i.e. farm, zoo, nature table, concept of time, stories of life, picture stories of other cultures, matching pictures, puzzle maps, nature puzzles, picture and lifecycles stories. Experiments sinks / floats, magnetic / non-magnetic.
Language activities provide for an integrated language arts approach in which speaking, listening, reading and writing develop in unison. Example of activities: library, stories, poems, nursery rhymes and songs. Insets for design develop basic skills for use of the writing instrument, sandpaper letters – develop phonemic awareness and early reading skills.
Mathematic activities – the manipulation of concrete materials facilitates exploration of and understanding of mathematical concepts and facts. Example of activities: sorting, grouping, matching, ordering, counting activities, number rods & symbols, sandpaper numerals, spindle box, counters & numeral cards, memory games.
Dr Maria Montessori is one of the most influential pioneers of early childhood education and her ideas are recognised throughout the world. She developed an educational approach based on her understanding of children’s natural learning tendencies.
Choosing Montessori Education Parents want the best possible Montessori experience for their child and by visiting a Montessori classroom, observing and asking the following questions they will be in a position to make an informed choice. Montessori teachers welcome these questions and embrace the opportunity to demonstrate that Montessori education is truly education for life!
- Are interactions with children respect responsive warm and caring?
- Has the teacher appropriate recognised Montessori qualifications?
- Is the Montessori ethos evident in the environment and in the interactions with children and staff?
- Are there Montessori materials available and accessible to the children?
- Do the teachers engage in continuous professional development?
St. Nicholas Montessori Teachers Association offer Montessori Preschools the opportunity for support and mentoring
Montessori Schools that have accredited Montessori programmes are listed on www.imebtrust.org.ie