The name Montessori refers to a method of education and a philosophy of life. The Montessori System of Education is a unique child-centred approach used and respected in countries all over the world and has contributed to the good practice on which countless early year’s programmes are based. This approach is at the core of our training programmes.
In a true Montessori classroom the child’s freedom, dignity and independence are of paramount importance; in many ways what the staff of a school should not be doing is almost as important as what they should.
Your first impression should be of a classroom where all is orderly, clean and inviting, with all the activities displayed so the children can reach them. Although some children will work in small groups, occasionally with a teacher, you should see most children working alone for most of the session. Montessori believed that three hours were necessary for the child’s ‘work cycle’ a period of self-directed activity when concentration was at its peak.
Because sessions are shorter in present-day Montessori schools most aim for two and a half hours. There should be a general atmosphere of children doing things for themselves carefully and competently – carrying furniture, setting tables, pouring drinks and washing their hands – and following activities which absorb and interest them.
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world"
- Nelson Mandela
Fundamental Principles of Montessori Schools
Principle 1: Classes in Montessori Schools are mixed-age and non-graded.
Mixed-age classes comprise at least three-year groupings corresponding to the Planes of Development: 3 – 6; 6 – 9 and 9 – 12 or 6 – 12; 12 – 15 and 15 – 18 or 12 – 18.
Mixed-age groups are not correlated to grades, nor are they divided in other ways according to achievement levels or normative standards.
Principle 2: Montessori schools accommodate an extended period of uninterrupted self-chosen activity – a period during which children can choose their own activity and work undisturbed for a minimum of three hours.
Principle 3: Rewards and Punishments are not used in a Montessori environment.
Principle 4: A prepared environment is a critical component of Montessori Pedagogy. The prepared environment:
Serves the developmental and pedagogical needs of the children using it;
Supports freedom of movement, speech and association;
Supports free choice of activity;
Facilitates normalization and valorisation;
Includes a full range of Montessori materials appropriate to the age for which it is prepared.
Principle 5: The adults in the Montessori environment exhibit and apply the principles of Montessori pedagogy through:
A disposition of respect and patience towards the child;
An ability to balance the principle of non-intervention while at the same time not abandoning the child;
Trust in Montessori principles, methodology and pedagogical aims;
Seeing the role of the adult as primarily observer, scientist and interpreter of the environment rather than as a teacher in the conventional sense;
Guiding the child to normalization and development appropriate to each Plane of Development.
Principle 6: Montessori schools develop curriculum guidelines which conform to the vision of child development and the educative goals outlined by Maria Montessori.
Curriculum & Activities
In the Montessori preschool environment, five distinct areas constitute the prepared environment:
Practical Life enhances the development of task organization and cognitive order through care of self, care of the environment, exercises of grace and courtesy, and coordination of physical movement.
The Sensorial area enables the child to order, classify, and describe sensory impressions in relation to length, width, temperature, mass, colour, pitch, etc.
Mathematics makes use of manipulative materials to enable the child to internalize concepts of number, symbol, sequence, operations, and memorization of basic facts.
Language Arts includes oral language development, written expression, reading, the study of grammar, creative dramatics, and children's literature. Basic skills in writing and reading are developed through the use of sandpaper letters, alphabet cut-outs, and various presentations allowing children to link sounds and letter symbols effortlessly and to express their thoughts through writing.
Cultural Activities expose the child to basics in geography, history, and life sciences. Music, art, and movement education are part of the integrated cultural curriculum.
Children grouped chronologically
Class seated at desks much of time
Class, as a group, studies one subject at a time
Class schedules and frequent interruptions limit child’s involvement
Postponement of cognitive development until first grade
Basal readers (traditional “see and say”) or “whole language” (non-traditional “see and say”)
Teacher “corrects” pupils’ “errors”
Children are different. Some can learn - others cannot
No implicit trust and respect for every child
Teacher is transmitter of knowledge
Answers are provided by teacher
Time periods allotted
Some are held back, some are pushed ahead
Children are dependent on the teacher
Teacher-directed with very little choice
Subjects are compartmentalized
Rewards and punishment (grades)
High student to teacher ratios
Non-graded (two or three year age span)
Students “work” at tables, group lessons on floor with freedom of movement
Children pursue their own self-paced curriculum, individually or in small groups, in various parts of environment
Long blocks of time and relatively few interruptions permit invaluable concentration
Critical cognitive skills developed before age six
Phonetic-based, multi-sensorial; more flexible writing and reading opportunities
Children learn from peers, self-correcting materials; teacher’s role as a guide
All children can learn. They are the same all over the world
Implicit trust and respect for every child.
Children learn through their own discovery and experience
Multi-age grouping for community atmosphere
Children correct themselves through control of error
No time restrictions
Each child learns at his/her own pace
Children work independently
Children are self-directed and make their own choice
Subjects are intertwined
Low student to teacher ratios