The Montessori Teaching Method

Introduction to the Montessori Teaching Method

Montessori education aims at helping natural development, not simply imparting information. It is an attitude as well as a teaching system. An understanding of each individual child is crucially important. In a Montessori school the child is given a room where everything is the right size for him or her and everything is useful and interesting. They see other children playing and find that they can have companionship while participating in both child-initiated and adult-led experiences.

 

Children of pre school age have an absorbent mind for knowledge: they desire stimulation and this is found in a full and exciting environment through which they can explore and learn. For Dr Maria Montessori, learning was the key to children’s development and education and the main contributing factor to the child’s preparation for life. However, she also recognised that young children do not learn subjects, but that their learning is integrated and holistic in its nature. The child’s ability to observe, explore, investigate, ask questions, share ideas and so learn about the world is not necessarily organised into lessons or subjects. The child observes and explores when they become interested and when they are able to engage in an activity which involves their whole being. It is also generally agreed today that play is the most effective tool for the child’s learning and therefore we need to recognise that in the early years, ‘learning occurs constantly whether intentionally or incidentally’ (Macleod-Brunell 2004: 45).

 

At Ducklings Montessori Nursery it is our aim to develop the whole child and make their day fun. Each child’s progress is followed in a Unique Profile, which lists the progression of the activities and experiences they have participated in, building on skills they have learned. Each child’s individual profile is supplemented by detailed observations, samples of their work and photographs documenting their progress. These profiles are sent on to the child’s next setting and an individual photograph album is given to each family at the end of their child’s time at Ducklings. Each child is allocated a Key Worker and Parent consultations are held once a term, in order to give the key worker and parent/carer the opportunity to discuss their child’s progress and be closely involved in their development.

 

 

 

Montessori practice and the Early Years Foundation Stage

The areas of learning and development

There are seven areas of learning and development and all of them are important and inter-connected. Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates; and all areas of learning and development are equally important and integrated. Therefore at Ducklings our planning is based on developmentally appropriate activities, which reflect the child’s interest and promote engagement, concentration and exploration.

 

 

The seven areas of learning are as follows: The three prime areas are:

• Communication and language

• Physical development

• Personal, social and emotional development

 

The specific areas are:

• Literacy

• Mathematics

• Understanding the world

• Expressive arts and design

Click on the tabs on the left for more details on each area.

Communication and language development involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations.

Physical development is inherent in all the activities carried out at Ducklings.

Movement consists of gross and fine motor skills, awareness of space and balance. This area of learning takes place both indoors as well as outdoors. At the Nurseries we have extensive outdoor facilities including a large field attached to the settings where the children can participate in active outdoor play.

The Ducklings Montessori Nurseries are also committed to healthy-eating programmes as we offer a daily snack of fresh fruit and milk.

Personal, social and emotional development involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities.

The exercises for Everyday Living are an important part of the Montessori system of teaching.  The activities in this area reflect the children’s need to model behaviours reflecting their family life. They also allow children to contribute towards the cultural and social life of the classroom, offering them the opportunity to experience a sense of belonging. One of the aims of the practical life activities is to make a link between the home and Nursery environment.

This is done by representing tasks and activities which children may be already familiar with from their home environment such as pouring their own drinks, getting dressed, washing or sweeping the classroom. We also encourage social interaction and co-operation between the children, teaching them to be polite, considerate and kind

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In this area of learning, there are six key features, which focus on communication as well as use of language as a cognitive skill and the introduction of reading and writing.

At Ducklings we encourage conversation, discussion and dialogue as part of everyday life. The journey towards reading and writing is often initially motivated by personal interest, such as recognition of one’s own name, a friend’s or sibling’s names.

It is vital that we acknowledge that in the early years, this journey is likely to be longer and not as clearly defined as it is when the child is five, six or seven. The Montessori Language materials use all the senses to help children develop their language, communication and listening skills.

We also encourage the development of mark making and pencil control and the children enjoy listening to stories and spending time in the reading corner.

Children often come to Ducklings with a passive knowledge of numbers through everyday use, such as counting steps, reciting nursery rhymes, looking at number books and recognising numerals on car number plates or on houses. The Montessori mathematical apparatus offers children the opportunity to hold, count and manipulate objects which helps them to learn concepts through concrete activities.

The sensorial area of learning provides many opportunities for problem solving, reasoning and also for exploration of shape and space. For example, children can use the geometric cabinet to become familiar with shapes of varying sizes. Also participating in cooking activities encourages the children to weigh and measure out ingredients.

Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.

The activities in this area centre on real experiences that give children opportunities to observe, explore and investigate things such as trees, seasons, farmyard animals, the solar system, how a volcano works and so on.

The exploration of continents and their countries also give us opportunities to explore similarities and differences in the lives of children and their families around the world. We also include ICT as part of our curriculum as well as encouraging the children to explore everyday technology.

Creativity provides children with opportunities to develop both their practical skills as well as their imagination.

This area of learning acknowledges the importance of self-expression and highlights the need for children to have opportunities to participate in self-chosen and selfinitiated arts and craft activities, as well as music and movement and socio-dramatic play.

This approach relies on the adults’ observation skills and good range of resources to facilitate role play as it emerges.