Is Montessori still relevant?

Research shows us that, far from being old-fashioned and obsolete, Montessoris ideas are now being recognised by educationalists, cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists worldwide. Her emphasis on holistic learning with the importance of structure, intrinsic motivation, sociality and emotional intelligence were all ideas ahead of their time. She felt that it was education that lay at the root of social dysfunction and that it was only by celebrating children as the hope of mankind, that we would ever be able to change the nature of society. She fought for a peaceful world that celebrated the fundamental unity underlying diversity and her teachings remain as applicable today as they were then.

It is very relevant because it focuses on the achievements and celebration of individual children, recognising their individual gifts and aptitudes to learning.   It promotes:

  • personal and intellectual independence, which enables the child to do and think for him/herself.
  • freedom with responsibility
  • initiative and resilience
  • high levels of self esteem
  • respect for self, others and the environment

All these are required for the citizens of our planet in the 21st  century.

What is the difference between Montessori and other approaches to education?

In Montessori schools the child is seen as a dynamic learner, full of creative potential and in need of the maximum possible freedom to be allowed to develop as a happy, confident individual. Montessori schools therefore place emphasis on the importance of process rather than product. In more traditional schools children are seen to be in need of more active instruction and control from adultsthere is less trust in the childs own inner abilities and more emphasis on ensuring defined results. So, Montessori schools are learner-centred, whereas traditional schools tend to be more teacher-centred.

As a pioneer of early years education Maria Montessori (18701952)   has left behind her a legacy of early years pedagogy that  celebrates the individual child and recognises the childs capacity for leading his/her learning in a well organised environment offering rich learning opportunities under the guidance of a well prepared educator.   Montessori s observations led her to formulate her pedagogy focused on childrens sensitive periods, their capacity for active learning through their senses, and education which takes place in a harmonious and respectful atmosphere.   These principles have been endorsed by neuroscientists of today and are reflected in many current approaches to early years education such as the EYFS or Reggio Emilia. The carefully prepared favourable learning environment supporting the individual progress of each child remains at the heart of Montessori education today.

Is Montessori only for nursery children?

Although most Montessori school in the UK are for children between the ages of three and six years, there is a small number of Montessori primary schools. With avoidance of constant competition and tests, here the children can continue to blossom, secure in their own individual skills and abilities. There is more in the way of a curriculum structure, but the children continue to have developmental freedom. And these schools frequently achieve consistently excellent reports from bodies such as Ofsted and subsequent entrance results to good next-stage schools.

How is discipline dealt with in a Montessori school?

Montessori schools believe that discipline is something that should come from within rather than something that is always imposed by others. They do not rely on rewards and punishments. By being allowed to be free in the environment, and learning to love and care for other people, the child develops confidence and control over his or her own behaviour. So Montessori teachers only step in when a childs behaviour is upsetting or disruptive to others. And then the child will be handled with respect and sensitivity. The belief is that children are by nature loving and caring, and the emphasis is on helping them develop the vital social and emotional skills needed for participating in true communitywhat we call emotional intelligence.

How do Montessori schools view imaginative play?

Maria Montessori saw the importance of truly creative imagination (based on reality).  When she watched children play she realised that they really wanted to be able to do real things in the real world.  Today, Montessori schools provide many opportunities for role play which supports children’s growing imagination, critical and creative thinking.

 

 

How will my child fit in with a more traditional system after leaving Montessori nursery?

Montessori children tend to be very socially comfortable. Because they have been encouraged to problem-solve and think independently they are also happy, confident and resourceful. So they normally settle into new schools very quickly and easily. In fact primary school teachers are often delighted to hear that a child has been in a Montessori school.

Are Montessori classrooms too structured?

Montessori discovered that structure was really important to help children feel safe and secure. She did a lot of experimentation to find out which, and how many, materials best suited the needs of the children. What she realised was that too much information was as bad as too little, and that children needed to be able to successfully build on their previous experiences. They could be overwhelmed with too many changes in toys and options. So she carefully structured what was available. Montessori teachers, therefore, always watch the children to ensure that the right materials are available to support their individual interests and needs.

Does Montessori encourage creativity?

Montessori practitioners believe that true creativity stems from individual freedom of expression. What you wont (or shouldnt) find in a Montessori school is 20 pieces of art to take home that all look the same. Your child will be encouraged to express him or herself through singing, dancing, acting, talking, drawing, painting, sticking, gluing, cutting, writing and role play. What we know is that, unlike adults, children arent really interested in the end result – they are much more interested in the fun and fascination of the creative process.

What kind of training do Montessori teachers have?

Montessori teachers tend to be people who really love being with children and who feel strongly about the importance of holistic approaches to learning. This philosophy often attracts more mature students, from very diverse backgrounds, who are disillusioned with conventional educational systems.

The training offered by the Montessori Centre International  is comprehensive and includes: in-depth investigation of the Montessori philosophy and materials, exercises of practical life, education of the senses, literacy skills, numeracy and understanding the world, art and craft, music and movement, drama, child development, observation and assessment, contemporary issues, childcare and health, safety, nutrition and special needs.

Montessori Centre International (MCI) (formally Montessori St Nicholas training College and London Montessori Centre)the only Montessori teacher training programme in the UK to offer the nationally recognised Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy, Birth to Seven (Early Years Educator) and a Foundation Degree in Arts (Montessori Early Childhood Practice)