About Montessori

Dr. Maria Montessori died in 1952 and she has left behind a legacy of child centered learning. Today it is still such a success as it focuses on the development of the whole child. The Montessori approach came from Maria Montessori’s in-depth work and observations of children and how they learn.
The starting point to the Montessori philosophy is the view of the child, as a confident, independent and natural learner. Every child is born with the desire for knowledge and Montessori believed in providing an environment that encourages the individual child to develop at their own pace.

Montessori is a beautiful, hands on approach to build the foundations for every child in their educational journey. Many questions have been raised by families if Montessori is too structured or too much freedom, we believe once you step into a Montessori environment you will see that Montessori has a perfect balance of both. In a Montessori prepared environment each child can freely explore and make choices about their learning.

The Absorbent Mind

The Montessori approach was built upon some very important principles and concepts. Firstly the Planes of Development – this refers to the stages each individual child goes through from birth to adulthood and the features of each learning stage.

We focus our work on the first plane of development, 0-6 The Absorbent Mind. Montessori identified that in this stage the child absorbs the world around them. The child is born with an inner desire to explore everything using their senses. This helps to create physical concrete experiences and become more independent. This process can be seen in every child who strives to learn their spoken language.

Sensitive Periods

Montessori referred to “windows of opportunities” or sensitive periods. This is when a child is drawn to work and explore on a certain task or area they need to achieve their developmental goals. From her observations Maria Montessori pin pointed that each child will have an inner need or “sensitivity” to a particular learning area. This sensitivity can occur at different times for individual children. However if this point is identified and the child is giving the opportunity to explore and work on this area then learning flows more naturally and easily.

The Prepared Environment

Key to a Montessori class is the third teacher – The Prepared Environment. This core idea allows the Montessori approach to reach the interest and attention of the child in a way no other classroom can. Emphasis is put on the child and their connection with the environment. The aim is about the process of learning.

As a Montessori Educator we take great pride in the careful attention that is giving to the “Prepared Environment”. This is our tool to support and develop children’s learning. What we put on the shelves is displayed with care and beauty, it has an intention and purpose.

By knowing that everything we put in our classroom has an inbuilt learning outcome, allows us to step back and allow the child the freedom to explore and build on their independence and discovery. The Prepared environment is a reflection on the concepts of the absorbent mind and sensitive periods. This is how Montessori has achieved a child centered learning environment.

Role of the Educator

Although we speak of the importance of the prepared environment and its role in the Montessori Approach, so too is the Montessori Directress. They are the link between the child and the environment. Many names can be used; Teacher… Facilitator… Educator however the notable difference of the Montessori Directress is the trust in the capabilities and the natural development of the child. A Montessori Directress has to be very in tune with each individual child and the group. Within the Montessori Class you will see the Educator observing and taking notes, they are busy identifying the stages each child is going through – “The sensitive periods”. This then allows the Educator to ensure the Prepared Environment is set up to meet the changing needs and interests of the child.

Although the Directress may have a plan or intentional aim it is always based on her observations of the child and their interest and progress. A Montessori Directress has to be constantly alert and flexible in order to follow the child and encourage actively working towards the child’s inner desire and directing this towards learning.