The Montessori Method: What Will Your Kids Discover?
The Montessori method of education is highly esteemed and advocated by teaching professionals around the globe.
The key principles of the Montessori method are widely used by educators, particularly in the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Who Invented the Montessori Method?
The Montessori method was invented and practised by Maria Montessori; one of the most prolific Early Years practitioners of the 20th century.
Maria originally trained as a doctor. However, she worked closely with children with special needs in her role as a doctor which sparked her interest in learning and education. Maria went on to create schools for disadvantaged children; she worked within the schools closely observing the children. This helped her to discover more about the ways children learn, develop and succeed which she then implemented into her teaching and methodology. Undoubtedly, this helped shape modern methods of teaching and revolutionised stringent methods of education into a learning experience tailored for each individual child.
Maria Montessori’s method of education is very practical, removes boundaries and is individualistic. Her approach aims to foster pupil enthusiasm and focus which leads to success in later life. Maria Montessori’s approach encouraged a love of learning and independence. This approach aims for well-rounded development of the whole child. Interestingly, Maria Montessori discovered the most crucial stage of a child’s educational development is from birth to the age of 6.
Montessori Learning Environments
The Montessori classroom is a happy and positive place which encourages each and every child to be themselves. There are lots of fun things to do but also quiet areas for children to relax and take a break if needed.
Everything in the classroom should be designed with the child in mind. Did you know that Maria Montessori was the first educator to consider the size of classroom furniture, reducing the size so that it was suitable for the children? After all, the classroom is a place for pupils to learn so it should be tailored for their needs.
The Montessori classroom has plenty of opportunities for children to practice ‘real-life skills’. You can expect to see a variety of tasks for children to complete from threading activities to pouring liquids from one container to another to carrying furniture to different places and washing their hands.
Sensory exploration and refinement are also a key feature of a Montessori classroom. Sensory activities for EYFS could include exploration of different materials and moulding play dough into different shapes. As the senses become more refined and kids experience different sensations, they will develop confidence and the ability to try new things without fear.
Primary schools and early years settings across the UK have a real emphasis on reasoning and problem-solving. The key aim is for the children to develop a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. For example, a method introduced by Maria Montessori was associating numbers with quantity. It is important that children not only read and write numbers but understand the number represents an amount.
In terms of English and language skills, Maria believed children express themselves best when they are curious and keen to share their knowledge. Language should be learnt in steps. For example, children learn phonics in stages, which then progresses onto reading books and writing stories. The Montessori method is designed with the child at the very heart, providing the appropriate support and resources to help increase confidence, develop curiosity, and deepen educational knowledge.
The Montessori method advocates curiosity, creativity and self expression. This can be achieved through arts and crafts activities and exploring the world around us. Imagination is a fundamental part of the Montessori method and Maria Montessori believed in actually doing tasks, rather than pretending. For example, children would be given the opportunity to wash up and cooking rather than just pretending.
As well as activities inside the classroom, Maria Montessori advocated the benefits of exploring the great outdoors. In EYFS settings today, most educational providers have an outdoor area in their EYFS classrooms for the children. Outdoor exploration increases confidence, self-esteem and cements an understanding of the world around us.
Commonplace classroom activities, such as circle time, were firmly advocated by Maria Montessori. Such activities help teach children key social skills, such as taking turns and listening to one another. Both in the classroom and at home children should always be given the opportunity to observe and learn social skills, which can easily be achieved through everyday activities, such as using a knife and fork and taking turns to speak.
At Jaques of London, we firmly advocate the Montessori method of education. Many of our toys and games support the principles of the Montessori method. Examples include our Star Reward Charts, Marble Reward Jar, Easels and Craft Sets, our range of Maths toys and games, our Calendar Clock, Discovery Blocks, Sensory Board, Trapeze Bar, Swing Seat, Play Food and Musical Instruments. These products will be linked at the bottom of this page.
How Can I Create a Montessori Learning Environment at Home?
In the UK, millions of us have found ourselves responsible for home-learning during lockdown. The good news is you can easily implement Montessori techniques in the home. The wonderful thing about Montessori’s method is it is not restricted to the classroom; it encourages freedom in learning.
Montessori activity ideas include…
Treasure hunts/sensory pools – fill a bucket, sand tray or any large plastic container with sand. In the sand, hide a variety of objects made of different materials. This is a sensory activity as your children will be blindly searching for the objects in the sand. Challenge them to identify the object just from touch.
Circle time – this can easily be replicated at home! Create a family circle. Take it in turns to say one good thing that has happened today and share how you are feeling. This teaches crucial social skills, such as turn-taking and listening to others.
Make time for art! Set up a variety of art stations over time, choose a different type of art activity to keep your kids guessing. Creativity cannot be moulded so allow your children to have free reign with the paints and felt tips. Or give them a theme or a feeling to represent through art. You will be amazed at the results. Self-expression is crucial for childhood development and, in turn, this helps to develop self-confidence.
Allow time for garden exploration. Activities such as mini beast hunts and find the plant challenges are perfect for encouraging exploration, confidence with nature and helps to develop an understanding of the world around us.
When completing mathematical problems, challenge your kids to prove it. For example, if they correctly identify that 15 is larger than 13, they could make both amounts using pebbles and prove 15 is the larger number.
Make sure you check out Jaques of London’s free home-learning activities. They are quick and easy to download and have been designed with your kids in mind. The activities have been guided by the Montessori method of education.