The Montessori classroom surrounds children with activities that will inspire and enhance their learning, with teachers who are highly-trained to enable them to recognise, follow and support each child’s current interests and needs in order to maximise their innate potential.
The classroom is a mini community where the younger children learn from watching the older ones and the older children increase in confidence and reaffirm their own knowledge by helping the younger ones. The environment is always beautiful and prepared with care. All of the materials, furniture and equipment are child-sized and laid out in such a way that the children can see, choose, enjoy and return any activity to its home on the shelf. Many materials are self-correcting enabling them to realise when they have made a mistake and work independently to problem solve without having to ask for help. Activities are designed to be ‘hands-on’ so that the children can explore them using all of their senses, and many materials are delicate which encourages them to handle them carefully, with thought and control.
The classroom is filled with brightly-coloured, scientifically-designed and aesthetically-pleasing materials. The shelves entice the children with boxes full of beads, crafted wooden shapes, delicate bowls and jugs, botanical puzzles, geometric shapes to feel and build, tactile letters and numbers, and plants and objects from the natural world.
"The tiny child's absorbent mind finds all its nutriment in its surroundings. Here it has to locate itself and build itself up from what it takes in. Especially at the beginning of life we must, therefore, make the environment as interesting and attractive as we can." (Maria Montessori - The Absorbent Mind)
The Montessori classroom is organised into 5 key areas:
1. Practical Life
Practical Life activities encourage the children to master everyday life activities which include how to look after themselves and their environment, for example, doing up buttons and zips, pouring a drink, preparing food, laying the table, transferring objects with tongs and sweeping. This aspect of the curriculum is vital in fulfilling their natural curiosity and supporting their journey towards independence. Through these purposeful activities the children learn to concentrate, co-ordinate their movements and develop fine motor skills which will facilitate later writing.
The sensorial materials are designed to enable the children to identify and refine information through their senses. They learn to explore the world in a scientific way: to perceive, compare, contrast, sort and discriminate between differences in size, shape, colour, texture, temperature, weight, smell, taste and sound, becoming increasingly aware of these nuances in the world around them. Because they expose the children to so many varied sensory experiences, boosting brain development, they form the foundations for future learning.
"There is in the child a kind of sensitivity which leads him to absorb everything about him, and it is this work of observing and absorbing that alone enables him to adapt himself to life. He does it in virtue of an unconscious power that exists in childhood." (Maria Montessori - The Absorbent Mind)
The children’s blossoming language skills are encouraged by one-to-one and small group teaching where they are able to listen and absorb the communication and language they hear in the classroom and to talk and share their thoughts and ideas with their teachers and peers. They are exposed to a broad vocabulary through the Montessori curriculum and enjoy a vibrant book corner, regular singing, music and movement, and musical instrument activities which also support their developing listening and attention skills. They are introduced to phonics through the tactile Sandpaper Letters, learning the phonic sound for each letter while tracing its shape, before moving on to build phonic words with lower case letters - supporting the development of writing and, eventually, reading.
The Montessori classroom provides a wonderful introduction to mathematics, numbers and problem-solving. The children are introduced to the tactile ‘quantities’ of numbers before moving on to the more abstract concept of their corresponding numerals which provides a strong core understanding of underlying mathematical principles. Numeral names and their shapes are introduced simultaneously with tactile Sandpaper Numbers, and writing them practiced in a tray of sand before putting pen to paper.
One of Maria Montessori’s visionary goals was to promote global understanding and world peace through education (she was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize). The children are, therefore, introduced to a broad and international cultural curriculum with classroom activities relating to people of all nationalities, ethnicities and beliefs. We celebrate many traditional festivals and religions throughout the year and explore stories, delicious food and music from other countries. The children are also introduced to aspects of: geography, biology, zoology and botany and they learn, for example, about life-cycles, the seven continents, plants, animals, the climate and the weather.
"Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future." (Maria Montessori - Dr Montessori's Own Handbook)
In addition to the traditional Montessori curriculum areas, we also enjoy:
Art and Design
The children are given the opportunity to develop their imagination and creativity with many varied and open-ended art and design-related activities.
The in- and outside classrooms provide a variety of opportunities for imaginary and role play, for example, a home corner, shop and hospital which the children enjoy on a daily basis.
Music and Movement
Musical instruments are always available for open-ended play and we also enjoy frequent singing, action songs and group musical instrument and music and movement activities.
The Outside Classroom
The children benefit from an outside play area where they can practice their gross motor skills: running, jumping, balancing, scooting and pedalling. With opportunities for planting and investigation they are also learning about the natural world. We practice ‘free-flow’ between the classroom and outer play area, providing the children with the opportunity to learn and play either inside or outside whenever possible.
The Montessori classroom is a calm, harmonious, peaceful, happy, fun environment in which the children are nurtured and encouraged to develop in their independence, self-confidence and learning, their respect and compassion for others and for the world. It is a safe and enticing space in which an interest in, and passion for life and knowledge will be lit, and will establish the foundations for every child's education for life.