I am a fully qualified teacher in the Montessori Method. I have the Early Years Diploma in Pedagogy from the Montessori Centre International in London and a Primary Montessori Certificate from Montessori Partnership UK and several years experience of working in Montessori schools. I also have a BSC and MSC in Environmental Science, as well as Childminding (Accredited Childminder) and Playwork qualifications.
I was drawn to the Montessori method by a desire to teach, but not in the conventional method of a constant flow of information from teacher to child, regardless of the child being motivated to learn at that moment.
I prefer the Montessori Method where the teacher is more of a facilitator and children can move about and use specialised equipment that has been designed to encompass all five senses for the child's holistic development. The Montessori Method always tries to teach concepts in a concrete form before the child is gradually moved towards an abstract way of thinking.
The Montessori equipment is divided between the five subject areas of Mathematics, Sensorial (including some early maths), Literacy, Cultural and Practical Life with some overlap between the subject areas.
Water is transferred with a sponge
Within each area, the child is introduced to an activity, and when the child accomplishes it, a slightly more complex activity is introduced. Children are free to choose when they want to do an activity, what they want to do and how they want to do it (within reason!). They are also free to do nothing! The philosophy behind this is that a child will instinctively know what they want/need to do and are ready to learn and will be enabled to grow in concentration and ability by not being disturbed at their work.
We find that a child will often start the day with a simple task that they know they can achieve, to build their confidence and then push themselves by tackling a more difficult one.
Grinding coffee and wheat
In the Practical Life area the activities are based on real-life activities, such as hammering, threading and pouring. This encourages children towards independence and therefore potential to grow in confidence and self-esteem. These activities also give practise in fine motor control, such as pincer grip and gross motor control, such as balance.
The Sensorial equipment is designed to stimulate all the senses: smell, touch, taste, sight and sound. Individual activities stimulate an isolated sense without the distraction of other stimuli which can lead to the diminishment of an experience. Mathematical concepts, such as breadth and length are introduced here.
Literacy is taken in stages. We introduce children to pre-literacy games, such as I-spy to introduce them to the initial sounds of words. We then use sandpaper letters and objects to learn to write the sounds and the children practise writing the letters in a sandtray, leading to reading and writing with a pen. It is a phonetic way of learning to read.
In Mathematics we introduce children to sorting and matching games and then move on to sandpaper numerals and children being able to associate a particular number of objects with a numeral. Further concepts are introduced as a child is ready.
The Montessori Method tries to use as many natural products as possible and encourage a love of nature and the environment in children. In the Cultural area, the children learn about the globe, planets and then continents, countries and then their locality. They learn about lifecycles, geographical landforms, the watercycle and time through timelines, as well as other concepts.
Perusing the Asia box!
We also do creative work with the children, such as artwork, singing and movement and there is outdoor play equipment and lots of books to look at.
Some people are concerned that if a child is given so much freedom at this young age that they will not be able to conform to school life, where there is much more instituationalisation. The converse however is true! The more freedom a child is given at this stage in their development (within clear boundaries), the more they will have their needs met and the less dysfunctional they will be, enabling them to be flexible and able to conform at their next stage of development (around 7 years old), and able to adapt with greater ease to situations in later life.