Belmont Montessori School is dedicated to following Dr. Maria Montessori's philosophy and methodology. It is hands-on, multi-aged, developmentally appropriate, independent learning environment for children.
The Montessori Method of Teaching
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) has been one of the most influential pioneers in early childhood education this century. Her ideas have become known and recognised throughout the world and have significantly influenced mainstream education.
Because of her medical background she approached education not as an educator or philosopher, but as a scientist. She used the classroom as her laboratory for observing children and for developing her ideas about the best ways of helping them achieve their full potential.
Dr. Montessori put her ideas into practice, retaining and developing those that obviously worked. So great was her success that she travelled the world, establishing schools and lecturing about her discoveries. She wrote numerous books and many articles. She died in Holland in 1952 at the age of 82.
She left the legacy to the world of a method of education, which combines a philosophy with a practical approach based on the central ideas of freedom for the child within a carefully planned and structured environment. She advocated that all children are intrinsically motivated to learn and that they absorb knowledge without effort when provided with the right kind of activities - at the right time of their development.
The Principles we Follow
- We provide the children with freedom to work within a well-planned and organised environment that enables them to grow and learn at their own pace
- We believe every child is an individual profoundly affected by the quality of its early experience
- We provide an atmosphere, which promotes respect and concern for all individuals and their environment
- We believe in a child’s creative potential, the drive to learn and right to be treated as an individual
- We believe working within mixed age groups of 3 to 6 years children may develop a social and well-rounded personality
- We believe harmonious surroundings help to develop the child’s natural potential
- We believe Montessori education provides the best possible foundation for life.
We aspire to emphasise the importance of independence, self-confidence, self-discipline, curiosity, creativity, problem-solving, co-operation and respect for others and self; thereby helping to develop competent, considerate, responsible members of society.
The Montessori approach aims to allow children to grow naturally, to retain their individuality and develop their own personality.
Maria Montessori’s education principles are based round these central ideas outlined as follows:
Universal Characteristics of Childhood
- All children want to learn. With the freedom to investigate the world around them, they will become active learners
- From birth to 6 years of age, children have an absorbent mind. Everything that occurs in their life has a profound effect and therefore, the quality of early experiences is of fundamental importance to their self-construction
- Children pass through sensitive periods in their development.
The Prepared Environment
There should be physical, intellectual and social freedom. Everything is child-sized and all the activities are within reach to allow free choice. Control flows from self-discipline.
Structure and Order
The classroom is ordered and well planned. The curriculum and teaching materials are carefully selected and presented to the children. This provides a structure for the learning
Simplicity and Aesthetic Awareness
The classroom is not over-crowded or over-stimulated with attention being paid to the development of aesthetic awareness.
Nature And Reality
There is emphasis on bringing about awareness of the real world and in particular, the children are encouraged to take care of and learn to understand and respect the natural world around them.
The Montessori materials cover development activities designed to meet the needs of children in five curriculum units:
- Practical Life
The Montessori Method of Education is both a philosophy of child growth and rationale for guiding such growth.
It is based on the child’s developmental needs for freedom within limits, and a carefully prepared environment which guarantees exposure to materials and experiences through which to develop intelligence as well as physical and psychological abilities. The child needs adults to expose him to the possibilities of his life, but the child himself must direct his response to those capabilities.
With the belief that a child, given the freedom to experience and experiment will be the best gauge of his own readiness for academic, social and physical activities, Dr. Montessori initiated a child-centred personalised programme which integrates all aspects of the child’s development.
The Montessori Method of Education recognises the following unique qualities of young children:
- Children are to be respected as different from adults and as individuals who differ from each other
- The child possesses unusual sensitivity and mental powers for absorbing and learning from his environment
- The most important years of growth are the first six years of life when unconscious learning is gradually brought to the conscious level
- The child has a deep love and need for purposeful work. He works not for profit or completion of a job as an adult ,but for the sake of the activity which accomplishes for him, his most important goal, the development of himself-his mental, physical and psychological powers.
The materials used in the Montessori school provide sensorial experiences which enable a child to develop a keen sense of awareness of his environment and thus strengthen his ability to cope with it.
Our objectives then as Montessori Teachers are:
- To maintain an environment which will develop within each child a feeling of self-acceptance and esteem;
- To provide an atmosphere which promotes respect and concern for all individuals;
- To provide stimulating materials and guidance in the use of these materials which will enable each child to realise his full potential;
- To help the child to accept the limits of life in a democratic society;
- To extend early home experiences in an environment planned through living and learning with peers;
- To provide opportunities for exploration and creativity;
- To foster basic health patterns in daily living;
- To provide an attitude of appreciation for the material world in which we live;
- To encourage rational thinking, fair-play, self reliance and individual freedom and responsibility;
- To respect each child’s individuality and promote attitudes, interests and understandings which will enable him to be a happy, secure contributing member of society
The Practical Life Exercises
Designed by Dr. Montessori, The Practical Life Exercises are the foundation of
The aim is to bridge the gap from home to school and to aid the child in that transition.
The Practical Life Exercises are aimed at developing the child in all aspects and as such follows a pattern that:
- Help the child to grow in self-knowledge;
- Help the child to grow in self-image and independence;
- The exercises give him awareness of his/her environment and of his culture;
- Develop motor co-ordination and control of movement;
- Develop a spirit of helpfulness and responsibility;
- Develop a sense of order and help to build a child’s concentration.
Dr. Maria Montessori realised that the hand was the instrument of the brain and once the intellect had been set to work concentration could begin. All the Practical Life Exercises have a purpose, a Point of interest and have a great appeal for the children. The exercises are numerous and become more complicated as the child matures.
The Sensorial Materials
When Dr. Maria Montessori first started to work with the Materials she noted:
(a) How often the child returned to a particular exercise
(b) What was the child’s reaction?
(c) The effect it had on the child’s total development.
The Materials have specific aims:
- To isolate the sense being taught;
- To be actively provoking;
- To be self- correcting;
- To lend itself to grading and pairing;
- To be attractive to the child and draw him to work.
Maria Montessori realised that by developing to the fullest potential each sense ,we could then introduce their interactions with one another and their co-ordination. Sub –consciously for example, the child becomes aware of dimension and absorbs the basis of decimal system
The Sensorial materials bring about a development where the child can compare, distinguish and discriminate, where he can work with one or more of the exercises together in smooth motorisation and mental conception.
The Montessori Method produces a calm and self-sufficient young person who acquires great self-discipline and confidence.
Preparation: Writing and Reading
How strange it may seem that writing comes before reading, but it does. The child in a Montessori School automatically knows how to hold a pencil and enjoys making his insets for Design. These shapes incorporate all the shapes needed to form the letters of the alphabet. When a child learns the sounds of the letters he is quick to learn to write them. The Phonic method of learning to read produces understanding because a child first learns the phonic sound of each letter.
Then he learns how to build words by putting two or three letters together and once he recognises the sound he hears with symbols he can soon work out words for himself.
Montessori teachers see this happening every day.
Once he knows how words are composed he is led very gently to reading through a well prepared scheme. We also teach prepositions and tenses (ie. I want to paint not me want to paint)
In a Montessori School, Readers are people not books.
Grammar is also introduced as an extension of the reading scheme. This helps the child’s intellectual approach to language
Through Maria Montessori’s deliberately designed method the child makes the smooth progression from concrete to abstract thinking.
He handles and sees the concrete form of the quantity before he meets the symbol and so the impression is well imprinted in his mind when he comes to work with written or the abstract form.
Progressing through the various stages the child learns to count and to compute with satisfaction.
The Montessori School
Dr. Montessori realised that there were three main stages in the development of the person from infancy to adulthood and consequently designed her groupings to suit these stages:
- 0-6 (0-3; 3-6) years
- 6-12 (6-9; 9-12) years
- 12-18 (12-15; 15-18) years
The young child of 3 years is busy building up his attributes through the various Practical Life and Sensorial Materials so that he is quite undisturbed by the work of his 5 year old classmates and vice versa. Often an older child who feels unsettled becomes calm soon after reverting to a Practical Life Exercise for some time and so the varied stimuli provided to extend to the mixed age groups are most beneficial.
Similarly a young child might be fascinated by a more advanced exercise and will store impression until he needs to use it later. There is great harmony with the older children serving the younger child