The Montessori approach to education of the child is based on the principles developed in the early 1900s
by an Italian educationalist, Dr Maria Montessori.
Dr Montessori has since become recognised as an outstanding pioneer in early-years education and
her ideas have filtered through into mainstream education today.
The main tenets underpinning the Montessori philosophy are:
- A child up to 6 years of age has an enormous capacity to acquire knowledge,
due to the so-called "absorbent mind".
- A child will be very disposed to acquiring knowledge, i.e. learning,
through careful stimulation and the fostering of self-respect and respect for others.
- The environment is paramount in creating the conditions to fully engage the child to learn,
at their own pace and without restriction or criticism.
Montessori nurseries differentiate themselves clearly from other nurseries by the environment created in the classroom.
The furniture, teaching materials and learning tools are designed to establish an environment
where the child experiences learning which is fascinating and absorbing, stimulating further discovery,
rational thought and independence.
The role of the "teacher" is different from that of the conventional teacher.
Through careful observation of the child, the "teacher" directs the child towards activities
that will fulfil the child's needs. Hence, a Montessori "teacher" is referred to as a Directress.
The Montessori approach is not simply concerned with intellectual development
but seeks to create a "well-rounded" individual.
The Montessori approach is a universal one, equally suitable for the gifted and the retarded,
and thrives in an international or multi-cultural setting.
The overall goal is to foster a confident, happy child, instilled with an enthusiasm for learning
and armed with a healthy respect for others.
Further information can be obtained from www.montessori.org.