Montessori education


There are over 700 Montessori schools in the UK. These are schools that follow the philosophy laid down by Maria Montessori, an influential thinker about childhood education. Maria Montessori was born in Ancona, Italy in 1870.  She observed that given the right environment, children could develop beyond conventional expectations.

In a Montessori classroom children are encouraged to choose the activity they wish to partake in and complete it in their own time. Once they are used to making their own choices, they are naturally attracted to what will best serve their educational needs

Teachers should get to know the children they are teaching, understand what they need and so create an environment in which they learn about those things for themselves. In a Montessori classroom there are many strands to the thought process behind the child learning.

Starting to learn...........
In a practical aspect the children are taught to develop their own ability to care for and to look after themselves. This includes appreciation and care for the environment in which they live.

Dressing skills are practised on specially made frames which allow them to try zips, buttons, bows and buckles.
They use little jugs filled with beans or rice and then water to practice pouring; they spoon, scoop, or use droppers, tweezers and even chopsticks to transfer from one bowl to another. Most children love these tasks and it develops both hand and eye co- ordination and thinking skills
Using child sized replicas of real equipment e.g. brushes, washing-up bowls and cloths, cleaning and polishing kits, even a tiny safe iron and ironing board children enjoy daily activities as in life.  There are also varied opportunities for pairing socks, folding and sorting clothes, setting a table, plaiting and sewing - even packing a tiny suitcase.
This gives children confidence as well as the competence through practical life activities. The added purpose is that children who work on real tasks which involve the hand and the mind together develop better concentration powers, which is the best possible preparation for the intellectual work to come.

Sensorial approach to learning
There are many beautiful wooden coloured geometric shapes which are prevalent in Montessori schools. These are used and displayed for children to use with their hands. They are teaching the children a sense of feeling.

The ability to match, to sort, to grade and to enjoy sharing with each other. Some materials, like the cylinders of the geometric insets which are held by their little knobs between finger and thumb, prepare the muscles of the hand for writing.
Montessori Shelves

On the Sensorial shelves there will be specially designed materials to encourage development of the senses, such as a tower of pink blocks; sets of cylinders graduated in size; cylinders with knobs which have to be fitted into the right holes in a block; rough and smooth tablets in boxes; smelling bottles; fabrics to sort by touch; puzzle blocks called the binomial and trinomial cubes which are interesting in themselves but later turn out to be a physical illustration of mathematical formulae.

Each of these is used to stimulate and refine one of the ten sensory areas and each will be presented to the child to be used in an exact way to aid his development. The sensorial materials also prepare the child for reading and writing.
Cultural subjects
Many schools have cultural boxes, one for each country, filled with all the exotica teachers can find to bring new places alive. On festival days schools may celebrate with tastes of exotic foods, learn songs from other countries or invite a guest or parent to show and tell about special costumes and celebrations.

Magnets, light, air, and even building simple circuit boards are some of the Science materials used to give opportunities to experiment. Most classrooms have a nature table or pets corner.


Children handling number rods, counting out beads, counting spindles into boxes and arranging coloured counters in patterns - odd and even numbers gain a physical impression of size and quantity long before they begin to manipulate numbers by. Numbers are built up using glass or wooden beads and their sandpaper symbols traced with the fingers.

Single Shape Puzzle
Chunky Peg Number Boards
Time & Balance

Children building up their first words phonetically using cardboard letters. This often comes before writing which is learned by colouring intricate shapes drawn with insets, and sandpaper letters are experienced by touch as well as by sight and sound. In a Montessori classroom the reading scheme may be colour coded so that the children know where to go and can help themselves to the appropriate book for their reading ability. There may be objects such as a toy cat, an apple etc in the box. This enables the child to look at the toy, say the word, listen to the sounds and find the letters to make the words.
There are always a wide range of books available to the children to increase their writing skills and to inspire their writing skills.
Art and music
The classroom in a Montessori school will be equipped with sensory equipment and there will be allocated areas for Art and Music. These will always be freely available as well as being encouraged to use them in group activities lead by the teacher.
The music sessions will include singing, dancing, performing and using any unusual instrument available especially those from different cultures.
There is always the opportunity to play outside as this is where children will develop their gross motor skills. They will climb, jump enjoying swinging as well as learning social activities such as taking turns, lining up and waiting. All these activities improve listening skills as well as concentration and spatial awareness.
Gardening, growing and building activities as well as playing with water and sand are important features of the philosophy behind Maria Montessori’s thinking and are used daily in the nursery.
Social skills
Children are taught the appropriate greetings for the culture of the Nursery. This may be shaking hands, rubbing noses or kissing. Children are taught to move quietly around the classroom, to appreciate other people need attention, keep the classroom tidy, and to help each other.

Sand Drawing Boxes Why choose Montessori
..."Tell me I hear, show me I know, involve me I understand." 
This quote is often used to describe a Montessori type education.  It is one of the main advantages of a Montessori type education. Children feel totally involved and hence there concentration should improve. There may be less structure than in some nurseries/childcare organisations but this may be good while the children are so young.

Montessori principles in teaching are excellent and give most children a firm foundation for later schooling. Again it may not suit all children, or all parents but the choice is there for the parents to decide.

In my experience I have found that the Montessori principles and disciplines are excellent. In a normal household and as children will play with all other children they quickly learn to adapt and to be aware of each other and their needs. Most Montessori schools will realise that children may have to attend Primary schools later in life and prepare them for a more structured and larger environment.

As a parent my children enjoyed a Montessori nursery and they had no trouble adapting to an Infant school. At home I was probably more structured and they were used to both environments. I can only say that my children look back on their Nursery days with many happy memories.

It is important to look at the broader picture when choosing a nursery and to have some idea what you want for the future for your children. In this way you can prepare both yourself and your child to the various routines and ways of life.

Remember it may take any child some time to adapt and be happy. This is usually due to personality, age, home circumstances and experiences that they have had in their short life. As a parent you need to be positive, supportive of your choice of school and aware that perhaps other children may not be as lucky as your children.

Maria Montessori had very positive ideas and was thinking of the whole child’s well being. In today’s world this philosophy must be a good one. Quanty

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