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The Montessori Method

The Montessori method and philosophy began almost a century ago, in 1907, in Rome, Italy. Maria Montessori, a scientist, physician, anthropologist and philosopher, developed this method of education for children as the result of continuous scientific observations of the children of San Larenzo.

Maria Montessori noticed that the children had sensitive periods. During these sensitive periods the child works within one area of the environment at a time. Sensitive periods bring on intense concentration, so intense that the child will be almost unaware of the rest of his surroundings. The child during sensitive periods will also continuously repeat an activity until an inner satisfaction is met. 

Montessori explained the accomplishments of the child’s highly developed cognitive skills with a description of what she called the absorbent mind. Montessori often said, “Impressions do not merely enter his mind; they form it” (Absorbent Mind, 1995). The absorbent mind first prepares the unconscious. The mind then slowly awakens to the conscious level, establishing memory, and the power to understand and reason. The knowledge that the child is internally seeking is then absorbed.

The Montessori method of teaching was created so that Maria Montessori’s philosophy could be implemented. Montessori believed the environment was second to life itself. She said, “it can modify in that it can help or hinder, but it can never create” (The Montessori Method, 1912).

 

The Environment – the Montessori classroom is a home away from home, a happy place full of friends where each child can be themselves.  It is a place full of interesting things to do, but also a place where you can take time out and just be quiet if you want to.  It is somewhere where you can grow up knowing that you belong and that you are special.  There are six essential components to the prepared environment: freedom, structure and order, reality and nature, beauty and atmosphere, the didactic materials, and the development of community life.

 

The Children’s Space – The layout of the classroom encourages exploration, communication and the development of relationships on all levels. Everything reflects a dedication to quality, beauty and to the children’s abilities to do things for themselves.  Montessori wanted the classroom to be a happy, friendly place where the children felt at home, where they knew where everything was and where they didn’t always have to rely on adults to help them.

Everything in a Montessori classroom is made to be easily accessible to the children. Montessori was the first educator to produce child-sized tables and chairs and to think about the fact that children need to have cupboards and shelves at their own height. She wanted the children to feel that the schoolroom belonged to them rather than the teachers.

 

Classroom Structure

Early Childhood (Yellow Room) is where the magic begins.  This is your child’s introduction to school, where busy toddlers explore, experiment and absorb from their environment.  With careful guidance these young learners are shown how to operate within the carefully prepared environment, following the classroom ground rules and spend busy days playing and interacting with one another.

Preschool (Blue Room) is specifically designed to stimulate and engage children’s senses, enabling exploration and discovery in order to address each child’s insatiable curiosity.  Here they will cultivate strong characteristics such as motivation, concentration, self-discipline and a genuine love of learning.

Primary School (Green Room) is where the child seeks challenges through asking the big questions; who am I? What am I? And where did I come from?  They have a fascination for history, geography and science encouraged by practical experimentation and exploration through multi-mediums. These busy youngsters also need plenty of physical activity and rigor outdoors.