Montessori is an approach to early education that focuses on the immense capacity of children to absorb information when given the freedom and independence to learn at their own pace. It takes its name from Dr. Maria Montessori whose scientific background and belief in the potential and uniqueness of children empowered her to develop an educational approach that appreciates how children’s thought processes differ from those of adults. Her insights and approach to child development have been enormously influential all over the world, both through what has become the Montessori movement and through mainstream education, which has come to accept many of her practices. Increasingly, evidence from scientific research on how the brain develops, supports Montessori’s views on how children learn and how to optimise their developmental progress. What makes the Montessori approach different, and what makes it work so well, is that it is based on this deep understanding of the way children learn – through choosing, trying and doing themselves. When allied to the availability of specially developed materials in a prepared environment, and the close observation and guidance of a Montessori-trained teacher, this leads to an enormously powerful, confidence-building approach to learning.
By understanding how children learn, and providing them with tools and opportunities tailored to the way they experience the world around them, the Montessori approach allows children to learn through understanding, rather than through being told. From this understanding comes confidence, a joy in learning and the capacity to concentrate. At the same time there is a strongly physical dimension to many Montessori activities, encouraging refinement of large movements, balance, dexterity, and appreciation of shapes, colours and sizes. Particularly in its approach to language and mathematics Montessori begins with real experiences of the environment surrounding the child which illuminate abstract concepts – gradually building to a deep and permanent understanding of what most adults take for granted. What all these elements have in common is that they are providing the building blocks of future learning, hardwiring a child’s capacity to engage with new material and information and providing the tools with which to manipulate it.
Montessori is, literally ….learning for life.
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