The Montessori Background
The Montessori Approach is recognised around the world as an educational method that delivers outstanding benefits to young children. Storybook is the first Montessori accredited nursery to open in Ascot and one of only a handful of schools in Berkshire to hold the accreditation.
Often referred to as a holistic process, the Montessori Approach sees the whole picture – encompassing teaching, socialising and interaction and learning environment. In this way the various elements combine to establish educational value and aid childhood development.
Gaining our accreditation in 2020, the Montessori Accreditation International (MAI) report noted that “children learn and develop in beautifully prepared environments, both indoors and outside” and praised the “highly dedicated and committed” staff and “excellent partnerships with parents”.
Who was Dr Maria Montessori?
Dr Maria Montessori began exploring her educational philosophy in the early years of the Twentieth Century. She opened her first school in Rome in 1906. At the Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House) she pioneered new teaching techniques and educational ideas. In short, these are now recognised as being way ahead of their time.
Through observations of children’s learning patterns, Dr Montessori developed the principles that would underpin the teaching philosophy that bears her name. Each child is an individual who marches to their own pace and learning should be fun.
Dr Montessori continued to develop her method of education until her death in 1952, living and teaching in the USA, Spain, UK, India and Holland, and saw her philosophy adopted around the world. Famous Montessorians include the author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jackie Onassis, Anne Frank and Amazon chairman Jeff Bezos.
What is the Montessori Approach and Philosophy?
We are all different. We learn in different ways, have different periods of focus and concentration (and periods when we find this difficult). Freedom, in Montessori’s eyes, was the most important factor in learning and developing potential. With the right environment, children will naturally learn and do so dynamically.
In a Montessori school, the teaching approach is different. With an emphasis on children’s freedom to learn, teachers are not there to dictate but to guide, to allow a child’s natural curiosity for learning to develop. However, Montessori also made the observation that a child learns a great deal from other children. Fostering a community attitude, Montessori nurseries mix age groups and sexes and encourage them to work together.
Learning and Results
As adults, we work towards an end result, whether that be professional, financial or emotional. However, Montessori observed that children do not work towards a goal. They work for the joy of doing something, motivated by fulfilling their inner need (even if that does mean repeating the same activity over and over again!). Let a child follow their natural impulse, derive enjoyment from the process and they will continue to take pleasure in learning. Goal-driven teaching destroys this pleasure. Placing the emphasis on the process, and not the result, imparts an enthusiasm that will last long beyond childhood.
It’s quite an obvious thing really. Children respond to the world around them. Furthermore, if you surround them with quality, beauty, wonder and warmth, they will respond accordingly. The Montessori Approach places an emphasis on the environment children learn in. Due to this, it allows for curiosity and inspiration to thrive, friendships to bloom and provides individual space to develop the self. Storybook Montessori Nursery Ascot, Snug Nursery Schools’ flagship nursery, has a custom-built environment that is themed to engage children comprising of The Village Green, The Snug for babies and The Outdoor Classroom, The Town Hall, and The Library.
Everything has its own place and that place remains the same. Order in an environment makes children feel safe and secure in their surroundings. In the Montessori classroom, by design, everything is accessible to children. This provides the stability to let children be free to develop.
A purple patch, a lucky streak, riding the wave… As adults we all experience times when anything seems effortlessly achievable. It’s the same with children. There are periods when they are naturally sensitive to learning. Montessori teachers are trained to spot these creative moments and maximise the freedom of expression they bring.
Senses and Absorption
Learning is not just about seeing and hearing. The Montessori Approach exposes all the senses through different mediums and learning materials. Social development is vitally important. However, so is the ability to work alone, develop powers of concentration and self-discipline to draw on throughout a lifetime. Snug Nursery Schools have designed Storybook Montessori Nursery Ascot to stimulate all the senses in the course of a child’s learning through a combination of indoor and outdoor learning spaces.
In conclusion, if you would like more information about the Montessori Approach, here is a list of useful sources: