Montessori nurseries are a popular option with parents for pre-school early education. Here we look at the characteristics of Montessori nurseries and their unique view of teaching children.
Montessori nurseries are named after their founder, Dr Maria Montessori, and Italian woman who developed the child education method we now know as Montessori. Through her work and study of children, Dr Montessori developed a unique form of teaching method based on various principles and it’s these principles that are still very much alive in nurseries and Montessori schools today.
Children Are Individuals
Through her work and research with children, Dr Montessori believed that children are individuals and are affected by the social environment and the world around them. She worked on the basis that every child has creative potential, but should be treated as an individual.
Nurturing Natural Potential
Dr Montessori believed that children’s natural potential should be nurtured, to help them learn and develop, and that a healthy environment at nurseries, school and home environments can help this natural potential to emerge.
Children Need Freedom
Another principle of Dr Montessori’s beliefs was that children need to be given more freedom to learn. She believed that children shouldn’t be pushed to complete activities in certain set times and that should do it in their own time. However, this doesn’t mean complete freedom with no rules, but rather within appropriate guidelines and as part of a social group. She also believed that children should have a choice about what activities they try and that should try and learn to be self-sufficient.
Mixed Age Groups
Although some forms of early education tend to split children into different groups according to their age, under the Montessori approach, there is the belief that it’s good to have mixed age groups. Rather than hindering a child’s progress, it’s believed that it will help all of the children to develop on a social and intellectual basis, at their pace which is best for them.
The Importance Of Equipment
It was Dr Montessori’s belief that all children should be taught with care and kindness and that they should be able to have access to good quality equipment to support their learning. That doesn’t necessarily mean the biggest and flashiest equipment, but instead equipment and materials that help children develop key cognitive skills and help them explore the world around them.
Life In Montessori Nurseries
All of these principles, which are based on educational research, are applied in Montessori nurseries across the UK today. Nurseries are typically highly supportive, with children learning and working together, and support children with a variety of needs. The types of activities enjoyed by children are very similar to that of other nurseries, but the time at nursery may be split up differently, with more time available to concentrate on activities. Children are likely to be learning and playing in small groups, or with their nursery teacher, but there’s also plenty of time to learn and play on their own.
In addition to nurseries, there are also schools that carry on the teaching principles. In fact, despite operating to a slightly different approach than other schools, children from Montessori schools often thrive on the approach and have a very high standard of academic achievement.