The Montessori Education method was created and refined by Maria Montessori, one of Italy’s first female medical doctors at the turn of the 20th Century.
The method is based on observation of young children by Montessori, who came to understand the child’s naturally absorbent mind. It is this unique capacity to absorb information which allows the child to naturally incorporate experiences in the environment directly into its whole basic character and personality for life.
This mental faculty, which is innate in the young children, allows them to learn many concepts in an effortless, spontaneous and joyful manner. During this time,children are particularly receptive to certain external stimuli.
A Montessori teacher recognises and takes advantage of these highly perceptive stages through the introduction of materials and activities which are specially designed to stimulate the intellect.
There are four pillars the Montessori Method of Education, they are the unique characteristics that can be seen and felt in any quality Montessori setting.
Pillar 1: Environment
The prepared environment an essential part of Montessori educational philosophy. Furniture and materials are child sized with activities set up for success and allow freedom of movement and choice. The environment in Hedley Park is a warm, inviting setting for the children to explore freely. The environment has to be ready and beautiful for the children so it invites them to learn.
The founding principle of Montessori education is a profound respect for the child and the environment in which they learn. When a child enters an environment that has been prepared especially for them they can sense the respect their teacher has for them, they know they belong, this gives them the opportunity and inspiration to discover the world around them and blossom into the best version of themselves.
A place for everything and everything in its place, the order found in the Montessori environment allows the child to find want they need giving them independence and security. Returning things to their place becomes natural to the child in the Montessori classroom and imparts a sense of responsibility in the child.
Pillar 2: Materials
Everything in a Montessori classroom has a specific use or purpose. There is nothing in the prepared environment that the child cannot see or touch. All of the carefully prepared materials are deliberately selected by the Montessori teacher to assist the child in taking their learning to the next level and are within easy reach ready for the eager mind of the child. The materials are aids to the child to absorb, explore, refine their senses, motor skills and hone their concentration in a concrete way.
A foundation in concrete learning allows for greater abstraction as the child progresses through the curriculum. Working with a piece of Montessori materials encourages the child to focus attention on one particular quality, topic or sense.
Children work at their own optimum level – in an environment where beauty and orderliness are emphasised and appreciated.
A spontaneous love of learning is revealed as the children are given the freedom (within boundaries) to make their own choices regarding the materials they use, leading them to be confident and focused learners with a keen sense of community and responsibility.
Pillar 3: Community
A quality Montessori classroom has a busy, productive atmosphere where joy and respect abound. Within such an enriched environment, freedom, responsibility, and social and intellectual development spontaneously flourish.
The mixed age classroom is one of the most important features of a Montessori classroom. This approach allows each classroom to be a “mini society”, where children can work together without being segregated into divisions. In this “society” the older children model the proper code of conduct and the younger children learn by example. In just the same manner, the work of the older children inspires the younger children to greater achievement.
Qualities of leadership and collaboration, teamwork and problem solving are developed in a natural and empowering way. In Hedley Park we are interested not only with what the children learn, but also with the person they become, and how they will function outside of the classroom, which is why our curriculum is just as much about social and emotional growth as academic achievement.
Pillar 4: Teacher
Our team of Montessori teachers are expertly trained facilitators in the classroom, always ready to assist the child and direct their learning based on observations of the child. Their purpose is to stimulate the child’s enthusiasm for learning and to guide it, without interfering with the child’s natural desire to teach themselves and become independent. Each child works through their individual cycle of activities, and learns to truly understand according to their own unique needs and capabilities.
It is the teacher’s aim to be the link with the child’s need and the learning materials abundant in the environment. Creating lessons and learning opportunities to interest and inspire the child. Leading by example, our Montessori teachers are role models for consideration, respect, humour and love of the children in the school community.