This Term (Autumn 2018)
Montessori in a Nutshell...
When I came across the Montessori Method it fitted so well with my values and beliefs. I was already following many of the principles and I naturally wanted to know more. After reading several books, I began introducing Montessori concepts and activities into our home and incorporating more ideas into my work during my childminding training. I now welcome children into our fully functioning Montessori environment.
One of the principles I love most is the concept of teaching even the youngest children independence. It is amazing what children can do if I take the time and patience to teach them. From pegging our hats and gloves up when we come in from a walk, to laying the table from child height cupboards, each small everyday task provides life-skill learning opportunities, easily missed through hurrying.
Here, Many everyday items are child-sized and accessible which means children can get involved without feeling frustrated. Our space is safe, allowing children the freedom to roam and explore.
From treasure baskets to musical instruments, supporting every sense is key to learning and development. Music is a part of our daily life here. As a classically trained vocalist with Alevel equivalents in music theory, I often get the guitar out or help the children play simple tunes on our child-sized two octave piano.
Children are very open to learning particular skills at certain stages of development. They can become obsessed with certain activities, and to recognise and support these can be immensely rewarding.
Toys that support learning and development have been chosen over toys which simply encourage children to be passive observers. They are chosen for their quality, robustness, beauty and form. Mostly wooden, they are stored not in a toy box, but in their sets, in their places on the toy shelves in our main room. Children love order and consistency and find it familiar and comforting to return the toys when they have finished playing, and to find them in their usual spot when they look for them. We have four times the number of toys out on the shelves, and they are rotated fortnightly so there is always something new to look at. In addition, we visit the toy library weekly. From sensory play with dry lentils or rice for babies and preschoolers, to supporting phonics when the are ready, activities are carefully planned for age and stage and carried out with thought, interest, care and freedom to follow interests.
Work is important to young children. They love to mimic our jobs and love everyday activities. Helping round the house is an activity in itself.
Our children are natural scientists, they love to explore, to question and wonder. The outdoors provides and beautiful free space full of interest and beauty. We use the outdoors as much as possible, from Forest School activities, gardening, free play on the green to woodland walks. Even in winter we get outside everyday, rain or shine.
Good courteous behaviour is encouraged through respect and is led by example. I take a positive approach to discipline, using distraction and diversion, praise and encouragement and above all to teach rather than punish, after all, children love to please the ones they love and respect.