What is the Montessori approach?
In short, it is an educational theory that provides practical life skills, sensory skills, Language skills, Maths skills, and cultural awareness through play experiences.
The Montessori method of education, founded by Italian physician Maria Montessori in the early 1900's, is widely recognised and implemented around the world, in the field of education. The Montessori method was developed through Maria's observations of children, and the individual needs of each child as a primary focus.
Maria's conclusion from her observations found:
In order to aid the development of a child into a confident and contributing adult in society, adults should help each child achieve his or her potential with a goal of providing a love of learning through self development.
How can parents/carers teach self development ?
The most important principle from the Montessori philosophy is 'Help me do it by myself'.
Time spent helping your child to do something independently will improve your child's initiative, self confidence, concentration and co-ordination. Teaching independence in your child's early years will also save time for you in the long run, and make a happier family.
Maria divided the ages and stages of child development into what she terms 'Planes'
1st Plane 0-6 years
2nd Plane 6-12 years
3rd plane 12-18 years
4th plane 18 - 24 years
The first plane of development is the most challenging for both children and parents. It is in no doubt rewarding but equally exhausting! The rate of development and change in your child at this stage is rapid!
Monty's Stay and Play is an Educational Social Group for young children between the ages of 0-5 years, the ‘first plane’ of the Montessori theory. The play experiences at Monty's are based on Maria's theory of learning through purposeful play, to develop practical life skills and independence in a fun creative environment.
What you and your child will do at Monty's Stay and Play?
Tracy, the group leader, will provide you and your child/children a warm welcome and facilitate introductions to other members of the group. You will also receive a tour of the premises on your first visit, with more information regarding the Montessori principles, registration form and terms and conditions of the group.
At Monty's the prepared group environment incorporates child sized furniture. calming decor, easily accessible toys/activities to actively explore and promote self development skills. For example in movement, communication, social skills, imagination, role play, focused attention and problem solving.
The group is set up in a way that your child can explore freely and independently around the work stations. The resources are displayed on low level shelves or in trays to be selected, based on what interests them and taken to a work area or mat.
Parents in the group are simply asked to follow their child, giving freedom of movement (as long as not in danger or endangering others) and encourage independence and decision making. Activities are prepared by the group leader and supplied with instructions.
It is advised that you read the instructions and explain and demonstrate how to carry out the activity to your child. Please do not do the activity for your child, or provide them with help if it has not been asked for. Your child may express that they "cant do it", your role is to encourage and explain in order to provide help.
Doing the activity for your child is not helping to build their skills. Your child will learn, in their time, to master a skill through observing or communicating with others in the group. The independent completion of an activity provides children with confidence to try and master more new skills.
Your child may spend lots of time and concentration at one activity or flit between lots of different activities, dedicating little time and concentration to each one. This is completely fine and natural, go with it, they are learning and having fun being independent and making their own decisions.
It is important to note,
In the group, your child does not have to share their selected toy/resource with other children, if they do not wish. Sharing is a characteristic that develops with age, just like we cant force a child to walk or talk, we cant force a child to spontaneously share. The willingness to share in a young child, has not been developed as yet. Most young children choose to work on their own, essential for concentration and mastery at this stage. In the first plane, specifically 0-3 years, children are naturally self absorbed and have no awareness of the values of sharing. As children grow, 3-6 years, sharing becomes an extrinsic concept learnt from the environment and observations of others. It is done naturally and lovingly when they reach the age where they are less self absorbed and become aware of others needs and feelings. Sharing at this age can be recommended, but should not be forced. Purposeful activities, independently on mats or at tables, limit possessiveness and arguments over toys. when your child has finished their activity, it is placed back on the shelf for another child to enjoy. Taking turns reduces conflict and provides an organised learning environment. There will always be lots of fun and interesting activities that can be participated in together whilst your little one awaits their turn.
All toys have a purpose and are ideally made of natural materials that can be used in various different learning situations. For example:
Children have a focus when playing, they do not just go and play with the sand, something educational will be in there waiting to be found. Pebbles for counting, how many can you find? Animals to be named or coloured objects to be found and sorted, not just building sandcastles.
There are lots of water activities children love to do, wash our babies, wash baby clothes and peg them out to dry, wash the muddy farm animals. Activities where your child can learn how to pour and measure, making coloured water and bubbles.
Role Play Area
The role play area provides opportunities for children to explore and express their ideas by role playing every day situations from home. Imagine being a mum, dad, brother etc. Dress up clothes allow children to learn personal skills such as getting dressed themselves, dressing babies, learning buttons, zips, laces and toggles etc.
Construction toys provide opportunities for children to learn skills such as tipping/scooping light and heavy materials, mark making, moving materials, building blocks, counting materials onto diggers, transporting objects with diggers and vehicle number match activities.
Remember to dress for mess…
Sand play, water play, play dough, painting, gluing, mixing, pouring, splashing, spraying, sorting, mark making, bubbles and much more…is part of learning the Montessori way!