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Montessori Preschool - At Home or in School

Image ©Westside Montessori School, Vancouver

Why Choose a Montessori Preschool?

 

Research shows that enrolling your child at a Montessori preschool, or utilising the principles of the Montessori method at home, could help to improve your child’s IQ and facilitate their growth in maturity. In 2015, Ahmadpour, N. and Mujembari, K. found that 5-year-old children who had been taught using the Montessori Method had IQs that were ‘substantially higher than that of the children educated based on the traditional approach’(1). The study suggests that the Montessori education had affected the children's IQ and social maturity growth level.

 

Maria Montessori argued that ‘if education truly could develop ethically and socially conscious men and women, whose moral sense had been developed as fully as their ability to read and write, mankind could begin hoping for a more peaceful world’(3). This inspires hope for future generations, where our young children can grow to become practical, observant, logical, thoughtful and intelligent adults who will create a brighter future for us all.

 

Finding a Montessori Preschool or Nursery

 

The Montessori method of education is becoming increasingly popular throughout the UK and, indeed, the globe; according to the American Montessori Society, there are more than 22,000 Montessori schools in at least 110 countries (amshq.org, 2020), 700 of which are in the UK.  Here we will look at the benefits of enrolling your child in a Montessori preschool, nursery or school, as well as how to find and choose one that’s right for you, and what to do if you can’t!

 

Why Montessori Preschool or Nursery?

 

Montessori schools are typically preschools or nurseries, however there are a handful that cater to later years of development. They differ from mainstream public schools in that, rather than following a clear curriculum plan and timetable, they set up a variety of activities for children to engage with for as much time as they want, encouraging them to follow their instincts and have freedom to move around the classroom. Montessori classrooms also utilise classes based on mixed age-ranges. This all may sound potentially chaotic; however, a Montessori nursery will place emphasis on structure and order, encouraging children to take responsibility for the resources and equipment they have used and put it away before moving onto another task. Montessori principles postulate that children have an innate ability to learn and will reach their full potential when supported by an appropriate environment and educator that will facilitate their natural tendencies to learn and experiment with the world around them.

 

Observation in Montessori Nursery – Child-led Learning

 

A Montessori teacher will observe their students in great detail, looking out for key sensitive periods where children become particularly attuned to learning certain new skills, such as reading or writing. This encourages children to learn at their own pace and takes advantage of periods where they are particularly receptive, accelerating learning in ways that are appropriate, stimulating and inspiring for them, whilst not being too overwhelming.

 

Discipline in a Montessori Preschool

 

In terms of discipline, Montessori preschools advocate that this is something that should come from within and not be forced upon children. Montessori teachers will not use rewards and punishments, but instead will facilitate the development of social and emotional skills, encouraging them to develop their own sense of right and wrong. Do not fear, though, teachers will intervene if a child becomes disruptive or upsets others.

 

Do Montessori Preschools Look Different?

 

My Montessori School, Sydney

In terms of the physical educational setting, a Montessori classroom will have furniture and equipment that is suitably sized for tiny humans. This may seem like a small part; however, it is remarkable how much difference appropriately sized equipment can make. Imagine trying to bake with whisks and spoons that are more than half the length of your body – you’d find it much more challenging than with equipment that was the right size for your hands!

 

This means that children can utilise resources and move around the classroom more easily. Furthermore, resources, books and equipment will be placed on shelving that is at their height and at angles in which a child can see what is available. This means they will always be able to access these items independently, further encouraging independent learning.

 

The teacher will place particular resources that they feel their students will enjoy/benefit from and will observe them completing them, which may be done individually or with peers. They will also ensure the classroom environment remains calm, peaceful and conducive to the spontaneous learning that will be taking place.

 

Where can I find a Montessori Preschool in the UK?

 

For some parents, this brief outline of a Montessori nursery could sound almost too good to be true! After discovering this inspiring educational method, the next step is to look for a Montessori school or nursery in your area. This is easier said than done, because right now, there still aren’t that many Montessori nurseries in the UK. The the Montessori Society AMI (UK) (2) offers a list of Montessori schools based in various districts within the UK, can be found here:

https://www.montessorisociety.org.uk/page-18115.

 

When I was looking to place Benedykt and Sylvester into some kind of day care provision for a few hours a week, I only had a choice of three Montessori nurseries within 50 miles. I now travel 16 miles to my chosen Montessori setting for the children. Understandably this distance isn’t practical for many families.

 

Can’t find a Montessori School? No problem!

 

If you are struggling to find a Montessori nursery or preschool local to you, do not worry! There are plenty of ideas and resources that you can utilise to bring alive the principles of the Montessori method in your own home.

 

The Montessori method focuses on practical, hands-on learning that serves a purpose. Young children are developing both mentally and physically at an incredible rate, and so placing resources and activities in accessible areas for your children may pique their curiosity and allow them to try new activities in a spontaneous manner that suits their developmental stage. Our wooden Montessori learning tiles come in a range of more than 15 topics which will help you create your own Montessori learning environment.

 

Montessori Learning Materials for Preschool or Homeschool

 

Before you set out trying to turn your home into a school, Montessori first and foremost recommended that education starts in a much simpler place: practical life. Incorporating your child into everyday activities such as laundry, shopping and cooking will offer many attributes of a Montessori classroom such as self-discipline and a sense of order. These are all the real Montessori activities you need.

 

A great place to start is our personalised placemats; made from sustainable and eco-friendly acacia wood, they encourage your little ones to get involved in the practical task of laying the table ready for dinner and provoke curiosity into what goes on in the kitchen, opening the door to practical culinary skills. The personalised placemat offers another perfect Montessori activity, giving a great sense of order to your toddler.

 

Our baking set is appropriately sized for tiny hands, helping young minds and bodies to be involved in the cooking process with you, where you can see their joy at discovering how the right ingredients and cooking utensils can result in a delicious meal that they prepared themselves. You can see some videos of Sylvester using his baking set and exercising his cooking skills in this blog.

 

Early Years Foundation Stage

 

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) (4) provides the standards, commitments and principles underpinning the learning, development and care of children aged 0 to 5 years old attending early years settings in England (5). Most Montessori preschools within the UK also adhere to the standards of the EYFS curriculum, so you get the best of both worlds, as you know your child will be following along with the national curriculum for their age, as well as being catered for individually in a more child-led focus.

 

 

References

 

(1) Ahmadpour, N. and Mujembari, K. (2015) ‘The Impact of Montessori Teaching Method on IQ Levels of

5-Year Old Children.’ Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 205, pp 122-127.

 

(2) American Montessori Society - Amshq.org (2020) History of Montessori Education. [online] Available

at: [Accessed 31st December 2020].

 

(3) Duckworth, C. (2006) Teaching peace: A dialogue on the Montessori method. Journal of Peace

Education, vol. 3, pp 39-53.

 

 

(4) https://www.gov.uk/early-years-foundation-stage

 

(5) https://www.rgsw.org.uk/worcestershire-nurseries/early-years-foundation-stage/