THE MONTESSORI METHOD
The Montessori Method of education which is our curriculum, was founded by Dr. Maria Montessori who also founded the Association Montessori Internationale , (AMI, in 1929, within whose constitution she enshrined both her philosophy of education and standards of pedagogy, that were to ensure her legacy - the method, in posterity.
She believed that the goal of early childhood education should not be to fill the child with facts from a pre-selected course of studies but rather, to cultivate his/her own natural desire to learn and absorb. A Montessori classroom is a specially designed “prepared environment” in which this concept is apparent and, by intent, encompasses the mental, physical, social and aesthetic development of a child in a space that is void of irrelevance and inflexibility. To achieve the benefit of a Montessori education at any one of our schools, a child should spend three academic years with us. A child who has spent this amount of time in our environment must ideally, seek admission to Grade 1 in a Primary (Grade) school.
During the hours a child spends in a Montessori classroom, the adult's direction (teaching) and the materials used, are focused on 5 essential areas, some of which are exclusive to the Montessori Method of education.
When a child is enrolled in a Montessori school, we hope to place him/her in a class of children between the ages of 2 1/2 – 6 years of age and keep that child in the same class until it is time for the child to move to a primary school. (It is envisaged that the average child, by this time, will be ready for primary/grade school.) In this manner, the child will enjoy a conducive learning environment, which is void of stress and affords every opportunity for the child to become self-motivated, be creative and to nurture self-respect.
We believe that a class of mixed ages is advantageous to both younger and older children as the younger children learn by observing the older children and the older children reinforce what they have already mastered when helping the younger children.
The Montessori curriculum is very broad based and covers traditional and uniquely Montessori subjects as given below. We intend to present subject matter from all given topics as explained:
1. The Exercises of Practical Life
2. Sensorial Materials
5. Cultural Studies
7. Development of social behaviour and physical activity
Each of the above areas will be presented in simple format, even to the youngest child, and presentations will grow in complexity as the child matures in the environment.
The Montessori curriculum is non-graded and non-competitive, thus allowing the children to work and grow in an environment that permits their individual potential to reach its own level and at its own pace, without any negative or judgmental pressure.
However, it is the trained adult's (Directress') responsibility to be aware if what is required of the child, when he/she enters primary school, at the end of the Montessori education period of 3 years and guide that child towards the desired goals or benchmarks. As our philosophy encourages children to learn void of stress, these goals are usually easily achieved. The emphasis we place is that the child must be in a Montessori programme for at least 3 years to ensure this achievement. Thereafter, the transition to primary school is normal and well accepted by the child.
The teachers in the school will be qualified AMI (ASSOCIATION MONTESSORI INTERNATIONALE) Directresses, who are trained to observe the children and present them with activities according to their individual needs.
The Directress acts as a go-between the child and the materials in the environment. The student-teacher ratio would be 1 adult to 22 - 25 children or pro-rated, depending on the size of the classrooms and subject to licensing criteria in the schools we operate.
The presentation of an activity in the Montessori environment takes the place of a lesson in an ordinary school. There are two types of presentations:
Intentional presentations – that are made only after observation and according to the needs of the child. The trained adult is always prepared for this.
Unintentional presentations – this is something that an adult does spontaneously. Every act that is committed by an adult in the class is being observed and may be repeated by the children, e.g. how a teacher talks, sits, etc.
INTRODUCING A NEW CHILD TO THE MONTESSORI ENVIRONMENT
When introducing a new child to the Montessori environment, we encourage parents and their children who are incoming students to visit the school a few times prior to commencement of the child's term. We also arrange for new children to visit in groups of 2 – 5 and stay in the school for a short while with an aim of helping them to familiarise themselves with the classroom and teachers. We find that such procedures make it less traumatic for the children to part with their parents. At the beginning of the child's term, we advise parents or other accompanying adults, to leave the children at the gate rather than walk them into the school as, in our experience; this eases the parting from the adult. Thereafter, the child accepts the parting and does not find the parting, a problem.
At the beginning, we do not try to present any Montessori materials to the new children as they may be unsettled and not receptive to such materials. In these circumstances, it is advisable to gather the new children in a small group and offer them, what we call, “ the preliminary activities”. These activities are not necessarily a method of development but are offered with the intention of helping the new children settle down.
The essence of all subject matters and methods explained here constitute that the Montessori Method of education develops the child at his/her own pace. The child becomes aware of the environment and learns in an absorbent manner. The classroom does not have a specific time table, although, self-motivation of the children and unobtrusive direction by the adults ensure that the children receive a well-rounded and comprehensive education fully preparing them for entry to primary school. This has been well proven.
A detailed curriculum is available to parents of children currently enrolled with us, within their web reports.