All About Montessori
Leavesden Montessori House caters for the total development of each individual child. The spacious hall houses the full range of Montessori equipment within which there are specific areas within the environment to help the child with his/her development.
These are the Practical life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, Cultural, Science, Botany, Music and Art areas. Each child will be guided along the activities by the trained teachers. All the equipment is child sized and materials are placed on shelves that are easy to reach for the children.
Social development is important in the children's house and there is an emphasis on mixed age grouping within the setting.
Individual learning is promoted within the school environment and the school recognizes that each child learns at a different pace and promotes this.
There is an emphasis on concrete learning where children experience concepts in concrete ‘hands on’ ways. The children are allowed the freedom to choose their activities and for the joy of working with these, which in turn lets them enjoy a sense of discovery. The children absorb information at an incredible rate and enjoy learning new tasks. The school encourages every child to follow their interests.
Our AMI Directress' explain the two Environments and how the Montessori materials support the children:
Practical life activities are the pivot of all our Montessori Work. Within the Montessori environment there is a special area which allows for the children to find activities that support the development of co-ordination and concentration. The children working with these real life activities are magically drawn to them. They love polishing, cleaning and sweeping. Many of the activities they have observed in their everyday lives are available in our Montessori environment. Our Montessori children enjoy washing dishes or sometimes doing some beautiful flower arranging for the classroom. They love repeating their activities, and through this they refine their movements. There is an underlying sense of self belief, especially as they complete their activities and eventually ‘I did it’ all by myself is heard. Sometimes we witness dances of joy, and this unmeasurable joy, which cannot be measured in innate within our children.
If you can picture a scenario in our classroom, when a child picks the button frame, and for many days is drawn to the challenge of undoing and doing the buttons, there is repetition, there is a struggle, and then one fine day the child has succeeded at the first attempt. There is an inner satisfaction, sometimes we witness a smile, sometimes we see a skip, the reward for all the work has come from within. As Montessori educators this is the joy we wait to see. We wait to see the concentration developing, the independence coming, and as educators we have protected the work our child has been doing. We make sure that the child is not disturbed and allowed to work. This form of education is so different from other preschools. Montessori environments are educational environments and allows for the child centred learning.
We observe our children becoming independent, cutting fruits for themselves and their friends, serving drinks, making tea, putting on their own shoes, undoing the buttons amongst the other countless activities that they do.
Grace and Courtesy
These group activities are on-going and presented to the child around the same time as the practical life activities. The child will be shown for example how to handle objects such as scissors or how to hold a chair. Simple social graces such as greetings or saying excuse me when passing in front of someone, are all part of these very important lessons.
"Maria Montessori believed that there was a relationship between the human intelligence and the senses and that these two worked together and greatly influenced the way human beings think and a dominant factor in the child’s development."
(p.159 - 160 Maria Montessori, Her life and work, EM Standing)
The Montessori environment has sensorial materials for each of the senses. Senses help human beings to get information and are constantly collecting this helps them to distinguish, categorise and relate each particular property. Sensorial material in the children’s house caters for the natural development of the child and provides material for each of the senses: the tactile sense- touch; the visual – sight; smell – olfactory; hearing – auditory; and the taste – gustatory. These activities also prepare the child for further language and mathematical activities.
Language is the pivot of all the work/ activities that happen in an AMI Montessori environment. Language enrichment, acquisition, experiences and thoughts are surrounding all of the other areas.
Oral language in the classroom is fundamental to our daily activities. Conversation is very important, and allows the children to explore and listen to interesting and varied language, learn the proper names for things around the classroom and help with social interaction. The importance of supporting oral language for the children is very important in a Montessori environment. It allows the children opportunities to listen and vice versa of being listened to. Oral language supports and allows for opportunities for the children to communicate and express, classify impressions and use vocabulary based on these experiences. This in turn allows for the children to build confidence and support listening skills.
In the Montessori Casa – Children’s House, the children have many, many opportunities for exploring Oral language. There are news groups, classified pictures, songs and stories. The children love poetry and the use of Oral language is supported when the children are presented language when they work with the Montessori activities for example when using the jugs for pouring, we would use specific vocabulary for the parts of the jug or when working with the Sensorial materials which includes the attributes of the properties of these specially designed scientifically designed activities.
Besides all of the wonderful Oral language that happens, the Montessori Language curriculum includes so much more to support the Early Development of Language. All Montessori environments have many activities that support Language development from an early age.
Sand Paper Letters:
In an AMI Montessori Environment, there are sand paper letters - allowing the children to learn the letters in a very multisensorial way. I-spy games are played which also allow the children to recognise the sounds in words.
The Movable Alphabet:
This activity is introduced to the children once they know all their Sand Paper Letters. The children in a Montessori Environment will use their knowledge of the letters and the sounds they make to write words, sentences and eventually stories using the special movable alphabet.
Within our rich resourced Montessori Environment there will be extensive exercises to support Reading, Writing, the Function of words, Word Study and Reading Analysis. These presentations are delivered by trained Directors/Directresses who have undergone the AMI Montessori Training.
Maria Montessori said that there is math in all of us ‘Man has a mathematical Mind’ and every human being has this power to be able to make judgements and calculate. In a Montessori environment if a child is working with the Practical Life activity of pouring – the little one will calculate how high to hold the jug, what angle to tilt the jug, how quickly or slowly to pour the beans, when to stop…Every movement the child is doing, he/she is calculating. This is innate within the child.
A Montessori environment allows for this. All the activities prior to work with the Montessori Mathematical activities, prepare the children. The work with the sensorial materials, allowing for comparisons and establishing relationships. There is order, sequence and classifications. All this supports+ the development of Maths.
There are Five main Groups in our Montessori Curriculum. They allow development to go on until the age of seven.
Group One: The children will work with numbers from 1-10 and understand the conservation of number and realise that the number of objects remain the same every when rearranged. They learn about the concept of zero, and realistically numbers from 0-9 would be the only numbers they really need to understand.
Group Two: Is the introduction to the decimal system. The children learn about units, tens, hundreds and thousands.
Group Three: This group is all about linear and skip counting, allowing the child to count continuously.
Group Four: The activities within this group allows for the memorisation of essential number combinations.
Group Five: This is the passage to abstraction. These exercises help the children understand Mathematical Concepts in the abstract.
Fractions – Exploring fractions in a Sensorial Way.
More Information About Montessori
To learn more about Montessori education, please visit:
No Check mate – Montessori Chess Lessons for Age 3 to 90+ written by Susan Mayclin Stephenson
The Age of Miracles – Maria Montessori
Absorbent Mind – Maria Montessori
Education and Peace – Maria Montessori
Read and write – Lynne Laurence
The discovery of the child – Maria Montessori
Understanding the Human Being – Silvana Montanoro M.D.
Montessori from the Start – Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen
Montessori learning in the 21st Century – M. Shannon Helfrich