World renowned for the method carrying her name, Maria Montessori was one of the first women to become a doctor at the dawn of the last century. Her behavioral study of young people with “mental deficiencies” in a psychiatric clinic in Rome invites us to measure the necessity to introduce activities and specific materials into therapy in order for the patients to be able to interact with their environment and develop their sensorial intelligence, notably using touch and fine motor skills. Her intuition told her that a child needs to do things by himself; to measure, weigh, compare, and count in order to adopt concepts as his own. She progressively developed a non judgemental learning method based on observing children. Rapidly expanding her research, she created the Casa dei Bambini, a house which welcomed preschool aged children and proved the virtues of the method.
In 1929, she created AMI (Association Montessori Internationale), and progressively exported and promoted her pedagogical principles and philosophy around the world.
Today, Maria Montessiori’s work is an invaluable resource that has been validated by neuroscience. More than 20 000 Montessori schools exist around the world, including 300 in France, where the method is in full bloom.
Respect each child’s own rhythm and potential:
Each child goes through sensitive periods of development,through which his brain is particularly receptive to certain types of learning. No one would force a six month baby to take his first steps or suddenly stop supporting him when he is not ready to walk! However, in the traditional school system, we do not hesitate to decide in our children’s place when they should read, write or locate a city on a map. One Maria Montessori’s key ideas, that we strictly apply in our school, is to respect each child’s “natural laws.” In other words, encourage the child, to guide him, without skipping important steps, never letting his desire die out, or holding him back.
Encourage the child to become autonomous in an adapted environment:
A child is not only a future adult, and neither is she a human submitted to an arbitrary authority who forces her to obey without interacting with the world surrounding her. In an environment designed for her height, specially conceived to insure her security and to permit her to move around freely, the child is able to organise her own time, to take initiative, and to act with discernment. She chooses the activity that interests her, observes, re-produces her teacher’s gesture, and takes pleasure in progressing and overcoming the difficulties in the task that she herself has chosen.
In our school, the child will always be considered as an actor in the world around her. Environmental issues, for example, will not be conjugated using future or conditional tenses. Children’s questions, their reasons for indignation and for hope will find concrete responses through action or engagements in the field. We will constantly take children seriously, and listen to their ideas and observations. By developing self confidence and autonomy, we teach children to adapt to the world of tomorrow.
Having a multi-age level class allows the older children to consolidate what they have learned and transmit what they know to the younger children who are stimulated by their knowledge. It encourages cooperation and caring and removes children from the fear of judgement and competition between students who are all the same age. Everyone evolves at their own rhythm within the group in a healthy and joyous environment.
Engaging the body in learning :
Children help with chores (setting the table, wiping up, mopping, sweeping…), and are encouraged to do tasks on their own (take off their shoes, pour water, garden, button their coats…). In this way they develop their fine motor skills and executive function (memory, self control, cognitive flexibility) which is essential to all forms of learning.
Throughout the day, time for relaxation (yoga, meditation), for rest and for play allow children to recharge themselves so that they can give their full attention to their work.
Encourage a link with nature:
An outdoor space is available to the children equipped with planting boxes where they can observe nature, sow seeds, water, experiment and harvest the fruit of their labor throughout the seasons.
Use suitable material in an ordered class :
Educational material is available to children on shelves at their height. Everything is ordered according to a precise logic, by family of activities and according to a well-defined progression.
PRACTICAL LIFE, MATHEMATHICS, LANGUAGE, SENSORY, CULTURE for the areas of the class 3-6 years. MATHEMATICS, LANGUAGE, SCIENTIFIC CULTURE (earth sciences and life / physics and chemistry), HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, VISUAL ARTS and COMPUTING for 6-12 year olds.