The Comet newspaper has published an article by our Head of School, Sarah Cummins, titled “Working to dispel myths that surround the Montessori method”.
“Since opening the doors to Garden City Montessori earlier this year, there’s one question I am asked more than any other: ‘What exactly is Montessori?’. Many people have misconceptions about this well-established education system, which provides a wonderful, calm, inviting, beautiful, fun, happy and prepared environment that meets the needs of children and allows them to follow their interests to allow them to reach their fullest potential.
Often considered a modern alternative to mainstream schooling, Montessori is actually more than a century old. And research has shown that Montessori-educated children are, on average, ahead of their peers in various aspects of development. Montessori is not just for nursery children – although most Montessori schools in the UK are nurseries, programmes exist for all ages up to adolescence.
Some think that Montessori classrooms are too structured, others seem to believe that they are not structured enough. The truth is that Montessori is based on the principles of freedom, but that freedom is only possible when certain other concepts come into play. One of these is structure.
Structure in a Montessori environment comes from the way the environment works, rather than just the teacher, and in the way the teacher gives lessons, slowly and clearly, demonstrating activities step by step. Once the children have had the lesson, they have the freedom to choose from a wide variety of activities and discover the possibilities on their own. This creates an environment where the child is free to explore, to interact, to discover and to be active participants in their own learning.
Montessori does not ignore the National Curriculum, as some believe. Children gain all the knowledge outlines in the National Curriculum but Montessori does not stop there – it allows the child to go further, to explore and discover. Montessori also allows each child to develop at his or her own individual pace.
Schools following the authentic Montessori method would never push a child towards something. Our young children begin reading, writing and doing mathematics with concrete materials not because the teacher forces them, but because there are materials within the environment that interest them”.