THE MONTESSORI METHOD
The Montessori Method is at the heart of what we do at Montessori House Brussels.
The Montessori Method takes account of the needs, talents, gifts and individuality of every child. The children learn at their own pace, in an atmosphere where their work is valued which makes learning fun, thus reaching a level of development that provides the necessary skills to have a great start in elementary.
If provided with the right kinds of activities at the right time of development in an atmosphere of respect and freedom, the child will absorb knowledge effortlessly.
There are 4 central ideas to the Montessori method which we apply at Montessori House Brussels:
- It is a method based on the universal characteristics of the child, which are that children have an inborn motivation to learn, they have an absorbent mind and they learn through sensitive periods.
- The classroom is a prepared environment, where there is freedom, structure, order, simplicity, aesthetic awareness and, above all, there is harmony.
- The guiding teacher has a professional training and deep respect for the child. When rules are needed to offer freedom, these rules are introduced and followed up with care and patience.
- To master the Montessori curriculum with its wide range of developmental areas, the child needs a period of 3 years to accomplish this to her or his best abilities.
BETWEEN BIRTH AND THE AGE OF SIX
The time between birth and the age of six is the most important phase in the child’s life, as everything that occurs has a profound effect on their future development.
Children at this age absorb the world around them. This is the period in which the child’s personality and character is formed. The adult needs to give the child every opportunity to free their potential and allow them to educate themselves.
From birth to the age of two, a child follows their own plan of development e.g. crawling, standing and walking. They recognise the parent, understand what is said, and then repeat sounds and later words in a subconscious manner.
At the age of 2 ½ your child can join our school, where the prepared environment will allow further development in an atmosphere of freedom. From the age of 3 onwards, your child will become more and more curious and enthusiastic about their environment in a conscious manner.
During sensitive periods, which are transient stages in a child’s early life when they are “tuned in” to certain aspects of the environment, your child will learn and grow through activities rather than from intellectual understanding. When your child walks around between the different areas, they will fulfill their need for movement. Interaction between peers is inevitable, giving an opportunity to build on social skills and good manners.
Daily life exercises, sensory experiences, language development, numbers, interest in detail, order and sequence, co-ordination and muscle development are all characteristics of early childhood sensitive periods. Through observation the teacher gathers information about the child’s inner needs and offers exercises that correspond to that period.
THE MONTESSORI ENVIRONMENT
Montessori schools teach independence from an early age. The children take an active part in running their school, engaging in tasks such as preparing and serving food and drinks, putting equipment away after they have used it and taking care of their class environment. They can learn practical skills on a daily basis such as making sandwiches, tying shoelaces and sweeping and polishing. Children are not expected to conform to set standards of achievement.
In a Montessori environment, children are encouraged to respect and help each other. If they choose, they will work with other children, help each other, or ‘teach’ each other, which they enjoy. It is wonderful to watch children who really want to be responsible members of a small community.
The equipment available for learning is unique and designed by Maria Montessori. It is exceptionally good quality equipment, which means the children value it and treat it with care.
A Montessori school is peaceful and facilitates learning. Since children are happy and are learning at their own pace, they like to maintain order in the class and respect the rules with pleasure.
ABOUT MARIA MONTESSORI
Montessori House Brussels follows the method of education founded by Dr Maria Montessori.
Dr. Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870 and was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome medical school. She became highly involved in children’s education after being asked to work with children from impoverished backgrounds in Rome.
In 1901, she worked in a centre for children, who were not being taught because of their social background. She transformed their environment into one providing love, care and rich experiences. The children soon began to pass exams, something they were previously thought incapable of.
In 1907 she organised day-care for young children in one of Rome’s poorest areas. The children took care of their own environment and were given real life challenges. This was the first Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House, which laid the foundation for The Montessori Method worldwide.
Maria Montessori’s personal observations, in which philosophy and pedagogy are intertwined, form the basis of her ideas on education. They encourage the children to develop their creativity, problem solving skills, critical thinking and time-management. The children can therefore contribute to society and the environment, and become fulfilled persons in their particular time and place on earth.
This holistic approach is the basis of the Montessori practice: children find their inner motivation for learning while their individual choice of research and work is respected.
When Dr. Maria Montessori passed away in 1952 she left behind a method of education to which there is no parallel and which has stood the test of time.