In last week's episode of Next of Kin Parents Podcast, I spoke to Millie James aka @consciously.montessori . My reason for asking Millie onto the show was absolutely unashamedly because I wanted to learn more about Montessori for myself, to pick up some tips to implement with my own daughter. And I learnt a lot! So if you too are intrigued by Montessori, I asked Millie to answer the below 5 questions to introduce us to this approach.
1. Can you explain the basic principles of Montessori?
The key principle is that it is child-led. Children are given the freedom of choice to explore things in their own time, at their own pace and in a way that’s interesting to them. Adults observe children’s abilities and interests so they can best support the child’s learning, following the child’s interest.
2. How was the Montessori approach developed?
By an Italian Doctor Maria Montessori. She became a doctor in a time when women couldn’t train by convincing a medical college to let her come after hours. She was working in a women and children’s hospital where she realised that the children needed stimulation and autonomy to flourish independently.
3. What is the difference between traditional & Montessori schooling?
Instead of a traditional schedule of subjects, activities for all areas of learning are available and accessible to children throughout the classroom all day. Different children choose different activities depending on what interests them. When a child is doing what they choose, they will be much more engrossed and get more out of it. The teachers will then use their interests to develop them further and teach skills.
4. If they get to do what they choose all day, how do they learn rules?
The classroom is a community where ground rules are followed by both adults and the children. Montessori talked about ‘freedom within boundaries’ - the ground rules are there to keep everyone safe and create a respectful, harmonious environment. The ground rules are reinforced positively through role modelling and explaining ‘why’.
5. What age range is the Montessori approach for?
It is generally used for the 0-6 years age range. Maria Montessori did create a philosophy for 6-18 years but typically worldwide, children move to more structured curriculums from 6 years, so focusing on this sense of confidence, independence and love of learning up to 6 years sets them up well for formal education.
If you would like to learn more, we discuss this and more in episode 14 of Next of Kin Parents Podcast. And Millie is happy to answer any questions you may have - perhaps we need her back for a more in depth episode!