A guide to the Montessori teaching style
The Montessori learning style is vastly different to traditional teaching, but it’s not always something that nurseries focus on during their lessons. Not only does it help focus on key development stages, it encourages cooperative play and inspires creativity.
In this article, we explore what the Montessori learning style is, how it can be applied to classrooms, and examples of activities that help children develop naturally.
What is the Montessori method?
Named after Dr Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator, the Montessori teaching style has been used for over 100 years, in countries all around the world.
In this teaching style, the children are keen to learn new topics, techniques and subjects, and it is the teacher’s job to prepare the learning environment to help them achieve this.
Where did the Montessori method come from?
When she started developing the Montessori learning style, Maria broke down the learning process into different stages, which she then associated with the different age ranges of the pupils.
To help her research, she watched the children and adolescents in different learning environments, and adjusted her findings accordingly. According to accounts, the pupils were unruly at first, but soon developed a keen interest in working with puzzles, preparing meals and caring for the classroom around them.
Examples of Montessori learning activities
The Moveable alphabet
One example of a Montessori learning activity would be a moveable alphabet. Children are given the opportunity to rearrange the letters to form words and smaller sentences. Not only does this encourage them to learn about how the alphabet works, but it also helps them associate letters and colours.
If your pupils are interested in learning more about outdoor learning, then consider bringing in a nature basket, or setting up a nature table that’s filled with items that you have collected over time. To increase their engagement, consider putting some items in a covered box, and then encourage the children to try and identify what the items are, without looking.
A Montessori music box
With so many musical instruments available for children, a music box is always going to be popular with children. It helps them work together, increase their creativity and understand how different instruments work.
To help improve coordination skills, why not consider adding a dressing-up area to the Montessori classroom. Maria Montessori created dressing frames, some of which are still used today.
These areas help the children learn how to button and unbutton, tie and untie laces and fasten and unfasten buckles.
How can it be applied to lessons?
Designing the classroom
If you are on a long-term placement, then consider introducing a Montessori layout within the classroom. For example, having one area with sensory learning tools and others that relate to specific subjects.
When planning the learning activities, it’s important to give the pupils the chance to learn and succeed by themselves, without intervening before they are finished. This helps them develop their problem-solving skills, and increases their self-esteem once they finish the task.
When completing homework
Instead of taking the traditional approach to homework, it would be worth considering whether the Montessori approach can apply to their extra studies. For example, instead of just giving the children a sheet to fill in, ask them to find the answer to a simple maths problem using pasta shells or stones.
This sensory and repetitive approach helps reinforce the lessons, and makes them feel more involved with their learning.
What age range does Montessori apply to?
The Montessori style can be applied to most age ranges, since the classrooms are made up of children at the same developmental stage, rather than age range. For example, one class may be made up of children aged between three and six, whilst another may be for children between 12 and 15.
What’s different about this teaching style?
There are several key differences between Montessori and traditional teaching techniques, including, but not limited to:
- Active vs passive. Montessori lessons are hands-on and filled with activity, and students are given the freedom to discover new information for themselves.
- The pre-prepared environment. A Montessori classroom is prepared in advance. The set-up is determined based on observations of individual pupil needs, and includes student-centred lessons and activities.
- Set at their own pace. In a Montessori lesson, the child’s work pace is set by them, and honoured throughout the day. They aren’t rushed, and each work at their own pace.
- Encouraging a love of learning. The Montessori curriculum was created so that it appeals to a child’s natural hunger for knowledge, and gives them the flexibility to explore topics they enjoy, or are curious about.
To find out more about how to introduce new teaching styles, lesson plans and helping students with their development take a look at the articles listed below:
- Five tips for helping introverted students
- Prepare ahead of time: activities to fill free time during lessons
- What you need to prepare for your first nursery placement
In summary, the Montessori learning style is an exceptional way of helping children learn new skills, understand the environment around them and develop the confidence they need to work with others and independently.
Remember, if you need more information on anything you’ve read in this article, or would like to discover more about working for a supply agency, get in touch with our team today. They’re more than happy to talk you through all available options.