We are proud to say Mars Montessori was awarded a Montessori Accreditation for the second time this summer. Well done to all the team. But what is “Montessori”?
Mars Montessori and Les Trois Oursons – both part of Bilingual Nurseries – are very attached to the Montessori philosophy. At the very beginning of the 20thCentury, Maria Montessori developed a child-centred education based on letting the children learn by doing. She developed resources and proposed activities for the children to learn by doing and correcting themselves. The teacher is more like an observer and learns about the capacities of the children without interrupting them. The children learn through their senses and can develop their spontaneity and creativity thanks to the freedom the Montessori environment provides them in the classrooms and outdoors. A child’s concentration is golden and should be protected to help them extend it as they get older, and so the teachers really respect and value this.
One of the directors of Bilingual Nurseries, Philippe Fraser, was attracted to the Montessori philosophy through lots of reading and was touched by this philosophy, around 20 years ago, when he started to know more about Maria Montessori’s work. He was impressed by her remarkable journey and achievements as the first creator of an education centred on the children. Her methods give children the resources that enable them to develop their own capacities almost limitlessly. Children are natural learners and the Montessori method helps them reach their potential. Hence, the children develop a concentration and a self-confidence that makes them happy to learn. Knowledge is one of the keys to becoming confident and successful, so learning should be fun!
The teachers – in the Montessori world, they are called “directresses” – at Mars share this idea of child-centred education that gives the youngsters the freedom to take on their own learning. The materials help them to self-correct, which helps them to work on their concentration and solve problems by themselves. Montessori also encourages the children to take responsibilities: tidying up their activities once they have finished them, including their chairs; the understanding of socially acceptable behaviour and offers the benefits of vertical grouping (the mixing of ages).
The role of the directresses is not to let the children do whatever they want, but to observe their true abilities in a safe and properly prepared environment. Therefore, they can observe what skills the children use and how far they can go without interrupting them; providing the teachers with a better idea of how they can help the children with their next steps.
The freedom given to the children is possible thanks to a serious and organised environment. That is why Montessori nurseries and schools are evaluated on their Montessori teaching; to make sure that this philosophy is taught in the best way and really focused on the natural development of the children.
The MCI Montessori inspector awarded both Mars’ classrooms the sought after accreditation after completing the two-part on-site inspection of the nursery. As Adora, the manager says ‘It is so moving to see the children playing with the Montessori activities in a very natural way, following their own interests and choices’. The mixing of ages not only helps the youngest to learn from the oldest, it also smoothens their transition to the other room as they get older.
We think that the Montessori philosophy is the best complement the children need, besides the national Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). The EYFS has been heavily influenced by the Montessori approach. However, the EYFS as a national curriculum for the Early Years is intentionally vague as to how it is interpreted. This gives nurseries a large scope to implement different approaches. For instance, the EYFS says “children should learn to be independent”. To one teacher this might mean allowing the children to do whatever they want – without learning any sense of boundaries or responsibility. However, to a Montessori teacher, a child being independent starts with understanding how to use the materials properly, and how to put activities away after using them. Once the children know this, they can act independently, choosing their own activities and engaging with them in a meaningful way.
Our nurseries’ main goal is to facilitate the children’s happiness through learning, so they can become confident and responsible adults. We do our best to accompany the children in their first steps in education and give them the most suitable environment in which to learn. We are glad and proud to work in partnership with the parents to give the best start in life to our children- the future generation.