The Montessori Approach to Education


Dr. Maria Montessori graduated as the first woman Doctor of Medicine in Italy in the 1890’s after which she became involved in working with children of varying abilities. She developed her own methods of educating and stimulating children which are still being used today.


This method of education aims to encourage young children to carry on their learning process in the same way they have done since birth, not by teaching them in the formerly understood sense of imparting knowledge, but by providing them with apparatus and carefully thought out materials for them to learn at their own pace. Learning is fun if they are encouraged at the right time.


In our nursery school there are many opportunities for the children to learn at their own pace and level. This encourages self-discipline so they are not doing something because we tell them to, but because they want to and are learning for themselves, each other and their environment, for example washing up their own cups and helping clear up after activities. The Montessori method is informal and encourages the children to develop their own individuality and hopefully relieve any competitive pressure a child may feel in more formal surroundings.

  • Is a philosophy based on scientific observation of child development

  • Is based on the real needs of the child, as opposed to the adult concept of what a child should be given

  • Is a comprehensive method of guiding child development so that each one can be helped to realise his full potential

  • Cultivates and encourages each child’s inner urge to learn

  • Takes into account the inner mental powers possessed by each young child, to absorb knowledge and learn from his environment.

  • Emphasises that the first six years are the most important, in that her/his learning experiences in those early years will colour her/his whole approach to learning through to adulthood

  • Recognises that each child deserves respect as an individual who has a deep need for purposeful work. Unlike the adult, whose interest is to complete the activity, the child achieves self-development through the effort of perfecting the activity.

  • Encourages children to explore a range of carefully thought out materials in their own time and pace – they learn by their own choice of work and have the excitement of making their own choices.

  • Supports the child’s activity by means of a framework of simple rules which gives her/him the freedom she/he needs without abusing the freedom of other children.

  • Makes learning a pleasant and rewarding activity – much of the equipment is self-correcting and the child can see for her/himself when successful. The activities encourage independence and an orderly approach to problem solving from an early age

  • The Montessori pre-school classroom is a ‘living room’ for children. Children choose their activities from among the self-correcting material displayed on open shelves that allow the child to learn through their senses. The pre-school environment unifies the psycho-social, physical, and academic functioning of the child. Its important task is to provide children with an early and general foundation that includes a positive attitude toward school, inner security and a sense of order, pride in the physical environment, abiding curiosity, a habit of concentration, habits of initiative and persistence, the ability to make decisions, self-discipline, and a sense of responsibility to other members of the class, school and community. This foundation will enable them to acquire more specialised knowledge and skills through out their school career.

The Montessori Classroom