The Montessori approach

Montessori education promotes self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play giving children independence, strong academics, and self-motivation with a love of learning.

Within a Montessori nursery school, the environment is specially prepared for children. The materials are displayed on shelves that are at the children’s eye levels, making them easily accessible to everyone. This helps to build up the children’s developmental needs, as they are at the centre of the environment. 

The adult in the Montessori environment is the director rather than the teacher. The director guides the child to activities, keeping the child’s abilities and interests in mind. The child is always encouraged rather than pushed. Initially, the child is introduced to the exercises and materials available to him/her and then left alone to decide and choose activities according to his/her ability and interest.

However, the child is made aware of the fact that a teacher is always available to help where and when necessary. The teacher does not intervene unnecessarily and leaves the child alone, but is observing all the time, and steps in to help as soon as the need arises. This is done to develop the child’s independence and self-esteem. 

A Montessori prepared environment offers freedom of choice. This develops confidence, independence, and self-esteem. Freedom of choice allows the child to work individually or in a group situation and brings the best out in a child. However, freedom of choice does not mean that the child can run around aimlessly. This allows the child to develop at his/her own pace.

This will encourage love for order and consideration for others. Self-correcting exercises allow a child to learn independently. Carefully developed materials help to extend eye-hand coordination, independence, fine and gross motor skills, concentration, and, above all, self-esteem. Puzzles and constructive toys also encourage such skills, together with logical thinking. 

Thoughtfully developed language and maths materials allow the children to learn with step-by-step, graduated processes. Materials for geography and science are again developed for gradual learning. Other materials, along with projects for chosen subjects, such as nature puzzles, world maps, globes, flags, etc. develop the child’s knowledge of the world. 

Outdoor and indoor activities help develop physical and social skills as the children engage themselves in simple and complex play situations. Children will be expected to follow the ground rules, such as not to push each other, wait for their turn and share equipment with other children. Apart from following the rules explained by the teachers, sometimes the children will be making their own rules and will be accepted by others depending on the suitability of the rules. Overall, a Montessori environment is created and prepared especially for the children. A wide range of activities and materials are provided to help the children develop themselves to their full potential, and to provide friendly, loving, secure and a safe atmosphere along with an academically stimulating environment.

Early Years Foundation Stage

At East Lane Montessori we also follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which is the Government framework for children up to the age of five, setting out 7 key areas of learning around which activities are based. All our activities are based within the EYFS and added to with the Montessori philosophy.

The Early Years Foundation Stage is planned around four main themes

A Unique Child Positive Relationships Enabling Environments Learning and Development
A Unique Child Every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
Positive Relationships Children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person
Enabling Environments The environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning.
Learning and Development Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. All areas of Learning and Development are equally important and inter-connected.

3 Prime Areas

Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED)

Communication and Language (C&L)

Physical Development (PD)

4 Specific Areas

Literacy (L)

Mathematics (M)

Understanding the World (UtW)

Expressive Arts and Design (EAD)

The 7 areas of learning and development are further divided into age bands. Your child’s progress is recorded, to support and encourage them throughout their journey in the EYFS. For example, you may see ‘PD 30-50 months’. This tells us that the child is currently demonstrating an activity or skill that relates to Physical Development within the age band of 30-50 months.

Alongside these areas of development there are also the Characteristics of Effective Learning which describe how your child learns best. The 3 Characteristics of Effective Learning are:
  1. Playing and Exploring – Engagement – Finding out and exploring, playing with what they know and being willing to ‘have a go’.
  2. Active Learning – Motivation – Being involved and concentrating, keep trying, enjoying achieving what they set out to do.
  3. Creating and thinking critically – Thinking – Having their own ideas, making links, choosing ways to do things

Staff will refer to these areas of learning and characteristics when planning and preparing activities and when assessing and observing your child. Adults will consider the Characteristics of Effective Learning within the observation, assessment and planning cycle of the EYFS.

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Our Montessori Materials

We use special Montessori equipment in our classrooms, which are designed specifically to provide concrete representations of abstract concepts. For example, mathematical concepts are established using number rods, golden beads and spindle boxes.

All Montessori materials are designed to be interesting, fun and self-correcting, so your child can immediately see if they make a mistake. Here are some examples of Montessori materials that we use:

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