What is Montessori?
Our educational philosophy is based on an approach called the 'Montessori Method'. Briefly this method of learning focuses on helping children develop the self-belief & confidence to become independent and productive members of their communities; to think and make good choices for themselves; to treat others and their environment with respect and kindness; and to enjoy their work.
(Montessorians call play ‘work’, because all children learn through play and because play has the same importance for a child as work does for an adult.)
To help facilitate these learning goals, the classroom is laid out so that children can take responsibility for it by themselves. Wherever possible, tools, utensils & furniture are child-sized . Children are helped and encouraged to keep the classroom clean & tidy, to take care of their own personal needs as much as possible and to look after themselves & others as well as plants & animals that might share their space.
Teaching materials are divided into areas of learning. They are carefully designed to teach skills and concepts by way of graded activities that logically build & follow on from each other. Learning activities also make use of all the child’s senses, recognizing that all children learn through different channels. Activities are presented as self-contained units on trays or in baskets and easily accessible on open shelves. Because teachers make sure that every activity on the shelves is a good one, children are free to choose to work with the activities that interest them most.
Montessori teachers have extensive training in child development as well as their educational curriculum. This means that they can actively help all children to become interested in, develop and work in all areas of learning – even if this means that they have to design and make a special activity just for one child. Children can choose to work by themselves, with a friend or in small groups, either inside or outside. Most importantly, all learning is hands-on, so if you ask a child who taught them a particular skill, they are most likely to answer that they learnt it by themselves.
To ensure that everyone can live and work in harmony, there is a set of classroom rules that are easily understood & followed and gently but consistently enforced.
Running alongside all of this industrious activity is the over-riding aim that we hope to achieve by giving our children this type of education. We would like to give them the confidence & skills to be able to grow up into people who are able to forge positive relationships, lead productive lives, solve conflicts and protect their environment.
It is precisely these ideals that won Maria Montessori (Italy’s first ever female doctor, child psychologist, educator & founder of the method) repeated nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. Although Montessori developed this method of education nearly 100 years ago, all major aspects of her work have now been verified and confirmed by recent child developmental research and adopted by child-care settings around the world as best-practice.
Cotswold Montessori School, 3 Home Buildings, Great Barrington, Burford, OX18 4UR
Principal: Ailsa Monk BA (hons) Mont Dip, Tel: 01451 844350