The Montessori method is an evidence-based, gentle pedagogy, which focuses on allowing children to make their own decisions, build confidence, independence and self-esteem, rather than hitting academic milestones. The role of parents and educators is to guide, rather than instruct, and spark the child’s interest further. Providing a curated and nurturing learning environment will allow children to follow their natural instincts, develop their social and emotional development and provide a strong foundation for long-life learning.
For parents interested in pursuing the Montessori route, we have partnered with Montessori and SEND expert Kay Duffy, from The Montessori Mind, in a wonderful and interesting conversation, in which she provides extensive insight into the topic and offers some top tips and strategies to implement this learning approach in children’s daily life and education. To find out more about Kay, head to this article.
How would you describe the Montessori method?
Empowering a child to be independent throughout their own, unique development. Consider Dr. Maria Montessori’s science-based theory as an educational tool to prepare your child for life, via these core values:
- Trusting the child
- Following and encouraging their interests
- Inspiring a lifelong love of learning
- Respect and empathy
- Providing tactile (hands-on) tools, which encourage optimum concentration
How does it differ from other forms of mainstream education?
It perhaps differs in the way that it follows the lead of each child and their individual development, rather than anticipating a group outcome. The lack of grades, textbooks and other forms of formal assessment helps ensure that classes remain non-competitive. The work of Dr. Maria Montessori began in 1907, when she opened the Casa Dei Bambini in Rome. It was through her thorough observations that Dr. Montessori developed a unique evidence-based approach, known today as the Montessori method.
Dr. Montessori believed that children enjoyed and needed periods of long concentration and that the traditional education model, with its structured lessons and teacher-driven curriculum, inhibited a child’s natural development and broke their concentration.
What are the main benefits of applying the Montessori method in children’s education?
A handful of benefits include the following:
- Raising independent, creative thinkers
- Social problem-solving
- A love of learning
Since Montessori has been around for quite a while, there has also been time to collect data that outlines the efficacy and success of the method.
How can Montessori be applied in daily activities at home?
Involve your child. Even if it’s not super helpful, especially in the early years it’s certainly more about the learning process. Let them discover how to do activities such as care for the plants, bake the cake, peel the potatoes, carry the glassware, dress themselves, etc.
What advice would you give families to apply this method in their home schooling routines?
Although potentially daunting, you can begin very simply. Spend some time observing your toddler or child. You can emphasise their interests by providing activities based around those interests. Toys are quite unnecessary, less is more. Most of the things you’ll need are ones that you have at home already. Try to demonstrate order and organisation with the toys and learning materials you do have. Consider this fantastic quote by Maria Montessori: “Anyone who wants to follow my method must understand that he should not honour me but follow the child as his leader”.
How can Montessori coexist with other forms of alternative education such as Outdoor Learning (Forest School)?
The official Montessori materials are unique to the method as there are no other alternative educational methods that have a complete, evidence-based set of materials to help children to learn. However, Dr. Montessori believed that children need a natural environment for their physical development and health. She advocated for children to move freely, roam in the garden and climb trees to support their physical development. Outdoor learning and Montessori therefore already co-exist.
Do you think that the future of education relies on alternative ways of learning?
Thinking about the future requires imagination, hope and rigour but in short, yes undoubtedly. In 2020, we discovered that learning takes place anytime and anywhere, with technology being a key driver. I think anybody who wants something different for their child, is already a part of the ‘Montessori movement’.
Tell us more about your project: The Montessori Mind.
With an academic background spanning Linguistics BSc and Speech Therapy (Special Education) and a career background embedded in The Arts, working with children in a creative way was a natural move. It’s my favourite thing to do! I set up The Montessori Mind a few years ago, after re-locating to France. After reading The Absorbent Mind by Dr. Maria Montessori, I joyfully began training and experience between the United Kingdom and France. Through a wide range of ateliers, I endeavour to support bilingual-education and emotional, cognitive and artistic development.
Can you recommend any resources for Montessori beginners, such as books, apps or websites?
Some interesting books are the following:
- The Montessori Toddler : A Parent’s Guide by Simone Davies
- The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori
- The Natural Laws of Children by Céline Alvarez
For websites, head to the following links:
I also have a range of visual guides on my Instagram Page:
We would like to thank Kay for taking the time to answer our questions about the Montessori method and for providing such wonderful insight into the topic. At The Golden Circle, we provide families with the necessary advice and strategies to follow different learning approaches that align with their needs and values. If you would like any advice or help with your child’s education, don’t hesitate to get in touch via our website or at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always on hand to help!