[Montessori Approach]

The Montessori approach is one of the best solutions to meet the needs of modern society. Differences in socioeconomic status, race and nationality do not impair the success of Montessori education, because this approach reflects the universal development of children around the world.

The success of the Montessori approach comes from thorough observation and understanding of children. It follows the laws of development, that is, children’s "sensitive periods", and helpschildren freely develop themselves. After more than a hundred years of implementation, the Montessori approach has gained the respect of people around the world, and many Montessori schools have made prolific achievements.

Montessori education is designed to support the natural development of children from birth to adulthood, so it is not confined to nursery education, but can take the child right up through secondary school. It is founded on the belief that within the human being there is an enormous untapped potential that needs a fertile environment and a different educational approach from the teacher in order to be fully expressed.

Great focus is given to the formation of the child’s fundamental capacities during the first years of life - not just intellectual capacity but also the development of a strong character.

---- If a child can think clearly and logically, concentrate and persevere, he will more easily be able to learn to read and write, to do mathematics and to learn about the world.
---- If a child can communicate, cooperate, and take into account the needs of others, the social problems of his generation will be solved.
---- If a child has a strong character he will be able to make a positive contribution to society.
Children who have been given the right kind of support during these formative years grow into children who are self-motivated and love learning, can think flexibly and creatively, and who are not only conscious of the needs of others but actively foster harmony within their peer groups.

In traditional education, children are given an intake of facts dictated by an adult-led curriculum and are then tested to see how much they have retained. The ability to retain information is then given a test score, which is used as a measure of academic success. All children are expected to have the same learning style and assumed to have equal capacity to achieve certain standards. In this model the teacher is active and the child is the passive receiver of information.

In the Montessori approach, the teacher takes on a different role, which is to guide rather than teach. The child becomes the active learner and the teacher the passive facilitator. The Montessori curriculum is child-led.

Children are given the freedom to develop according to their own unique timetable. As a result, they are able to reach each developmental milestone when they are ready. Actively engaged in their own development, they grow into confident, socially aware, empathetic adults who are contributing members of society.

The Montessori approach relies on several fundamental principles:

[Planes of Development - The Way Children Grow]

On the path from birth to adulthood the child passes through several distinct phases. In each of these phases he is not only physically different but he also has different psychological characteristics and therefore different developmental needs. At each phase, which Montessori called a ‘plane of development’, the child has such different physical and psychological characteristics that Montessori described the passing from one plane to the next as a “rebirth”.

Montessori called the first plane of development from zero to six years “Infancy”, the stage from six to twelve “Childhood”, from twelve to eighteen “Adolescence” and the final plane from eighteen to twenty-four “Maturity”. Many psychologists have also described these same six different planes but only Dr. Montessori has provided a way to respond to this knowledge with an educational model. In this way, she has redefined education as an ‘aid to life’ saying that if we support the natural development of the child at each plane then we will optimize the development of the whole human being. There is a particular time in the child’s life when he is most able to take a particular developmental step. These opportunities must be grasped because when they are missed the development that may take place at a later time will never be as complete as if it had happened at the right moment.

[The Absorbent Mind – A Special Way of Thinking]

In the first six years of life, the child has a very special kind of mind. It is the kind of mind that allows the newborn baby to learn any language in which they are immersed when they are born. It is the kind of mind that allows every baby to become a child of the culture into which he or she is born – taking on the customs, habits, feelings and sentiments of that culture, without conscious effort. For this reason Montessori called it the “Absorbent Mind” because the young child seems to soak up everything in his or her environment without even thinking about it. The fact that the child’s mind works in this way means that much emphasis must be put on education in the first six years of life, when the child can learn with total ease.

[Sensitive Periods – Offer Windows of Opportunity]

Montessori observed that during the first six years of life the child has particular periods of time when they are driven to seek something in the environment that results in them becoming engaged in some kind of activity. This activity leads them to acquire certain traits that we consider to be human – the ability to speak a language, the ability to use our hands to express our thoughts, the ability to reason. These “Sensitive Periods”, which overlap and support each other, last for a limited period and usually have all faded by the time the child is six years old. They provide a timetable for optimal natural development and the Montessori approach puts great emphasis on supporting these periods during the first plane of development.

Other sensitivities occur at particular times in the life of the older child and these are dictated by the characteristics of the child at each stage. Although these are not critical ‘windows of opportunity’ as with the Sensitive Periods they still offer an indication of the right time for particular developments to be made and as such, their support is given much emphasis in the Montessori approach.

[Human Tendencies – The Way Humans Naturally Behave]

From the moment a baby is born, he or she strives to orient him or herself and explore things in the world, they try to find meaning in everything they experience, they are driven to be independent and they want to find a way to communicate with the people around them. Babies are urged to manipulate things with their hands in order to know what they are, to concentrate on the task in front of them and to repeat things in order to make everything that they do more and more perfect.

These developmental drives are all a part of the natural behavior that humans beings take with them through life and that help the baby develop and adapt to his or her new world. Maria Montessori called them the “Human Tendencies” and she said that the environment must allow for all of these to be freely expressed by the child if he or she is to flourish.

[The Montessori approach is…]

The Montessori approach rests on the premise of supporting the natural tendencies and sensitivities of each individual as they pass through different developmental stages. The Montessori approach can then be summarized in the following way:
-The creation of an environment that serves the particular needs of the child’s stage of development.
-The provision of an adult who understands the developmental needs of the child and acts as a guide to help the child find his natural path of development.
- The freedom for the child to engage in his own development according to his own particular developmental timeline.

[A Happy Learner]

The Montessori approach helps to develop children’s inner potential and lays the foundation for a pleasant lifelong journey of learning for every child. Researchers have observed many unique effects of the Montessori environment.

Students in Montessori schools:
1) Usually become fluent readers and are able to understand what they read by the age of 6.
2) Have a conceptual understanding of higher mathematics.
3)Are more sociable than traditional school students and are able to solve their conflicts in an appropriate manner.
4) Becomes self-directed learners.
5) Possess natural self-esteem built on the basis of personal ability.
6) Do not seek to hurt others.
7) Demonstrate a polite and respectful attitude, and are able to cooperate with their peers while they play and work.
8) Are creative and inventive.
9) Are able to seek a win-win solution.

[An Optimal Development Environment]

The developmental needs of children are changing as they grow, so the learning environment should reflect the specific developmental needs of children at different stages. Through years of scientific research, the Montessori approach has developed an environment that can be adapted to the needs of children at all stages of development.

Children in the Montessori environment:
1) Are able to experience an open, supportive and authentic community atmosphere.
2) Have the freedom to develop at their own pace.
3) Are able to "try" different patterns of behavior without being mocked or causing negative consequences.
4) Are encouraged to consider the collective needs of their community.
5) Can experience different roles ---- leaders, teachers, and learners in a mixed-age setting.
6) Are surrounded by friends who can help identify and correct mistakes.
7) Can learn from their mistakes throughself-corrective teaching materials.

[Montessori Teacher]

In the Montessori environment, the teacher is a guide, an observer or a facilitator whose task is to create a “prepared environment” for the development of children, so that children are able to enjoy themselves in the environment and gradually appreciate the joy of the learning. This encourages their initiative to explore the world and assimilate knowledge related to their development.

A qualified Montessori teacher is required to undergo nearly6 months of training on Montessori theory and the presentation of teaching materials and 2 months of observation and practice. In the 6 months of training on theory and the presentation of teaching materials, students also need to complete several theory essays and complete presentation of “albums”, which contain all the information gathered in the training. They ultimately have to pass oral and written examinations organized by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) in order to successfully obtain an AMI diploma.

[A Decalogue by Dr. Maria Montessori]

1. Never touch the child unless invited by him (in some form or another).

2. Never speak ill of the child in his presence or absence.

3. Concentrate on strengthening and helping the development of what is good in the child so that its presence may leave less and less space for evil.

4. Be active in preparing the environment. Take meticulous and constant care of it. Help the child establish constructive relations with it. Show the proper place where the means of development are kept and demonstrate their proper use.

5. Be ever ready to answer the call of the child who stands in need of you and always listen and respond to the child who appeals to you.

6. Respect the child who makes a mistake and can then or later correct himself, but stop firmly and immediately any misuse of the environment and any action which endangers the child, his development or others.

7. Respect the child who takes a rest or watches others working or ponders overwhathehimselfhasdoneorwilldo.Neithercallhim,norforcehimtoother forms of activity.

8. Help those who are in search of activity and cannot find it.

9. Be untiring in repeating presentations to the child who refused them earlier, inhelpingthechildacquirewhatisnotyethisownandovercomeimperfections. Do this by animating the environment with care, with restraint and silence, with mild words and loving presence. Make your ready presence felt to the child who searches and hide from the child who has found.

10. Always treat the child with the best of good manners and offer him the best you have in yourself and at your disposal.

[Programs and Teachers]

Students’ age and number
(IC)1.5 – 2.5/15
(CASA)2.5 – 6/26

Lead teacher: must have an AMI Diploma
English teacher: must be a native English speaker and own a TEFL certificate
Assistant teacher: must have an AMI Assistants Certificate

[Furniture and Materials]

Montessori furniture must be the appropriate size for children, and be safe and beautiful. The teaching materials are produced by Heutink, one of the world's best Montessori materials manufacturer.

[(NIDO)/ 0-1 years old]

NIDO means "nest" in Italian. According to the requirements of the uterine environment, the NIDO environment is built to be comfortable, quiet, and homoeothermic. Due to their dietary needs, it is not recommended for infants to separate from their mothers, therefore NIDO is a parent-child class. NIDO is the first environment in which an infant begins to learn to be independent from the mother. The course design of NIDO takes into account the physiological and psychological characteristics of newborns. Physiologically, newborns need opportunities for physical movement to prepare for walking and sensory stimulation for independent exploration of the world. They also need breastfeeding, and psychologically, the care and comfort of their mothers.

With the development of the infants physical ability, their desire to explore the surrounding environment becomes more intense. Tables, chairs and other objects in the NIDO environment that can help support the infants must be stable and heavy, and the ground should be neither too hard, nor too soft, and be suitable for crawling and walking. Objects within the reach of the infants must be safe and without hidden danger. NIDO also provides a step-by-step sensory guide for the newborn. It is a multiple sensory environment with gustatory sense (complementary food), auditory sense (music environment), visual sense (object tracing), tactile sense (hand-eye coordination), sense of vestibular equilibrium and so on, which helps to promote their sensory integration.

[(IC)/ 1.5-2.5 years old]

The most important area in the IC class is the practical life area, in which infants learn to take care of themselves and the environment and thereby complete their self-construction through an abundant practical life experience. Another important area is the sensorial area, which provides rich sensory stimulation for infants through sensorial materials.

With the rapid development of their gross motor, fine motor and physical abilities, the curiosity of children at this stage is in direct proportion to their ability to explore. Yet, their cognitive ability needs to be further enhanced. Therefore, fragile or sharp objects should be placed safely in the environment. The weight of movable objects like tables and chairs should be subject to the size of the children (children may move tables and chairs in accordance with their own needs, so these objects cannot be too heavy).

[(CASA)/2.5 - 6 years old]

The CASA class is for children ages 2 - 6. From activities that range from self-care to care for the environment, exploration with visual, tactile, auditory, olfactory, and gustatory materials which stimulate the brain, children develop consciousness, ideas, thinking and understanding, and build their intelligence base. Theirperceptions become more agile, accurate, and concise. In the process of completing their Montessori work, children obtain the most valuable objectives, such as the ability to concentrate, self-confidence, the ability to self-express, and the ability to choose. Children become more and more independent after entering the CASA class.

Children at this stage are already  very skilled at walking, standing, running, jumping, squatting, rolling, climbing, passing over obstacles and so on. They can explore the environment in many ways and have a strong desire to do so. At this stage, children have basically grasped the oral expression of their mother tongue and enjoy creating words on their own. They like listening to stories and can retell some simple ones. They begin to look for partners, and their attention begins to fix on children of the same age. They try to start some social activities like establishing friendships and sharing toys. Also, they begin to grasp abstract concepts.

[Six Education Areas]

1、Sensorial Education
Through the use of systematic sensorial teaching materials, sensorial education improves children's sensorial experience and judgment ability, enhances their cognitive ability, and lays a foundation for their future learning of mathematics.

2、Practical Life Education
Practical life education helps to develop children’s basic ability to take care of themselves, others, and the environment, and helps to establish their self-confidence and independence.

3、Language Education
Through the appropriate use of language materials (in English or Chinese), children begin to understand the shape of characters from tactile exploration and to deepen their muscle memory for writing. At the same time, the use of the three-period teaching method helps to provide a rich language and reading environment for children, and to lay a solid foundation for future language development.

Culture education involves geography, astronomy, history, natural science and other subjects, and keeps in line with the thematic teaching of other public schools.

5、Mathematics Education
With the use of systematic teaching materials in mathematics, children have access to actual mathematical operations and develop their mathematical minds. Consequently, they become naturally cognizant of high-level abstract mathematical concepts and lay a solid foundation for the future learning of higher-level mathematics.

6、Peace Education
The emotional aspect of Montessori education validates that by understanding their own feelings and the value of emotions, children can learn to live in peace with themselves, with others and finally with the environment and society at large.

[Suoni Della Natura/1.4 – 3.7 years old]

Babies begin to develop their sense of hearing while still in the womb, and infants at about one year of age can follow the rhythm of music to move their bodies. Music is widely considered a universal language, and children are born with the advanced ability to appreciate art. Therefore, in their sensitive period for music, we need to provide children with a high-quality environment in order to help them develop their musical intelligence. "Sound is not music, but the feeling hidden in the sound is music." We should often invite children to enjoy the beauty of music, and stimulate their ability to think, imagine and create, so that they can appreciate the mystery and joy of music.

The age from 1-3 is a period of rapid development for children’s body and language, in which children begin to shift from passive to active social contact, and begin to demonstrate a sense independence and a will for self-expression. What stimulates children in infancy is music and rhythm, so in the beginning, we introduce children to rhythm-based courses. We encourage children to express themselves through singing. By introducing rhythm in games, songs, stories, musical instruments, music maps and drama performances, we lead children to experience the best of music.

[Mondo a Colori /1.7 - 3 years old]

Beauty and harmony are the primary conditions in the Montessori art classroom.

A child’s brain has unlimited creative potential. Children often use color and art materials to express their feelings and the results of their observation. Based on the three primary colors, we offer a course to train children’s ability to distinguish various colors. By presenting a variety of handicrafts, we help to develop children's fine motor skill sand their ability to paste, color,paint, and write. By introducing food and other creative content, we help to train children's imagination and creativity and develop their interest and ability in art.