Montessori schools offer a mode of education that is less formal, more child-led, and embracing of unconventional but progressive methods of teaching & learning. The approach has been gaining significant traction since it was founded in the early 20th century by Italian physician Maria Montessori. The Montessori approach has been replicated across the globe in both private and public settings.
In the UK, most Montessori establishments tend to be nurseries that stop at the age of 6 years. However, there are some notable exceptions where this method is continued until a child leaves full-time education at either 16 or 18 years of age.
The Montessori method of education is a great option for clients who would prefer a gentler approach to their children’s education. These schools are also popular with clients who are relocating from countries where formal education doesn’t begin until the age of 6 or 7 such as Sweden or Finland.
Embracing Child-Centred Learning
Montessori schools emphasize the needs and interests of individual children as the foundation of their educational approach. This means that pupils have much greater control over their learning and can work at their own pace and level.
Montessori classrooms typically group children in multi-age classrooms, with students of different ages and abilities learning together. This helps to foster a sense of community, allows older students to mentor younger ones and encourages peer teaching and learning.
Respect for nature is also integral to their approach with Montessori schools often integrating environmental education into their curriculum. This encourages students to develop respect and appreciation for the natural world.
Montessori education places a strong emphasis on character development, teaching children important social and emotional skills such as empathy, respect, and responsibility.
Additionally, Montessori education emphasizes hands-on learning through their use of materials, resources & varied environments that students can touch, explore, and manipulate. This approach is thought to be particularly effective for younger children who learn best through direct sensory experiences.
Children are encouraged to build on their creativity: Montessori schools help foster creativity by providing students with opportunities to explore and express their own ideas and interests. This is thought by many to help pupil confidence and engagement as they become the architects of their own learning.
This process of confidence-building is then solidified as children are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning; Montessori schools allow them to choose their own work, set their own goals, and monitor their own progress.
Research has shown that Montessori students tend to perform well academically, particularly in areas such as Maths and reading. They also tend to develop strong problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.
The Montessori approach to education, whilst being considered ‘gentler’, is built upon very sound scientific principles. Maria Montessori built the educational practice on her observations that children who are at liberty to choose and operate with self-constructed goals are better placed to engage with their learning. Similarly, the research on the Montessori approach cites the fundamental links between more varied environmental interactions with their healthy psychological development.
To illustrate how successful these establishments can be, we have included a small feature on some of the Montessori establishments which our clients value:
Maria Montessori – Hampstead
For families living in Camden, Maria Montessori, based in an Edwardian mansion with a large and leafy outdoor space in Hampstead, is a school and nursery for pupils aged 2 to 12 years of age. Following the Montessori method of education, pupils work ‘with hands-on activities designed to help them develop physically, socially and intellectually’.
The school encourages its pupils to not feel despondent if they make mistakes. They emphasise the focus that’s placed on creating a naturally encouraging environment, one where children find things out for themselves and correct their own mistakes.
Hampstead has two children’s houses at the pre-school level (2-6 years): the Garden class, located in the original building with light-filled rooms; and the Coach House, which sees a cosier setting in a converted coach house on the school grounds. The school then has a large elementary school which is split between the lower (6-9 years) and upper (9-12) classes.
The Leicester Montessori schools group was first established in 1990, beginning with Loughborough Road Nursery. The site was formed to incorporate Montessori methods of teaching to tackle the lack of top-quality child care in Leicester at the time. The group has since expanded to cover preparatory and secondary school age groups.
The establishments aim to nurture children, conform to the highest levels of safety, boast unique character, and nurture children from a young age to achieve their full potential.
The preparatory and Grammar schools are located in the area of Stoneygate. They boast excellent modern facilities that have been retrofitted into a beautiful, listed 19th-century building. The school has an enviable student-teacher ratio that they utilise to treat pupils as individuals in line with the Montessori method. The grammar school ties together preparation for higher education under a structured framework with ensuring that each pupil’s specific requirements are ‘met and exceeded’.
River House Montessori School
River House Montessori is a popular choice for parents living in or working in Canary Wharf, East London. The preschool takes pupils aged 3 and 4 using full Montessori principles. As pupils enter the primary level, they will continue to use Montessori approaches to teaching and learning but these will be gradually and delicately intertwined with mainstream educational practices such as timetabling and structured lessons and tests.
Unusually for Montessoris, and much to the benefit of London parents, the school offers a smaller secondary school which opened in 2011. Pupils study a broad curriculum that blends national subjects with the Montessori method of education. During key stage 3, pupils will learn English Language, Mathematics, Science, Modern Languages, Latin and Classics, Information Technology, Art, Music, and Citizenship.
The humanities are, however, studied via a series of guided self-study projects – these are used to develop self-study skills and pupils are given a greater array of choices in the topics they want to undertake. The idea here is to give pupils freedom of choice in part of their secondary education whilst still covering the nationally prescribed syllabus.
If you are considering Montessori education for your child and would like advice on which schools may be best suited to them, or support with the application process, please do CONTACT US.