Answers to a few Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) 0

Where did the Montessori curriculum come from?

Dr Maria Montessori started the Montessori curriculum in her native, Italy. She was born in a small town called Chiaravalle in 1870 but later, in 1882, moved to Rome with her parents! After her schooling she went to medical school and was the first women ever granted a degree in Medicine in Italy. When she started working as a physician first she worked with the mentally deficient and this is where many of her findings and theories come from.

Montessori opened her first “Children’s House” in a poor area of Rome in 1907. Most of the children that attended the first Casa de Bambini were poor and some were also mentally deficient. Montessori used her finding from her work as a physician and created the materials based on scientific facts and through her observations of the children working with materials her curriculum was developed! Most of the equipment used in a Montessori classroom today has been tested and worked on by Dr Maria herself.

Montessori spread around Europe first and in 1915 she was brought her curriculum to America. She established the Montessori movement in India during the war and left India in 1946. She continued to work on her philosophy and studying theorists and philosophers until her death in 1952 in Holland at the age of 82.

Why are Montessori teachers called guides?

In a Montessori classroom the adults in the class are not teachers! They do not teach anything! They are guides or directresses. They do not teach the children anything because the children are capable of self-learning. The adults guide the children through the curriculum at the child’s pace and show the child how to use the material correctly.

Does Montessori curriculum benefit all children, including children with special need and extremely gifted children?

Yes! Children in the Montessori curriculum work at their own pace and to their own strengths and advantages! Montessori guides or directresses guide the children through the materials according to their own abilities. A child learns self-praise through the independence and self-confidence or completing tasks at their own pace and therefore neither feel like nor compare their achievements to the other children in their class.

What age do children have to be to attend a Montessori classroom? 

The Montessori Curriculum starts at birth and goes right up until 18 years old.

The class structure is a multi age grouping system. From 0-3 Years, 3-6 Years, 6-9 Years, 9-12 Years, 12-15 Years and 15-18 Years! At I AM Montessori our Family Day Care Educators run Montessori Family Day Care from 0-3 Years and our classes at Yeronga are from 0-3 Years, 0-6 Years and Drop Off Classes from 3-6 Years.

Why are classes multi aged?

Montessori’s observations in the early 20th century in Casa de Bambini recognised that children work better in a multi aged classrooms. She found that the older children take pride in setting good examples for the younger children, they like to show younger children how to use materials correctly and they act as guide themselves. The younger children then in turn learn from the older children and strive to be independent like older children.

Is Montessori too structured or strict for my child?

This is a common misconception about Montessori. The Montessori environment is actually a lot freer than other classrooms. The children experience ‘freedom within limits’ in our environment. The children are free to choose any activity that they have been guided through by the directress. They are free to choose activities that they have mastered as well as well as activities that they are still in the process of mastering!

How can I, as a parent, ensure that my child is learning the necessary skills to be ready for school or ready to move onto the next level of their education?

Although the children choose their own activities in the environment every Montessori Directress observes the children and their progress at their own rate. We work with the children at their own pace and we are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, using their strengths to build up and improve their weaknesses. Through the curriculum in 0-6 years the children learn through the practical life area, sensorial area (working through the senses), mathematics, language and culture. Everything they learn is in a concrete way and therefore the children learn it easier than trying to learn the abstract thought for each activity and lesson.

Mainstream Schooling and how it can benefit from montessori 0

Mainstream schooling has changed considerably over the past decade. Teachers are working harder than ever to try to help their students understand more and more content. The national curriculum that has been rolled out around Australia is packed with content and moves very quickly. Primary school teachers are left to highlight key concepts and skills and then find time to teach these thoroughly to their students. To briefly describe the situation, early childhood teachers are now given less time to focus on the basics and, at the same time, are expected to help their children achieve increasingly higher literacy and numeracy results. To make it more stressful for teachers, poor student results are often shown in the media to be a result of “poor teaching and poor teachers” (instead of questioning the curriculum and re-examining the process of delivering this curriculum).  

I believe children in mainstream schools would benefit incredibly  by having access to the full Montessori philosophy. Where this is not possible, I believe children would still benefit from being able to use the carefully designed Montessori materials. 

Teachers are required to follow the National Curriculum. In Queensland, many schools use the “Curriculum to Classroom” material. These documents are lesson and unit plans based on the National Curriculum that outline what teachers should be teaching each day. The documents are complete to the point of detailing which questions teachers should ask their class and videos they should show the children. Often teachers feel they have to use more worksheets in the classroom so that they have written “evidence” to support the “data” that many teachers are asked to produce at the end of each unit plan. Perhaps early childhood teachers need to become more creative in how they record evidence. Videos of children using concrete materials perhaps is a place to start? 

Many early childhood teachers still try to implement as many concrete learning experiences as they can for their students. Concrete materials are those that children can hold, manipulate and touch; real objects to help develop real concepts. Many teachers re-make these at home, in their own time each year or each term dependent on the needs of the children in their classes. I would have loved to have known about the Montessori maths and language materials earlier in my teaching career, as these would have benefited my students so much!  The control of error in each material promotes self-correcting and problem solving. The carefully built and designed materials are mathematically accurate and reinforce the base ten system. Children enjoy the sensorial, tactile experience of touching sandpaper, sand, chalk, wood and other interesting materials. 

Note from Rebecca: There is no reason why Montessori streams cannot be implemented into State Schools if the Principal and School Community want it. This direction has been given by the Head of Government in Queensland. If you would love to see your local school implement Montessori, contact your Principal or even us at I AM Montessori if you would like some help!

{NEW STAFF MEMBER} Today we welcome Jemma to the team... 0

Our team has now grown to four of us! Today we welcome our fourth staff member, Jemma Hicks as Education Coordinator!

You can read more on Jemma below:


There is a strong focus in mainstream education to improve literacy and numeracy results. This may seem like an honourable mission, but in my experience many children are missing out on building foundational social, emotional and fine and gross motor skills in the process. Children who are not able to hold a pencil correctly, use scissors, open their own lunchbox or go to the toilet independently are expected to learn a list of sight words each week. Five year olds who are unable to initiate conversations, take turns using equipment, ask for help, (or if they can play with their friends ball at lunch time), are expected to write abstract character descriptions and persuasive texts for english. As you would expect, many five year olds find it difficult to write a persuasive text and many early childhood teachers are pulling their hair out and wondering why they are asked to teach this in the first place!
I started working in education as a Primary School teacher in 2009 because I have a passion for Early Childhood education. As I worked as a Prep and Year One teacher for six years I saw the focus in the mainstream classrooms begin to shift away from the children. Over the years the Early Childhood curriculum in Queensland schools has moved away from the play based, constructionist approach with concrete materials, to an extremely formal and abstract system that I feel would be more appropriate in the middle or upper school. Instead of focusing on social and emotional skills and helping children develop their independence and self-esteem, Prep and Year One teachers are “under the hammer” to ensure their children are reading and writing at pre-determined levels by the end of each term. 

Montessori education has been around for more than 100 years and I believe we need it now more than ever. I believe the reason Montessori is becoming more popular is that parents and children are feeling the effects of the mainstream schooling system that is pushing our young children to “achieve” without stopping to look at the result. I have spoken with many parents who feel distressed because their child does not want to go to school or already feel they are failing. In a Montessori environment, children learn to be independent, persistent and self-motivated. They are given time to develop their social skills, emotional independence and creativity. They are given time and the concrete resources to really play with and explore each concept.  I believe Montessori education is a real education. Children are given the freedom to learn and grow and the freedom to develop their unique personalities and interests.  How can we expect young adults to enter the workforce as self-motivated, independent, creative and resilient people if we never give them the opportunity to develop these skills throughout primary school?

 

We look forward to the impact Jemma will have on I AM Montessori and the direction we are heading!

If you would like to contact Jemma you can email her at jemma@iammontessori.com.au or call 07 3848 2391

FIST PUMPS, FOCUS AND FREEDOM - For a teacher the end of term is a feeling of sadness and joy 0

Teachers generally look forward to the end of term as they need the mid term breaks to regenerate their own batteries and recuperate from the routine of school but for the teachers at I Am Montessori they dread it as it means saying goodbye to some of the children who aren’t re-enrolling!

Each child is cherished at our classes at I AM Montessori and every child is guided through the Montessori curriculum at their own pace! We teach about one hundred children per week and each one is unique and special to us.

During the ten weeks of any term we see a huge progression in our children.

For a new child starting term it is common for them to be unfocused and easily distracted but as the term comes to an end it is so rewarding to see a child finish a task and see the self-praise on his face! Often at the beginning of term parents fret about their child not being able to concentrate and not being as settled as other children but with a little reassurance and some persistence they too can see that the building up of these skills doesn’t take long!

During term 2 I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my classes! I’m not going to lie, some days have been a struggle coming into work being homesick and other health issues but I can honestly say that once class starts and I see the magic of Montessori come to life in my classroom my mood is instantly uplifted and I forget about everything else!

There have been a lot of touching moments in this term from cuddles to high fives and even fist pumps! But my favourite thing during a ten-week term is to see the progression and accomplishment of children finishing tasks they struggled with or were not even interested in at the beginning.

From the child who on their first class couldn’t focus on any particular activity and was easily distracted to the same child pouring water for 20 minutes on week 4 of term. Or the child who struggled to go the bathroom at 3 years old alone to progress on week 6 and go to the toilet unaided! Or to see the child who has special needs being unable to focus in week one to being much more focused by week 3 and completing tasks that are beyond their development! There is also the infant who cannot do a lot of tasks but thoroughly enjoys trying and keeps trying to place the ball in the Imbucare Box and in week 4 he finally places the ball in, opens the drawer takes out the ball and replaces it in the hole! Or the child who is on the brink of reading who reads her first sentence. Or the child who is so excited about learning ‘big’ numbers and has the ‘light bulb’ moment when she sees all the beads laid out on the mat! Sometimes the simplest tasks can be a struggle for some children and it is amazing to see a child choosing her own work from a shelf who previously needed to be guided to choose an activity!

I am looking forward to a break but I’m looking forward to seeing all my special little people after the break more!

We love Montessori!