A Unique Child
Every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
Montessori perspective: within each child lies a hidden potential. For this potential to be unlocked we need to give children the opportunities to develop trust and autonomy, which will nurture confidence, self esteem and courage. The ability to embrace new challenges, take risks and act with initiative is a natural outcome of these conditions and underpins the principles of the ‘unique child’. Montessori saw freedom as the single most important factor in allowing children to develop as spontaneous, creative individuals.
“This fashioning of the human personality is a secret work.All that we know is that he has the highest potentialities, but we do not know what he will be. He must ‘become incarnate’ with the help of his own will.” (Montessori, 1966)
Children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person.
Montessori perspective: the parents are the child’s first educators and need to be respected. A partnership with parents gives children opportunities to develop their full potential and become unique, strong and autonomous and individuals with consideration for themselves and others.
“Little children between three and six years of age have a special psychology. They are full of love. They are only without love if they are ill-treated. If they are badly treated their real nature is altered. They are full of love themselves and need to be loved in order to grow.”
The environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning.
Montessori perspective: a favourable environment, which supports the child’s self construction, is carefully prepared by knowledgeable practitioners, ensuring that children’s developmental needs are met. This is linked with Montessori’s view of human tendencies, stages of development and sensitive periods. While the Montessori legacy of specific learning materials is strong and will be key preparing enabling environments, it is also creative and forward thinking to include other materials in the environment to meet the individual needs and interests of children, provided these are used in such a way as to support the essential principles and philosophy of the Montessori approach.
“In an open environment, that is, one that is suitable to his age, a child’s psychic life should develop naturally and reveal its inner secret.” (Montessori, 1966)
Learning & Development
Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates and all areas of learning and development are equally important and inter-connected.
Montessori perspective: not just being a particular way of learning and development, more importantly Montessori principles are concerned with the development of the whole personality, seeing it as the foundation on which everything which follows will be built. Children are active learners and will learn from the environment if it offers appropriate stimuli to their development. Learning is guided by the children’s developmental needs, and flourishes when the children are given time and space to observe, explore and investigate the environment and engage with it. Empathetic practitioners play an active part in engaging children with the favourable environment. They facilitate the child’s need to learn, not only from them, but also from peers and by themselves.