The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum and the Montessori Philosophy
"Help me to do it for myself” is one of Maria Montessori’s most repeated sayings and accurately describes the philosophy of Bright Sparks Montessori School. Here children learn at their own pace, within a prepared environment providing structure and freedom within limits. The teacher observes and guides the child in choosing an activity which is appropriate to their stage of development, never pushing but actively encouraging them to explore and develop to their fullest potential.
The Montessori activities are very tactile and move from concrete to more abstract concepts and the child builds on what they have previously learnt. The Montessori prepared environment is of utmost importance and is divided into different areas. The first activities that children take part in are called ‘Practical life’- these develop their ability to look after themselves and their surroundings therefore gaining independence. They involve the mind and the hand and develop their hand eye co-ordination, dexterity and concentration. As Maria Montessori states in ‘The Absorbent Mind’, ‘The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. It lays the whole basis for his character and social behaviour’. As a child masters these skills his self-esteem and confidence increase.’
The Sensorial materials help to develop observational skills, stimulate senses, auditory discrimination and coordination of movement. These involve sorting, matching, grading, shape and colour activities and are also an indirect preparation for maths. The child becomes more aware of their environment and develops the ability to deal with ideas, concepts and pattern.
When a child has developed their concentration and dexterity using the activities above, they progresses to phonics and reading, writing and mathematics through concrete materials. Each piece of Montessori apparatus has specific learning objectives. New information is given in small and graded steps through the Montessori 3 period lesson. In this way a child only experiences success and a love of learning is fostered.