Sunday, 6 September 2015

"Let me be" - a Montessorian replies

Erin Blessitt writes in response to my recent feature about children's social and emotional development, Let me be:

I found your article entitled ‘Let me be’ particularly resonant and exciting. I am a Montessori teacher in a pre-school in Bristol and the fundamental basis of my work with young children is to respect and follow the unique child. I noted many parallels between suggestions in your article and Maria Montessori’s method of teaching young children. We employ many of your ideas to great effect and I would like to share some of those with you if I may.
With regards to settings often wishing for an upbeat atmosphere, which can sometimes interrupt concentration, we aim to provide a calm and purposeful environment where the children are able to follow their own interests. We try to ensure that if a child is concentrating they are not disturbed, as these moments of concentration are often when deep learning occurs.
This leads me to your point that all children have different patterns of learning. We support this by offering space where children can choose their own activities but also offering space and time for group work and socialisation. We recognise that, just like adults, children have good days and not so good days. This means that what works for one child on one day might not work for them the next day.
The fundamental basis of Montessori is respecting the child and acting as a guide, allowing them to follow their interests and encourage a love of learning. As with all methods of teaching, our first priority is that the children in our care are secure and happy.
I think that as Early Years Practitioners it is important to share good practice and I think the Montessori method has a wealth of practical and tested ideas to offer. People often have preconceptions and misunderstandings about the Montessori method and I wanted to write to show that we are often singing from the same song sheet but not realising it!
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