Montessori Education

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What is Montessori at Beechworth?
Educational Program and Practice
Children’s Health and Safety
Physical Environment
Staffing
Relationships with Children
Collaborative Community Relationships
Leadership and Service Management
Peek inside a Montessori classroom
Links

What is Montessori at Beechworth?

Simply stated, Montessori is a different approach to teaching and learning. The name comes from Maria Montessori, an Italian doctor who dedicated her life to working with young children, and studying how they learn naturally. Around the world, educators have seen the potential for her approach, and have been developing and refining it ever since.

The keystone to Montessori is fostering a love of learning – using a child’s innate passion for learning, they are given opportunities to engage in spontaneous, purposeful activities with the guidance of a trained adult.

All of our teachers are dual qualified – in addition to their normal teacher qualifications, they possess post graduate qualifications in Montessori education. Most class rooms also have full-time teaching assistants, which means excellent staff to student ratios and is something which distinguishes our school from many other primary school settings.

By design, each class has a 3 year range of ages, and uses very specific equipment and materials across all areas of the curriculum, everything from geometry to botany. Typically, teachers present lessons to a child or children in small groups, who then use the materials to achieve a level of mastery.

Within guidelines, children have more choice in their learning than is generally seen within a conventional classroom. They cover all areas of a normal curriculum – the difference is that they have more flexibility in how this is done. They also have more scope to extend in areas of their interest.

This is not to say that a Montessori environment is unstructured – in fact there is a strong focus on social and physical order. Rooms are designed to be beautifully presented and maintained, and are generally characterised by low noise levels. Respect for self, others and the environment is an underlying theme which guides everything about Montessori learning. Peaceful conflict resolution is another approach that is used throughout the organisation.

Since 2011, the Montessori National Curriculum has been recognised as an alternative national curriculum framework – which means it has been acknowledged by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) as delivering comparable educational outcomes for students to those based on the Australian National Curriculum.
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Educational Program and Practice

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.”  – Maria Montessori

A Montessori environment is characterised by:

  • Independence – The child must be able to become physically independent of the adult so that they may be able to choose and decide things for themselves.
  • Indirect preparation – Although activities are prepared with their own developmental aim in mind they also prepare for something that will come later in the child’s development.
  • Order – Relates to the materials, physical order, social order, the consistency of the adults and their approach, the order of presentation.
  • Choice – The child must have the opportunity to choose what they do from a range of activities that are suitable to his developmental needs.
  • Freedom – To choose, to work for as long as they want to, to not work, to work without being interrupted by other children or by the constraints of a timetable etc. – as long as their activity does not interfere with other children’s right and freedom to do the same.
  • Mixed Age Range – A community with at least a three year age range allows for children to learn from each other in a non-competitive atmosphere and directly prepares the child for living in society.
  • Movement – The child’s free movement allows them to exercise their freedom to bring themselves into contact with the things and people in their environment that they need for their development.
  • Control of Error – The environment and in particular the materials should be prepared in a way that allows the child to become aware of their mistakes and to correct them for themselves so that they understand that it is all right to be wrong and that we can learn from our mistakes.
  • Materials – The materials that we choose for the environment must act as keys to the child’s development and we need to prepare the environment with this in mind. The keys we choose will be directed by the child’s essential developmental needs at each age range.
  • Role of the Adult – The role of this adult is not like the teacher in a traditional environment, whose role is to teach the children. The role of the adult in a Montessori environment is to facilitate the child to teach themselves by following their own internal urges that will lead them to take what they need from the things and people around them.
  • Montessori National Curriculum – An approved learning framework informs the development of the programs and practices to enhance each child’s learning and development. Educators are focused on delivering the approved Montessori curriculum with authenticity and integrity, whilst engaging in reflective practice in the design and delivery of an individualised educational program for each child.

Beechworth Montessori School aims to:

  • Provide an authentic Montessori education to children enrolled in the 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12 year old programs.
  • Deliver a Montessori educational program with integrity.
  • Comply with the requirements of the Montessori Curriculum as accredited by the relevant agencies.

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Children’s Health and Safety

“To let the child do as he likes when he has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom.” – Maria Montessori

Freedom and choice within a Montessori context is not freedom for children to do whatever they like, whenever they like. Freedom is freedom with boundaries. An analogy of a river can be used to describe what freedom should look like in a Montessori classroom.

Imagine sitting on a warm, sunny day beside a beautiful river, with the water running freely over the rocks. This is like the beauty of a child, working freely on work they had chosen themselves from their individual program and how beautiful it is to sit quietly and observe this deep concentration. Then imagine the raging torrent and destructive force of a river in flood; how it breaks its banks and sweeps everything before it, destroying everything in its wake. This force can be likened to the child in a classroom that has no boundaries (no banks like the river in flood). A river, contained within its banks is a thing of peace, of beauty, but a river which breaks free from its banks is destructive and negative.

If we think about the child in this context, they are a beautiful thing when guided and contained, with respectful boundaries in place so they know what is expected of them. In the case of a child who has no boundaries, no rules, they become disruptive, lack concentration and we do not see the beauty within.

Beechworth Montessori School aims to:

  • Promote each child’s health – socially, emotionally, physically, spiritually.
  • Protect children with a promotion within the school community of the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Embed health, safety and physical activity in the educational program.

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Physical Environment

“The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult.” – Maria Montessori

The Montessori environment is a vibrant community of children that reinforces the child’s independence and natural urge toward self development. When the environment offers freedom of use, with resources and opportunity to lead the child to activity, the child will create their own experiences.

Beechworth Montessori School is committed to providing indoor and outdoor environments that are beautiful, ordered and accessible. The outdoor learning environment is an extension of the classrooms and must be inclusive, reflecting the Montessori philosophy of the prepared environment.

Active involvement of the school community and hands-on engagement are integral to the development and maintenance of the outdoor spaces. The Beechworth Montessori School has a master plan for capital expenditure that enables the future development and maintenance of the physical environment.

Beechworth Montessori School aims to:

  • Provide a safe, Montessori influenced and sustainable environment for the school community.
  • Maintain and develop buildings and grounds to meet the needs of current and future students, staff and families.
  • Encourage students, staff and users of the facilities to take pride in their surroundings and engage in sustainable practices through shared responsibility.

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Staffing

“To aid life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself, that is the basic task of the educator.” – Maria Montessori

In a Montessori classroom the place of the traditional teacher is held by a fully trained Montessori director or directress. Montessori directors have a teaching qualification as well as an additional Montessori teacher education diploma. The director is a guide or facilitator whose task it is to support the young child in his or her process of self- development. The director is foremost an observer, unobtrusively yet carefully monitoring each child’s development, recognising and interpreting each child’s needs, allowing them to develop self confidence and inner discipline.

The director provides a link between the child and the prepared environment, introducing the child to each piece of equipment when he or she is ready in a precise, clear and enticing way. On a broader level the director provides a link between the classroom and the parent, providing each child’s parents with information regarding their child’s progress. The teacher sets the example. They should to be: calm, consistent, courteous and caring. The most
important attribute of a director is the love and respect they hold for each child’s total being.

“The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.” – Maria Montessori

Beechworth Montessori School aims to:

  • Acknowledge staff as one of the key ingredients in the provision of excellent education.
  • Employ staff that are respectful, ethical and support Montessori philosophy.
  • Recruit and retain teachers, assistants and ancillary staff of the highest calibre.
  • Provide a professional and supportive workplace which encourages staff to grow personally and professionally.
  • Provide staffing arrangements that enhance children’s learning.

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Relationships with Children

“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.” – Maria Montessori

Montessori is a secular education system, in that no particular religion is taught as part of the curriculum, but that all religions, and all peoples are respected. Respect is a key component in a Montessori classroom – respect for the child, respect for the environment, respect for others and respect for oneself.

Religion is looked at from a cultural and sociological point of view. Children are invited to explore the cultures throughout the world and can see that there are many different religions. The celebration of holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, and Chinese New Year, which are religious in origin, are experienced on a cultural level as special days of family feasting, merriment, and wonder.

Moral and spiritual themes such as love, kindness, joy, and confidence are the fundamental basis for life. The child is encouraged to begin the journey toward being fully alive and fully human, in a climate of a lifelong love of learning.

A child is who is ‘normalised’ naturally displays spiritual attributes/qualities that are the foundation of their true nature. They display acts of kindness, unconditional love, joy, honesty, confidence and a sensitivity to others once their own individual needs are met.

Beechworth Montessori School aims to:

  • Provide leadership opportunities for children.
  • Support children to build and maintain sensitive
    and responsive relationships with others.
  • Provide opportunity for parent education in matters of parenting and Montessori education.

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Collaborative Community Relationships

“We shall walk together on this path of life; for all things are a part of the Universe, and we are all connected with each other to form one whole unity.” – Maria Montessori

Beechworth Montessori School was established through the good will of its members and a shared vision of providing opportunity for children to be educated in the Montessori way. This shared vision is based on a belief in the Montessori pedagogy and a commitment to respectful, supportive relationships with all community members in an environment of open, honest, transparent and ethical communication. An active parent community through a functioning Parents & Friends Group, enables links between the Principal, staff, parents and children.

The Parents and Friends group enables social and fundraising opportunities that support the ethos of the school and the Montessori philosophy.

Maria Montessori recognised the universality of all life and our interconnectedness.

Beechworth Montessori School aims to:

  • Acknowledge parents as partners with educators in the education of their children.
  • Collaborate with other organisations to enhance children’s learning and well- being.
  • Seek opportunities for development via engagement with the wider community; local, national, international.
  • Create awareness of how the world is connected whether directly or indirectly to the child and that what we do affects the lives of others.

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Leadership and Service Management

“It is responsibility that a leader should feel, not the authority of his position.” – Maria Montessori

The Principal and Committee of Management will be Montessori orientated and understand the specific aspects of the Montessori pedagogy whilst maintaining compliance in an educational climate of increasing accountability. Effective leadership promotes a positive organisational culture and builds a professional learning community. Administrative systems enable the effective management of a quality service through enabling continuous improvement. The Committee of Management and Principal will make informed and ethical decisions that advance the current and future development of the school.

Beechworth Montessori School aims to:

  • Engage in best practice governance, business and administration practices.
  • Ensure financial accountability and transparency.
  • Ensure the school is in a sound financial position.
  • Ensure the ongoing financial viability of the school.
  • Ensure compliance with State and Federal Government regulations.
  • Apply for and maintain Montessori Quality Assurance .

Peek inside a Montessori classroom:


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Links

Independent Schools Victoria website:

ISV-website

Superwoman was already here:

Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Montessori Australia Foundation: 

MA-website

Trevor Eissler: “Montessori Madness”

 

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