the children come first

A child-centred education
innovative classroom ideas

Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori was a pioneer of child-centred education, an innovator of classroom ideas and practice and continues to have a profound influence on the education of children all over the world.

As the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome and the first woman doctor in Italy, she was first drawn to children through treating children with, what today we call, children with special needs. As a trained physician she observed children as a scientist, using the classroom as her laboratory and finding ways to help them achieve their potential.

About Montessori

Following on from the success of her first ‘Children’s Houses’, Maria Montessori’s approach became recognised as a highly effective method of teaching which could be used with great success for each and every individual child. She travelled the world demonstrating her techniques, giving lectures, teaching and writing books.

Dr Montessori discovered that children learn best through doing and being happy and self- motivated, following their own inner needs. This will, she believed, promote confidence, understanding and a desire to learn more. This is similar to today’s idea that children learn through play.

She created specially designed materials to foster independence and a love of learning. Many of which you can see at The Children’s House today.

The Montessori approach

The key benefits

Montessori’s focus on the individual child allows each child to develop at their own pace, following their own individual path and needs. Through this method children at The Children’s House have access to a broader curriculum.


This is a key principle in Montessori education.  Teachers adapt and change activities to suit each individual child, rather than expecting the child to adapt to a fixed curriculum or what an adult decided should be in the room a few days earlier.

freedom to learn

Children are given the freedom to learn through ‘hands on’ experiences, investigating and exploring, developing further understanding, confidence and the motivation to learn as they do so. They are not instructed on what to learn and the teacher’s role is to facilitate the child’s learning not to transfer a fixed stock of knowledge for the child to commit to memory.

Independence and life skills

Children learn independence and life skills as we encourage them to think and do as much as they can for themselves.

We encourage Children to think, and to do things for themselves. This could be from washing their hands and getting dressed to choosing an activity for themselves to learning how to be sociable and finding out if there is another way to build that tower!

We do not know exactly what skills the children will need when they become adults in tomorrow’s world, but we can encourage them to become creative thinkers and develop an understanding of other people and cultures. This will help them to tackle and resolve future challenges.

Montessori teachers undertake a large degree of training in child development providing them with a greater knowledge of how children learn. Through observation, their understanding and respect of how children learn, each child’s current needs, the environment and activities are adapted accordingly.


At the Children’s House we have children from 2 to 6 years of age. The mixed ages within the school enables the younger ones to learn from watching the older children and the older children benefit from helping the younger ones. This is an important part of social development as well as aiding intellectual and emotional development.

Mistakes are a means of learning.  For example spilling drinks, breaking a pot or building a bridge that keeps falling down provide wonderful learning opportunities for the children to enjoy.

“I did it all by myself” is a statement the children say every day when they come running up to us with big smiles having just zipped up their coat for the first time or matched up the letter sounds with the objects. The children don’t need rewards or stickers, but develop their self-respect naturally. And children who feel self-respect, naturally learn to respect others as well

If you’d like to know more about the Montessori approach, please ask for details of books, magazines and seminars which are available.


The co-founders of Google credited their Montessori education as the main reason for their success. They said they learned to be self-directed and self-starters and were allowed to think for themselves and given the freedom to pursue their own interests.

A different approach

The Montessori Curriculum

Area of everyday living

This is an important area in the Montessori environment, particularly for new children. It includes activities that aim to provide the child with independence and confidence in the skills they need in everyday life. It includes washing hands, pouring, cutting, sewing and dressing frames.


Where children will find activities to help refine their senses.   Many of the exercises in this area are also indirect preparations for later mathematics and language work as they enable the child to order, classify, seriate and describe sensory impressions in relation to length, width, temperature, mass and colour.


Montessori believed that the child learns through having a thorough understanding of the concrete idea before the abstract. This means that the earlier materials have no symbols until counting is understood. Symbols follow this and then the two are combined to form a good understanding of number. Further maths materials include the introduction of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division as well as fractions, decimals and other complex ideas. These operations not only teach the child to calculate, but they provide a deep understanding of how numbers function.


This area begins with letter sounds and games and inset shapes. Letter sounds are taught phonetically. Words are divided into three categories; pink are three letter phonic words (cat), blue words including consonant blends (shop) and green introduce digraphs (deal). As with mathematics, sandpaper letters and the large movable alphabet provide a concrete understanding before further writing and reading work.

Knowledge and Understanding of the World

The aim of this area is to provide the child with an understanding of the world around them; from the make-up of the planet to geographical features of the world, nature, science ideas such as sinking and floating and magnetism. This area will often involve activities staff have prepared especially for the child’s specific interest; if a child has a special interest in space for example, the teacher will endeavour to provide the child with suitable activities to encourage and aid learning in this subject.


This area of learning is throughout the classroom as children are encouraged to think creatively in all areas. We also offer opportunities for children to create for example painting, sticking, cooking, music and movement and drama.

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