Now that Small + Bright has been up and running for a few weeks, I thought it was about time I sat down and actually explained what we are all about. Montessori is a recurring theme throughout all of our boxes and I've mentioned it more than a few times on social media but, how does this traditional educational approach apply to babies and toddlers? Surely Montessori is all about pre-schoolers sitting down at tables, working on their numbers and letters?
I had this kind of perception about Montessori too. Despite the fact that I have been teaching for many years, it was only when I went back to studying and qualified as a Montessori teacher a few years ago, that I began to understand that Montessori education is not just an educational method used in exclusive nurseries; it is actually a whole different way of looking at how people learn and applies from birth to the age of twenty four (that's years, not months!). This is when the first tiny seeds of an idea began for me and, five years later (I like to plan!) I produced my first box.
What exactly is "Montessori"?
When people talk about "doing Montessori", they are referring to an educational theory developed by Dr Maria Montessori , an Italian physician who began her work with young children over a hundred years ago, she came up with several theories about how children learn after observing them playing. Her starting point was always based on what children do naturally without adult intervention and she discovered that they have a natural instinct to explore and seemed driven by a need to challenge themselves. Respecting this inner motivation, she suggested that children will, in fact, teach themselves providing they are provided with the right conditions, which are:
1. TIME to explore and experiment;
2. FREEDOM to move and make choices;
3. RESPECT from others who acknowledge they are strong and capable;
4. MATERIALS to learn from which address a specific skill or piece of knowledge;
5. ADULTS who can direct learning but then let the child try for themselves without interference;
6. AGE/STAGE APPROPRIATE EXPERIENCES which naturally appeal to children at different stages of development;
7. PRACTICAL, REAL EXPERIENCES which make play meaningful.