Montessori Best Practices

A MONTESSORI CHECKLIST FOR ENVIRONMENTS CATERING TO 2 1/2 YEARS TO 6 YEARS

THE ADULT

The adult should be trained and certified by a recognised Montessori training institute.

She should :
exhibit a genuine love for children.
be able to communicate comfortably and respectfully with the children, talk to them at eye level and share their joy for learning.
be observant and patient.

CLASSROOM MAKE UP

Full Day Program:
Early Childhood Programs for children between the ages of three to six years should be offered the opportunity to stay at school for the entire day, wherein the children can spend the entire day in the same class, remaining in the same environment, with the same community of children and adults. The aim is consistency. As part of any full day program for early childhood age children, time and space should be provided for children who need to rest quietly or sleep during the afternoons. Accommodations for resting can be made in many ways including quiet space in the main classroom, an adjoining room, an alcove, etc. Whether a child sleeps or rests quietly, they should be allowed to re-enter the work area as they are ready.

Adult to Child Ratio:
The International Montessori Council recommends the following maximum ratios of adults to children and group sizes: Early Childhood (2 1/2 to 6 years) 1 adult to 15 children with a maximum group size of 30.

Mixed-Age Groupings:
The School groups children in learning environments with mixed-age groups, traditionally covering a three-year span, based on the planes of development identified by Dr. Montessori, from the early childhood level onward. They are not separated at any point through the day and live and work as a community. Children remain together for more than one school year, with typically only the older students who are developmentally ready moving on to the succeeding environment.

Un-interrupted Blocks of Time:
There should be an uninterrupted block of time of at least 3 hours, wherein there are no arbitrary time breaks and time tables, during which the children are free to chose their work and engage in them for as long as they like.

LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

Montessori learning environments for the 2 ½ to 6 year olds include:

All the following curriculum areas – exercises of practical life, sensorial activities, language, mathematics, art, music, geography, botany, zoology, history, science areas.

Area for food preparation and / or cooking facilities that are used as a part of the curriculum.

A classroom library collection which the children have free and easy access to.

A classroom that provides independence to the child to work, move and live independently. It is not ‘child-proofed’, which is done more for the benefit of the management, rather than the child. Instead, children should be guided through logical presentations of the various materials around them, which should include objects made from natural materials, like wood and glass. The environment should demonstrate respect for the child.

Especially at the early childhood level, Montessori learning environments do not have unnecessary distractions on the walls, such as an alphabet running along the wall, dozens of identical art projects, chalk boards or large bulletin board displays. Instead it should be a place of tastefully chosen objects and art, which are calming and conducive to work and reflection.

Should include a safe and accessible outdoor space, which has been specially prepared to act as an extension of the indoor learning environment.

All areas in the environment both indoor and out door should be kept in perfect order at all time of day. This would mean avoiding clutter, dust and restoring order frequently. This is essential as a child between 2 ½ and 6 is extraordinarily sensitive to order.

THE MATERIALS

Are arranged neatly on low shelves, where everything has a place, and provides independent handling.

Are attractively displayed and in good condition. There is a lot of attention to detail, as children in early childhood are sensitive to detail.

Are arranged in a logical sequence, going from simple to more complex.

The adult should “rotate in” supplementary materials and lessons in a regular and logical manner, which compliment rather than detract from the Montessori materials. She should be able to justify their placement in the classroom.

PARENT INVOLVEMENT

The school should encourage parents to observe in their child’s environment.

There should be provision for a parent education program.

There should be opportunity for the parents to volunteer and help build the community.

References:
Adapted from :
The International Montessori Council – Best Practices
The International Montessori Council Checklist – For Teachers
Montessori Unlimited – checklist

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