In Australia, children of various ages can get a Montessori education. There are childcare programs for children as young as eight weeks old and school programs for older children up to 18 years old. These programs are offered by early childhood and care services, preschools, kindergartens, and primary and secondary schools. The number of Montessori academies and programs in Australia is growing. More than 335 schools and centres now teach more than 23,300 students. Non-profit, community-based groups run most Montessori academies, but there are also more and more programs run by private companies and are part of the public schooling system.
Montessori’s philosophy of inclusiveness and excellent social skills development foster a lifelong love of learning for the child. This focus on inclusiveness is usually done by following the child’s development naturally. Children develop confidence, responsibility, and independence.
What is the Montessori method of teaching?
Schools worldwide are adopting Italian physician Maria Montessori’s methods for teaching children. Dr. Maria Montessori created her unique technique of educating children over a fifty-year career. The process was established by observing children from diverse ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds from birth to adulthood, based on developmental needs.
The Montessori difference is felt the moment you go into a classroom. The Montessori teacenvironment is easily recognisable compared to children’s house. You’ll find kids working on their own, in small groups, using various resources, including some that were handcrafted just for them. All of them are focused on their work and respectful of one another and their surroundings.
A fundamental Montessori idea is freedom within constraints. This idea could seem counterintuitive to new Montessori parents. Through the planning of the prepared environment, Montessori promotes freedom within bounds. It celebrates the idea that a child may be both an explorer and a self-sufficient learner.
The Montessori method emphasises scientific observations as well. It allows the adult guide to regain equilibrium and look at the child with fresh eyes.
Montessori education is student-led and self-paced, yet it is guided, assessed, and enriched by caring teachers, peer leadership, and a nurturing environment.
Independent learners follow their interests and pace as they thoroughly understand each idea and accomplish personalised own learning goals. In a Montessori academy, multi-age classrooms encourage independence, citizenship, and accountability through multi-sensory learning and enthusiastic inquiry. Montessori programmes serve children and families in isolated, indigenous Australian communities, where the concept combines with cultural enrichment of Indigenous culture and heritage.
How Does It Benefit Early Learning?
The Montessori philosophy enhances learning and development in various ways. Children who handle toys to replicate reading books have higher recall, comprehension, and numeracy skills. Manipulating items helps improve a child’s motor skills and coordination. Theoretically, Montessori students should have superior growth.
There is a Montessori activity called circle time. Circle Time is when toddlers work together and learn from each other. In classrooms, younger children look up to older classmates, while older students love the added responsibility of being the older child in kindergarten.
Through their prepared environment, different activities and philosophies, Montessori children also grow up confident, energetic, self-directed, and accountable to themselves and their community. Having self-confidence, parents can expect their children to become critical, collaborative, brave, and honest. Montessori education equips kids with the fundamentals they’ll need to thrive in life.
Principles of Montessori childcare
Maria Montessori found that a child’s first six years are the most formative. She called this stage the ‘absorbent mind’ to characterise a child’s sponge-like ability to absorb knowledge. During this stage, children learn and build their intelligence and personality and learn about their culture and environment.
All facets of children’s development and learning are crucial. Montessori education supports a holistic approach to child development; intellectually, physically, emotionally, and socially. The Montessori curriculum includes language, numeracy, practical life, sensory, and culture lessons. Children have distinct developmental needs and periods when they can gain specific knowledge and skills. She called these stages ‘sensitive times,’ or learning windows. Sensitive times feature extreme focus, repetition, dedication, and extended concentration.
Montessori planned setting in a classroom is a well-organised instructional room. Order helps children develop rational thinking. In an orderly Montessori-prepared environment, an adult or teacher will enable children to become independent learners. The physical coordination of the centre gives children the freedom to follow their interests, choose their work, and advance at their own pace.
Auto-education is another Montessori approach. It’s founded on the premise that children will self-teach at their own pace if given interesting learning stimuli. Montessori products encourage them to direct their education. Montessori teachers arrange the atmosphere, provide guidance, and encourage self-education.
Lastly, peace education fosters independent critical thinking, creative problem solving, moral principles of responsibility and respect, and peaceful conflict resolution.
What to expect in a Montessori childcare
Maria Montessori believed that the learning environment, which included teachers, experiences, and physical surroundings, could aid or hinder auto-education.
Montessori classrooms are intended to foster children’s natural desire to learn new things. It should encourage children’s natural desire to learn by allowing them to participate in spontaneous, purposeful activities with a trained adult. Through their work, children learn focus and self-discipline. Children progress at their own pace and rhythm within an orderly framework.
A Montessori preschool is designed to facilitate and encourage play-based learning as much as possible. In practice, this means getting rid of or limiting things that are overly stimulating or distracting. Parents can expect neutral-colored walls and only a few objects and works of art on display in the daycare.
A Montessori academy’s classroom is usually calm, quiet, and clean. Art is carefully selected and hung in places where children can see it, and the plants in the center are alive.
In a Montessori environment, everything has a place. In a Montessori classroom, there are various learning areas with enough space for children to move around. Natural and real-life materials and activities are used, which are properly organized and stored. All five senses are stimulated by the materials used: sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. Parents should not be concerned because children will have enough space to bring their belongings to the center.
The EYLF and Montessori
Montessori education and the Australian Government’s Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) work together to improve learning and development in young children from birth to six.
A Montessori programme can use its own teaching style with an emphasis on EYLF learning outcomes to develop children’s “Being, Belonging, and Becoming.”
The EYLF provides educators with recommendations for working with families to identify children’s interests and skills, put them into practise, and assist them as they enter primary school. It emphasises unstructured play and play-based learning approaches that take into account children’s interests.
A high-quality Montessori-based child care programme will be tailored to each child’s learning style, developmental stage, and interests by a teacher. Hands-on learning, practical application, and problem-solving assist youngsters in developing strong academic and well-being foundations.
The Montessori Curriculum enhances the EYLF by providing babies and toddlers with the ideal environment, resources, and guidance to help them attain their full potential. Montessori education encourages children to engage in hands-on learning experiences by providing educational tools that convey practical information and cultivate a love of learning.
The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) oversees the National Quality Framework (NQF), which mandates minimum qualifications for educators working in early childhood education and care services. One of them is not a master’s degree.
You can learn about the recognised qualifications and how to have your existing or foreign qualifications reviewed on the ACECQA website. To find out which Montessori courses are approved, consult the ACECQA Qualifications List.
In Australia, the following courses and training are available and recognised for teaching Montessori:
- Graduate Diploma of Education (Montessori) 3-6 years or 6-12 years focusStudents can take this course to become registered instructors in their state.
- Diploma of Early Childhood and Primary Education (Montessori) 0-3, 3-6 or 6-12 years focusIt is recognised by ACECQA as an Early Childhood qualification (0-3 and 3-6 focus). This course prepares certified teachers to teach the Montessori curriculum in their schools. Non-registered teachers who obtain this diploma are qualified to work in schools as child education assistants. Another alternative is to work in a childcare centre as a room leader or supervisor.
- Certificate in Montessori Studies 0-5 or 3-6Students with a Certificate III or Diploma level education who want to learn about Montessori curriculum in childcare centres can take this course.
- Diploma of Montessori Leadership and PracticeThis course is designed for administrators or Montessori centre managers who want to learn more about the theory, philosophy, and curriculum of a Montessori academy.