Oaks Park first and foremost sets out to deliver outstanding childcare. The philosophy with which we do this is very much underpinned by the eight learning principles of Dr. Maria Montessori. In our words, reflecting Montessori principles, at Oaks Park we:
Respect the child - Children have a natural potential. Despite being small they have a lot to learn yet a significant mental capability to do so. Children who are respected as a capable grow up to have stronger self-esteem than children who have their every need met for them. As children are treated with respect, they then learn to treat other people and their environment with respect.
Follow the child - Children have a desire to learn. Our role as adults should be to observe and provide them the right environment in which to learn. Children move towards activities of interest, or learning need, that they have at the time. When a child has mastered activities remove them and replace with new ones.
Help the child to do it themselves - We have been led to think that a child’s confidence and self-esteem is built from external influences such as positive words or encouragement from well-meaning adults. In fact, the opposite is true; it comes from within the child when they experience the sense of satisfaction from independently mastering a task. This makes them feel capable and confident.
Provide freedom within limits - Let children choose which activity they want to work on, when and for how long. Let them move around without limitations. At the same time though, ensure that they follow the ground rules to keep order and to prevent harm, offense or disruptions to others. Every other behaviour or expression is absolutely fine.
Help only when needed - Only intervene and help a child when they ask for it, and then only do the minimum required to get them on track to successfully complete the task at hand. Do not take away the child’s learning opportunity. Children learn by doing and get satisfaction from the process not just a correctly completed outcome.
Repeat, repeat, repeat! - Children learn by doing. They need to practice each new skill until they are satisfied that they can do it. To enable children to this they should be able to choose their own work and to allow them to work on it for as long as they wish. The number of times a child repeats an activity, depends both on the child and the type of activity.
Don’t interrupt - Concentration needs to be learnt. At first, a toddler may only be able to concentrate on an activity for half a minute, but if allowed to, this concentration will naturally grow to one minute, then two minutes and so on. A child should left to finish what they are doing before asking them to do something else. Resist talking to them, commenting on what they are doing or even saying something positive. All are enough to break their concentration.
Provide order and tidiness - Keep a child’s environment ordered and tidy, with child size appropriate furniture. This will make the room accessible and aesthetically pleasing to the child. Allocate places in the room for each activity. Encourage children to work on one activity at a time and to return items to the correct place before choosing another activity to work on. Children enjoy a sense of order. A calm predictable environment and clear expectation of them makes children feel safe.
Dr. Maria Montessori was first and foremost a scientist. By observing children of all ages and backgrounds she came to understand how children learn. She observed that children naturally want to learn and from her observations developed her set of eight key learning principles.