Prince George is heading to a Montessori nursery — but what does that actually mean?
What is Montessori?
Basically, advocates say it is about focusing on the needs of the child.
“A lot of education places are about filling heads with knowledge and teacher-perceived needs. We shouldn’t expect all children to develop at the same pace,” Montessori Australia Foundation principal Christine Harrison told the ABC.
Montessori schools are known for their liberal approach to education, which can include mixed-age classrooms, self-directed activity and collaborative play.
Early childhood professor Susan Walker said the philosophy, originally formed for street children in Italy based on survival skills, varied from country to country.
She said the main difference with Montessori and traditional education was the focus on independent work, rather than group work.
Are teachers involved very much?
Adults are involved — but to an extent.
“I like the word ‘guide’,” Ms Harrison said.
“Children follow certain developmental paths, so the adults guide them and understand their developmental needs — they give them more freedom rather than impose maths and English.”
She said it was about allowing children to discover things for themselves, to build confidence and self-discipline.
Wouldn’t this cause chaos?
Professor Walker said the Montessori system would be suited to certain children, but possibly not others.
“It depends on the child, different types [of education] suit different children,” she said.
“Montessori suits children who are good at self-regulation.”
She said it was important for parents to research a place that best suited their child.