5 Ways to Spot an Authentic Montessori

Did you know that Montessori is not a protected term in Ireland?

Montessori has come to mean preschool or playschool in Ireland. In fact, Montessori is a teaching philosophy that dates back more than 100 years and is based on Maria Montessori’s observations of how children love to learn.


So if you are seeking an authentic Montessori, here are some things to look out for:


  1. Staff Training


Authentic Montessori schools have highly trained staff in the pure Montessori method. In Ireland this means that they have degree-level training (Level 7+) from either Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) or St Nicholas, or a similar teaching institute abroad. They will also be accredited by the Irish Montessori Education Board based on their teachers’ training, or will be affiliated with other global Montessori organisations like AMI. Drumnigh Montessori Primary School is an IMEB/AMI-recognised school and Lead Directresses (teachers) are either AMI or St Nicholas trained.


  1. The Three-Hour Work Cycle


One of the core principles of the Montessori method is the three-hour work cycle, which involves a three-hour period of uninterrupted, self-directed work. Montessori observed that a three-hour work period allowed children the opportunity to enter deeper levels of concentration, and gain a sense of satisfaction from having completed their work. Children will work with many different materials during this period but generally tackle the most challenging work later in the morning. A true Montessori teacher will never interrupt a child to join group activities if they are concentrating on individual work.

In Drumnigh, we do not provide free play socialisation time during ECCE hours to ensure that all the children have the opportunity to reach the three-hour plain of concentration. However, the Montessori method encourages children to socialise freely throughout the morning, choosing to work with or observe other children throughout this time. We also have an after school programme so children can enjoy free play together outside the three-hour work cycle.


  1. Mixed-Age Classrooms


Montessori believed in mixed-age classrooms and genuine Montessori schools will mix children in three-year age spans in ages 3-6, 6-9 and 9-12. Younger children learn from observing the older children. The older children model the behaviour expected in the classroom as well as introducing the younger children to the materials they are working with. Older children learn leadership and responsibility.

The age range of the children and the importance of child-to-child mentoring is taken into account when we organise our classes in Drumnigh. Age is not important in the Montessori classroom as each child develops differently, and friendships form regardless of the children’s ages, much like in the real world.


  1. Staff Retention


According to Early Childhood Ireland, early childhood services suffer from low staff retention and high turnover rates. People working in the sector feel “undervalued and underpaid for intellectually, emotionally and physically demanding work”. High turnover rates can have a negative impact on your child and on the school’s ability to deliver a proper Montessori programme.

Our core staff have more than 40 years’ experience here in Drumnigh. Our good reputation depends on the calibre of our staff, their training and knowledge of Montessori, and their dedication to the school and the children. We value and nurture our staff as they do the children.


  1. The Prepared Environment


A central tenet of Montessori’s programme is the “prepared environment”. A prepared environment is a well-thought-out classroom, with easily accessed materials, that entices and interests the children and fosters independence. Independence allows the children certain freedoms and Montessori refers to “freedom within limits”. The children are free to move around the classroom, to choose their work and to choose how long they work at something. A well-prepared environment ensures that the children drive their pace of learning and the classroom is calm and peaceful, with children working purposefully either in small groups or on their own. Incoming parents are usually amazed by their first classroom visits to our school. The Directresses work mostly with one child at a time, presenting new materials while the rest of the children choose their own work.

These are just five of the core values that can help you to identify an authentic Montessori school for your child. If you are interested in learning more about Drumnigh Montessori Primary School, or about the Montessori method, please fill out our enquiry form and we will be in touch shortly.

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