This is Nicola, a member of the childmindinghelp forum who contacted me about Montessori. She came to visit me to see some of the Montessori materials that I have and talk about how both she and I use it in our settings. It set me thinking about how to write on here about Montessori, and I'm finding it hard because once you talk about one part of the theory, then you have to explain another bit and the whole thing just snowballs into something that sounds very complicated when it isn't! So here is what I'm going to do: I'm going to break the essential parts of the philosophy down into bitesize chunks and post about them individually, making them relevant to childminding and adding links and suggestions for implementing it in your setting.
Funnily enough, even though Montessori developed her theory a hundred years ago, there is a lot of it in the EYFS - look here for a document written by Montessori Centre International (MCI), a training college in London. The director of that college, a wonderful lady by the name of Barbara Isaacs worked together with the editor of the EYFS to produce this and it would make a good starting point if you are interested in following the Montessori story with me!
As we go on, you will also start to recognise aspects of the Montessori materials in popular children's toys - you probably have many of them in your setting right now and didn't realise their origins!!! Take the knobbed cyclinders below for example, do the buttons on top of the cylinders look familiar? Got any wooden shape puzzles on your shelves? there you go!!! The cylinders themselves are part of the sensorial materials in Montessori, but the button on top helps to develop a child's hand strength for writing as they hold it with a 'tripod grip' in three fingers also. More of that later!
As a final incentive for looking further into Montessori, although it may seem like more hard work to start with, it can actually make your job as a childminder easier, because there is an emphasis on developing independence and care for the surroundings! I hope you'll come back for more and comment as we go.... I will answer all the questions I get to the best of my ability!!!!