Saturday, 3 April 2010

Montessori Snack Time

Sarah made some great comments after I posted about allowing children freedom in my first 'Montessori in a Minute' article. (read it here). The beauty of writing on a blog is that i don't have to think on my feet........I have had a think about it and here is my considered answer!

To start with, Montessori as a way of structuring your environment is not supposed to be a prescriptive 'one size fits all' approach where Montessori is best and nothing else is worth trying.  It's not like that at all.  Montessori based her work on the earlier work of other early childhood theorists and was both a friend and colleague to others; they shared ideas and discussed each other's approaches. In particular Montessori was influenced by the work of Froebel, Pestalozzzi, Seguin and Piaget.  My point being was that Montessori 'borrowed from the best bits' of others and why shouldn't we?? I do!!  There is no way that we can recreate an ideal Montessori classroom environment at home, and we shouldn't be either, it is a home, and one of our unique selling points as childminders is that we offer homely care!  Even in Montessori schools, nurseries and classrooms there are myriad different expressions of Montessori, driven by the interprestation of the adult involved, and built around the needs of the children.

So........ snacktime....... the 'ideal' is that children self-regulate and help themslef to an appropriate sized snack at an appropriate time, but in reality, most children will need guiding, whether that is to take an appropriate amount, to actually have some snacks in the first place, to sit at a table to eat it, and more!  Young children act impulsively; if they want to eat all the snack, then they will!

The two most important things that I take from Montessori ideas about snack times, is that they support independence and that they are a sociable time! With independence, the children can cut up fruit, spread butter and jam on bread, pour their own drink, set the table etc.  The sociable side is that children help one another, talk with each other and with adults and experience the pleasure of being together.  I think that Sarah's description of her snack time sounds really lovely, it is what works for the children in your care that is best!

I will try to find some ideas from around the web to add for those that want to see some more ideas for how it could work if they want to try a more individual approach in their setting.


  1. A good reason for doing rainbows at this time of year is that you are more likely to see a genuine one in April with all the sunshine and showers.

    Lots of National Trust properties and garden centres have frog and butterfly lifecycles in various rubbery styles at this time of year.

  2. it is correct that Montessori was borrowing something from Seguin, perhaps not so much from others... and yes. even Montessori as a method is not a template that can be used for everyone.
    Teaching "templates" and calling them a teaching methods are typical for traditional/industrial. Montessori method of teaching is completely different approach which is focusing on developmental needs of a single child. Montessori is giving a guidance about how to help child, and provide suitable environment that will support child development. As such, Montessori method is first one that was based not only om philosophical approach and thesis but is based on child observations, observations that were conduct in scientific way, and focusing on child with respect. Method it self is providing exactly this what child needs from his developmental point of view, not like in other methods, where someone was just spin conclusions just in theory without looking even for a child; Montessori in my opinion was one of the firs, if not the firs that break the traditional way of thinking when the adult was giving what he thinks that child needs... thats why education in traditional educational systems starts around age 6, when adults believes that child mentally, finally is able to acquire some real knowledge...
    Lets compare Montessori to cooking ;-)
    if you have traditional Chinese dish that you have to cook according to old traditional recipe then, only then you can have a truly real Chinese dish, if you add some western approach in technique and adding some African spices, you may have a interesting dish, but will not be any more Chinese...
    (pardon my English as I am in phase of learning)