Key differences to state primary schools

Planes of Development

The Planes of Development is the holistic framework that Dr Montessori used to build her vision of developmental psychology. It encompasses:

  • The First Plane: Early Childhood (birth to age 6).
  • The Second Plane: Childhood (age 6-12).
  • Third Plane: Adolescence (age 12-18).
  • The Fourth Plane: Maturity (age 18-24). 

It’s referred to as a holistic framework because the Montessori curriculum and community promote the development of the whole child: physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual.

 

Children usually come to Mahurangi Montessori Primary at age six, where they transition into their Second Plane of Development, having completed the First Plane at their Montessori pre-school.

Teachers as Guides

Montessori teachers are often referred to as Guides because it’s their job to guide each child along their own learning path. They act as consultants to children on a one-on-one basis using a set of Montessori methods.

 

Quiet Observation is a method that allows a Guide to learn about a child from a scientific and objective perspective and to recognise Teachable Moments: times when a child is ready, eager and open to discovery. When a Teachable Moment arises, a Guide demonstrates something new to a child – this is called a Presentation. Presentations act as hooks to draw a child toward a particular learning material.

 

Conferencing is another method that allows a Guide to check in with a child regularly, to look at their balance of work and find out how they’re doing.

 

This personalised style of teaching provides Montessori children with more individual attention than any other system of education.

Self-learning structure

Our children choose their own work each day, and there are no set times for subjects. Each child progresses at their own pace and chooses work that captures their interest and attention. They can choose to work alone or in groups. Our Guides strive to capture the children’s interest in new areas of enquiry (subjects) so that over time they cover the complete curriculum. This self-learning approach results in children who are self-motivated rather than teacher-motivated, and who develop a lifetime love of learning.

Self-correcting hands-on learning materials

Beautiful hands-on Montessori materials support the self-learning structure and help our children to literally see and explore complex and abstract concepts. The equipment is self-correcting (rather than having a teacher correct errors) and offers systematically graduated lessons which usually isolate one principle at a time. This gives children the opportunity to keep succeeding, with each new step mastered at their own pace. 

Mixed age classrooms and consistent teaching staff

Mixed age classrooms also support the self-learning structure and teach children that everyone’s contribution is valued. Younger children look up to older ones, which gives older students an opportunity to be mentors. Having the same classmates and Guides all the way through primary school promotes a sense of community and stability, which allows our children to develop solid relationships. 

Cosmic Education (the big picture) Curriculum

While facts can hold a child’s interest, it’s the “why” that really grabs their attention. The Montessori curriculum, referred to as Cosmic Education, introduces most subjects through a series of connected stories designed to spark a child’s imagination. Primary children are still developing their logical reasoning skills, and a Montessori education provides a coherent whole-view rather than a mix of unrelated bits of information.

Three-hour work cycle

Our children have long uninterrupted work cycles which allow them to fully immerse themselves in their work and develop a deeper level of concentration and satisfaction when the work is completed. Three-hour work cycles give them the opportunity to choose complex work over work that only requires superficial involvement.

No homework, tests or National Standards (most of the time)

Our Guides don’t set homework, but because Montessori children develop a love of learning, they often continue their work at home independently, or start a project at home and bring it into the classroom. Guides don’t assign tests, give grades or rank students, but because we’re part of a state school, the Guides do have to participate in the method of reporting chosen by Matakana School. However, most of our parents prefer to focus on the feedback given during parent/Guide meetings and how their children are thriving in the Montessori environment.