Maria Montessori

Ocean View is run according to the educational philosophy of Maria Montessori (1870 -1952). As a medical doctor, she began her teaching career working with physically and mentally handicapped children.  Her success in educating these pupils was so remarkable that it led her to question conventional methods of education, which she felt, restricted many children from achieving their full potential.  Montessori’s observations lead her to the understanding that children require enriched environments and stimulation from birth to six years in order to prepare the path for all later learning. She opened her first school, the ‘Casa dei Bambini” in Rome in 1907.

Maria Montessori named the phase of the child’s life from birth to three, ‘THE SPIRITUAL EMBRYONIC PHASE.  She used this term to describe the process of development in which the new-born comes into the world and emerges as an individual.  This is when the young child needs a very positive and nurturing environment, and  why we ensure that our Toddler group  provides a ‘home away from home.’

THE SOCIAL EMBRYONIC PHASE’ of development, from 3 – 6 years is when the child  is ready to enter the pre-school.  The child is now ready for a wider range of friendships and is more content to be away from close family. Learning can become more structured and language develops rapidly as the child absorbs everything like a sponge – s/he has, what Montessori described as an ABSORBENT MIND.  The importance of early education cannot be underestimated and the Montessori Method achieves this through a dynamic relationship between the child, the teacher and the learning environment. This continues throughout all subsequent phases of education and is still very evident in the primary phase.


Although considered revolutionary at the time, recent findings in developmental psychology and neuroscience have confirmed the value of Montessori education, giving momentum to an increasing awareness amongst parents and teachers.  Past pupils of Montessori Schools are independent, motivated and confident and this has certainly been our experience at Ocean View since 1993.

The Montessori Child

Montessori had a very clear and fresh vision of what  children need to allow for full and healthy development.  Her original findings are now supported by neuroscience.  It is very clear that a Montessori education really works for  brain development, not just by filling it with knowledge, but in helping to manage knowledge and actions effectively.  Neuroscientists now understand the function of the Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC) in the human brain and describe it as a person’s CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER,’ controlling what is done, and when. A well-developed PFC allows an individual to concentrate, plan, predict, monitor, adjust and persist.  These vital skills and abilities are now often referred to as EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS. The Montessori Method promotes the development of such functions, originally referred to as the NORMALISATION of the child. According to Montessori, the attributes of the normalised child should include: the ability to concentrate, a love of work, self discipline and positive social behaviour.  This is what we strive for with each of our pupils, serving their individual needs and working hand in hand with families.

The Montessori Teacher

The 2 year Diploma-level training involves modules on Montessori Philosophy and The Montessori Curriculum, child development, observation, child health and safety, educational theories and  contemporary issues and diversity in education. More than this, being a Montessori teacher is a way of life: the teacher embraces the role with humility and integrity and is ever ready to give her best to each individual child and their family.  The teacher presents exercises to the child on an individual and small group basis, working from simple to complex, at the child’s pace.  Careful record keeping and planning by the teacher ensures that progress is tracked. Our foundation phase teachers also hold B Ed Degrees and/or  PGCE in Foundation Phase Education.


The Montessori Environment and Teaching Materials

Based on her observations of how children learn, Montessori understood that a new type of learning environment was needed; one that promoted freedom of choice and movement.  This is how our classrooms are set out, and structure is given by a clear set of consistently enforced ‘ground rules’ that ensure the safety and well-being of all.  Our learning environment is beautiful and inspired by nature; it is, as Montessori described, a ‘Children’s House’.  There are quiet places to read; areas to learn and work with friends or alone; areas to create, to play, to eat and relax both indoors and outdoors. Each curriculum area has its own, specialised Montessori teaching materials, which are child-sized, real and functional.  All exercises are activity-based and the child learns to solve problems through discovery with concrete experiences.  Additional materials and resources are developed to support topic work. The curriculum content develops through the three phases of toddler, pre-school and junior primary. Take a look at our prepared environments here.


Our classroom ground rules provide a positive framework for discipline. ‘Walking carefully, talking softly, taking care of the equipment, being kind to others and remembering to share,’ are taught in age appropriate ways to each group, using role play and positive and consistent reinforcement. The older children in each group are excellent role models to their younger peers, this is one of the many benefits of having ‘vertically grouped’ environments.  The mixed age range in the Toddler, Pre-primary and Junior Primary classes facilitates  a  calm and supportive learning environment.  If a child has difficulty in following  ground rules, a positive solution, taking a holistic approach, working hand in hand with the family