Philosophy and Environment

The program at Yarralumla Montessori is based on the educational philosophy of Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator who observed that, when given freedom to work in a carefully prepared and stimulating environment, children actively construct their own knowledge. A key element of that environment at Yarralumla Montessori is the multi-age structure which is particularly important for the social learning that is so crucial in early childhood education. The multi-age classroom can naturally become a mutually supportive small community with an atmosphere of order, independence, responsibility, respect and cooperation; it provides an easy transition for a 3-year-old from the family to the wider world. At this stage the child is striving for physical independence and responds well to the structure of the classroom and opportunities for self-direction. By following the example and modelling of other children and of staff, the child learns practical and social skills, as well as academic skills. These growing skills, along with opportunities for imaginative play and larger group music and games, all form a basis for the child's growing emotional independence - for the development of a 'self-regulated' child.

The staff plan informal and formal situations (for individuals or groups) to capitalise on the child's drive for autonomy, creating opportunities for the development of the following:

  • Physical independence and self-organisation
  • Positive self-awareness (sense of belonging, or contribution and of social worth)
  • Self-regulation of moods and control of impulses
  • Motivation, absorption and persistence in the face of frustration
  • Empathy and reading feelings of others
  • Social skills such as respect and appreciation for others, respect and appreciation for the environment (school and the world) and playing and working cooperatively
  • Learning behaviours such as self-organisation, initiative, choice and decision making, reasoning, the taking of learning risks and problem-solving, creative self-expression and curiosity and a love of learning

Montessori Front View

The environment at Yarralumla Montessori Villa is characterised by the following:

  • A relaxed and welcoming ambiance for children, families, staff and visitors
  • Child-centred, a sense that it belongs to the children
  • An atmosphere of security, respect, happiness and humour
  • The hum of constructive activity with children absorbed in a variety of activities
  • A sense of 'order' - structure, consistency and time in the physical environment with routines designed to support learning, practice and refinement
  • Evidence that the children have opportunities for and are encouraged towards independence
  • Opportunity for tasks which are drawn from everyday life, using skills purposefully
  • Opportunity for tasks which allow choice, mobility, exploration, creative expression, perseverance and appropriate challenge
  • Good relationships - interactions between all classroom members, children and adults which show mutual care, respect and appreciation
  • Adults who are sensitive and unobtrusive, observing, facilitating, supporting and modelling appropriate behaviours, and who are accepting, flexibly responsive and emphasise learning rather than teaching
  • Acknowledgment of diversity in levels of development, learning styles, prior experience and social and cultural background
  • Evidence of a rich program aimed at developing knowledge, skills and attitudes in each individual child and where processes are assessed and evaluated to benefit the child and for program improvement.