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Our Philosophy

Developing a Strong and Positive Self-Esteem


First and foremost, we aim to help each child in our care develop a strong and positive self-esteem. A positive self-esteem is empowering; it serves as an essential foundation as it guides people’s choices, emotions, relationships and overall wellbeing and success in their life. Self-esteem is built from a combination of the following factors:

  • A sense of personal and interpersonal security.

  • A sense of social belonging.

  • A sense of trustworthiness and responsibility.

  • A sense of personal capability.

  • A sense of influence, contribution and purpose.

  • A strong identity.


We believe that the reason Montessori is so successful is because all elements of its philosophy and practice hold building the child’s self-esteem at their core. We have summarised some of these most important elements of our philosophy into the following mnemonic ('MONTESSORI').

How we do this

Make sure the child is at the centre

The child’s needs come first and foremost, above those of the adult. We support inclusive practices and work to ensure children are not discriminated against. As advocates for the child, we need to stand up for child rights, act in their best interests and be proponents of ‘best practice’. This includes sharing, collaborating with and educating families and can also include partnering with external professionals or agencies and helping to educate early childhood students, professionals and the broader community. Collaborative partnerships work best when they are based upon honesty, trust and respect and share the common goal of best supporting the child.


When a child senses they are at the centre, they will build their sense of security, belonging and trust; and thus their self-esteem.


Observe, understand and love the child

Montessori calls this ‘following the child’. We take time to listen to, understand, love and cherish each child for the individual they are, discovering their natural tendencies, emerging competencies, interests and strengths. We use this understanding to inform our practice, helping us to best meet each child where they are and support and guide their learning from there.


When a child senses they are understood, loved and responded to, they will build their sense of security, belonging, responsibility and identity; and thus their self-esteem.


Nurture the character

Research shows that early childhood is a significant time for children to learn and develop the character strengths (also known as virtues) that will form the foundation of a strong identity and help to predict a child’s success in life. There are four main classes of virtues - civic, moral, performance and intellectual. In our environment, virtues are ‘taught, caught and sought’. If children are supported to practise virtues in their day-to-day experiences, they will experience their benefits and will integrate these great human qualities into their self-concept.


Learning character strengths builds all factors that contribute to a strong self-esteem.


Teach for the future

Maria Montessori said “the child is both a hope and a promise for mankind”. The generation we are teaching will be the next caretakers of the world. They are inheriting a world with a greater human population than ever before, with a multitude of preexisting serious, and in some cases dire, environmental and humanitarian concerns. More than any generation before them, they need to understand that they are global citizens with responsibilities to other people, to humanity in general and to the environment. Montessori is an education for peace and sustainability, for the future of our world.


When a child understands this, it builds their sense of belonging, of being trusted, of influence, contribution and of purpose; and thus their self-esteem.


Encourage a love for learning

Montessori does this through:

  • Fun, developmentally appropriate activities and a curriculum that is flexible, individually paced and responsive to each child's interests and needs.

  • Active, hands-on learning with manipulatable materials that allow concepts to be introduced, explored and understood in concrete ways.

  • Making learning ‘easy’ by understanding the logical steps involved in learning and breaking these down into individual activities that children can practise and master; by embedding hidden preparation for later learning into earlier activities and by understanding and responding to sensitive periods in which a child finds it easier to learn.

  • Using self-correcting activities that reduce the fear of getting something 'wrong', so children are more willing to explore and ‘try’.

  • Protecting a child’s sense of order so they may feel safe and secure to learn.

  • Protecting a child’s need for concentration, so that where possible, engaged learning moments are not interrupted and broken.

  • A multi-age classroom that encourages peer learning. This includes opportunities for observation, imitation, peer tutoring and collaborative learning experiences. Research shows that peer learning has both academic and social benefits that not only apply to both tutor and tutee, but that also extend across time and topics. Children love to learn from and teach each other!


In Montessori, the child is not taught, but learns how to learn. Developing a love of learning helps to build a child’s sense of being trusted; of capability; of influence, contribution and purpose; a strong identity as a clever, capable learner; and thus a strong self-esteem.


Support each child to thrive in ALL areas of development

In Montessori, learning is holistic and occurs across all developmental areas - social, emotional, fine motor, gross motor, language/communication and cognitive. Montessori embodies what is now considered ‘developmentally appropriate practice’, which in turn is considered ‘best practice’ by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Montessori supports holistic development through a sound understanding of:

  • Child development from biological, socio-cultural and educational perspectives.

  • Where each individual child is at, within each area of their development.

  • The learning sequence and how to work within Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development.

In addition to this understanding, Montessori is then able to support each child to learn and develop at their own level and own pace, across all developmental areas. Children have the freedom to develop AND the right tools for development. Under these circumstances, children will not only learn, but thrive.


When a child is supported to thrive holistically, it builds all factors that contribute to a strong self-esteem.



Broadly, self-efficacy refers to self-belief - how much you believe in yourself and your own abilities to perform a task and/or reach a goal. There are four recognised sources of self-efficacy: Positive emotional and physiological states; mastery experiences (personal experiences of success); vicarious experiences of social models (seeing a peer or role model experience success); verbal encouragement (from others and through positive self-talk); and imagination/visualisation.

Montessori builds self-efficacy by:

  • Giving children the freedom to identify and attend to their basic needs so that they are then in a positive emotional and physiological state for learning. This includes, but is not limited to, allowing a child the freedom to eat when they are hungry; to rest or sleep when they are tired and to seek human interaction when they are lonely.

  • Ensuring that each child feels safe, supported and encouraged to learn and try new things through respectful relationships in which each child is treated as unique, capable and full of potential and through giving ‘just the right amount’ of support and encouragement as required.

  • Understanding how to use Montessori’s well-sequenced curriculum that breaks learning down into manageable, bite-sized activities, which allow children to progress at their own pace, work within Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development and achieve frequent mastery experiences.

  • Multi-age classrooms that support peer learning and thus vicarious experiences.


Self-efficacy builds a child’s sense of capability; of being trusted; of responsibility, influence, contribution and purpose; a strong identity; and thus a strong self-esteem.


Offer a sense of community

Our classroom community is a small representation of our larger society. After their home environment, it is often a child’s first experience of the broader community to which they belong. Experiencing a strong sense of community builds all factors that contribute to a strong self-esteem.

Montessori does this through:

  • Providing an environment in which expectations are clear and consistent. In fact, we believe that in early childhood, ‘consistency is key’. This allows children to trust that they are safe and secure, assisting in their sense of belonging and giving them confidence to function more freely.

  • Helping each child to feel loved and respected for who they are (see above).

  • Providing a multi-age classroom. This more accurately reflects an authentic community group. It allows younger children to model more advanced skills from their slightly older peers, whilst older children develop pride in their more advanced skills and a sense of social responsibility as they help to care for and teach their slightly younger peers.

  • Supporting the building of social-emotional skills so our children can interact effectively to form better, deeper relationships, learn how to balance their own rights, needs and feelings with those of others and function as a more valued member within the community. In Montessori environments, there is a significant focus on helping children to develop such social-emotional skills through both intentional teaching of ‘grace and courtesy’, responsive teaching in moments where support is needed and application of the positive discipline principles.

  • Supporting children to have independence and agency (see below).

  • Supporting children to contribute. This occurs naturally within our classroom as children learn the expectations of the classroom; develop their ‘practical life skills’; and develop their sense of responsibility to our community. Contribution is a core human need and helps each child to feel valued, enhancing their sense of belonging.

  • Supporting children to feel responsible. As children learn the expectations of the community; develop their social-emotional and practical life skills; learn the concept of ‘freedom within limits’; gain joy from contributing and earning trust, they naturally develop a sense of responsibility. Children who learn responsibility have a greater sense of belonging and purpose; develop better social-emotional skills and learn how to be more in control of their life for greater happiness and success.

  • Where possible, applying democratic processes to decisions that involve larger groups.


Recognise children as competent and capable learners

90% of a child’s brain develops by the time they are five years old. Young children develop brain connections through positive interactions and everyday experiences. The amount of quality care, stimulation and interaction they receive makes a difference to the quality of their brain architecture, which provides the foundation for their behaviour, learning and health into their future.


We recognise that young children have an innate capacity for learning and a strong desire to learn. The Montessori philosophy recognises the concepts of the ‘absorbent mind’ and ‘sensitive periods’ in children between the ages of zero and six years old. The absorbent mind describes the way in which children are able to learn from the environment with the greatest ease and without fatigue. Sensitive periods are defined as transient periods during development in which a child is intensely and instinctively driven to practise a particular skill, concept or task.


We believe in the importance of responding to the absorbent mind and sensitive periods, so that the child experiences learning in positive ways - such that it is natural, easy, fun and fast. Having the freedom to follow a sensitive period also brings a great sense of calm and satisfaction to the child. Due to this, we believe that if a child is developmentally ready to learn something, their learning should not be capped based on artificial constructs such as their chronological age or a classroom curriculum that is developed for a group and not for the individual.


Independence and agency

Montessori is considered ‘an education for independence’. The philosophy recognises the evolutionary and developmental drives for a young child to become independent, and then to exercise this independence. This is linked to the modern concept of agency; the ability to make choices and decisions to influence events and to have an impact on one’s world, which is now recognised as a child’s right (Early Years Learning Framework; UN Convention on the Rights of the Child).


Montessori recognises that independence is developed through experiences that the child has upon the environment. The young child is working to develop their independence in many different areas - physical independence; communicative independence; independence of will and independence of thought.


Montessori supports children to develop their independence and agency through concepts such as:

  • The prepared environment. In Montessori, we consider the environment as the child’s first teacher. The child learns through experiences in their environment (auto-education). Thus, the first role of the educator is not to teach, but to help the environment become the best teacher it can be. We put our love and attention into the environment and continually modify it in response to our observations, so that the prepared environment is always interesting, engaging and responsive to the developmental needs of the children within it.

  • Careful observation of the child and removing obstacles ‘which can impede a child’s normal development’.

  • Building of communication and literacy skills in our 'language-rich environment', in which children are exposed to a breadth of vocabulary, grammatically correct sentences, rich conversations and developmentally appropriate instruction in phonemic awareness and print recognition.

  • Building of ‘practical life skills’. Practical life skills are skills we use in day-to-day life. Young children are driven to practise such skills as they help them to develop motor skills, coordination, concentration, independence and a sense of responsibility and contribution. The main areas of practical life are care of the person and care of the environment. They are adapted to suit the developmental needs of the child, progressing to more and more complex skills as the child develops their competence. They are at the core of the Montessori curriculum.

  • Freedom within limits. Montessori realised that once a child achieves independence, ‘he can only develop normally if left free to function’. Here, freedom is seen as the ability of the child to follow their developmental needs, tendencies and special interests. This includes the requirement for freedom of movement; freedom of choice; freedom to concentrate; freedom of repetition and social freedoms (for example, to negotiate, where possible, their own social interactions, relations and problems). However, freedom in this context is not confused with free reign, and a child learns that their freedom stops where another’s begins. Young children regularly need assistance from the people around them as they learn where this invisible boundary lies.

  • The three hour work cycle, in which the child has plenty of opportunities to follow their own needs, drives and timing, as well as to practise self-motivation, initiative and decision-making skills. In this time, unnecessary large group activities and transitions are absent or minimal.

  • Recognising that the adult’s role is one of observer and facilitator. Educators follow the Montessori adage ‘help me to do it myself’ and do not rob the child of the experience. If we are truly following the child, the child must be at the centre of the experience, not the adult.


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