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Montessori in a Nutshell

When families come to visit Little Gems Montessori Nursery I am often asked, “So, what is the difference between a Montessori school and other nurseries?” Well, being a passionate Montessori pedagogue, I love this question and can talk about it for a long time! However, for this article I have narrowed it down to a kind of 3+3 answer, that is, three obvious differences of how a Montessori classroom is run, and three top benefits of what Montessori education offers children.

3 Differences in How we Teach

1. Vertical Grouping. Traditionally we are used to children being segregated into classes of same age – 3 years old, 4 years old, 5 years old, and so on. A Montessori setting on the other hand differs as we aim to work with 3 ages simultaneously, that is, 3-6 years old children in the same classroom, referred to as vertical grouping. Vertical grouping works wonderfully as the classroom develops a family-like feeling, creating a ‘sibling’ situation where younger children look up to their older friends, and the older children take great pride in sharing their skills and knowledge with their younger peers. Respect for self & others, as well as, helpfulness is thereby fostered.

2. 3 Hours of Uninterrupted Work Cycle. Traditionally schools break up their day into several shorter group activities such as: ½ hour literacy, maths, music, art etc. At Little Gems Montessori Nursery we differ in this approach as we instead offer a 3-hour uninterrupted workcycle to our children. With careful guidance and individual attention from their teachers the children choose their activities, become fully engrossed in what they are doing, and repeat the exercise until satisfied. We may just want to consider ourselves of how frustrating it is to be interrupted when we have found our flow of work. Children react the same way! By allowing a longer workcycle the children have the opportunity to develop their concentration, which is key to all learning!

3. Active Learning. What do we mean by active learning? In difference to passive learning, that is, learning being dependent upon teachers’ instruction, the Montessori environment is prepared as an active learning environment rich in stimulating and challenging activities where children learn through doing, figuring out, and problem solving. The Montessori materials (toys) are carefully designed hands-on materials where hand and mind work together at all times laying solid foundations for every step of a child’s development.

3 Differences of What the Children Learn

1. Self- Construct & Independence. The ethos of a Montessori nursery is that education is pupil-led. Children learn and progress at their own pace developing independence and understanding of the world around them. Independence is therefore encouraged from day 1 at Little Gems Montessori, both physical and intellectual. In our classrooms we learn how to look after both our own needs, such as dressing or preparing ones snack, as well as our environment, which for instance may include looking after our plants or pets. By being trusted in such responsible tasks the children develop healthy attitudes about the world around them.

2. The 3 R’s. Learning to read, write and count should be a joyful experience, not tedious. Many schools pride themselves in having a pre-reading, or pre-maths curriculum. In a Montessori setting children actually learn to read, write and do maths into the 100’s and 1000’s while in pre-school with joy through games and attractive materials. Every piece of material builds on the child’s existing knowledge and can be tailored to meet the needs of each individual child.

3. Personal, Social, Emotional Development. Multi-faceted approaches to the positive development of emotional well-being, social skills and a good relationship with themselves are of primary concern to Little Gems Montessori Nursery. Opportunities are provided for daily interaction fostering cooperation and empathy with their peers and the nurturing of self-esteem, confidence and independence are given the highest priority. Montessori children therefore often surprise adults by their kindness to others, their ability to solve day-to-day problems, and their good manners. Research also shows that children from a Montessori environment are better prepared to enter the mainstream classroom due to their ability to work individually, as well as in groups, having been encouraged to make decisions from an early age; being problem solvers; having been encouraged to exchange ideas and discuss their work freely, and; having good communication skills.


Carola is the owner of Little Gems Montessori Nursery in Nicosia and Larnaca. If you'd like to see the Montessori philosophy in action, give us a call on 22 351319 or 999 50070 or email:

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