Every child develops and learns from within. This developmental drive is especially evident in toddlers, who learn an amazing amount of complex capabilities within their first months and years without requiring any outside incentives. This natural ability to learn can be maintained and further developed throughout our lives if it is not disturbed, reduced or impeded by others trying to control or intervene with it.
Maria Montessori recognized that "the child is his own architect"
. Just as a seed contains its full potential and is ready for development, each child is born with his or her own inner blueprint. In order for these blueprints to be realized, the child needs an appropriate environment which respects his or her own rhythm and individual learning processes.
MATURANAHAUS Emmendingen provides a rich prepared environment for children of all ages and capabilities, in accordance with the needs of each developmental stage.
The kindergarten environment is designed specifically for free play and a wide variety of sensomotor activities. The environment enables a wide range of motor activities and encourages the children to use all their senses, try out new experiences, and repeat tasks as often as they wish until they feel satisfied. Everything can be learned holistically and naturally, from the laws of nature to cultural elements such as reading, writing and math.
In the school there are additional rooms with more areas for active play and learning. These have been specially prepared for concrete activity, which in turn leads to comprehensive learning and knowledge. The primary stage is prepared for increasingly complex social experiences, with opportunities for short internships and practise in active decision-making in the weekly assemblies. In the secondary stage the environment is expanded to include opportunities for formal and analytical work, new social needs and experiences in various areas of public life.
The environment is specifically prepared so that children and youths can be independently active and make personal decisions about what they want to do, with whom, how and for how long etc.
The children constantly experience the satisfying quality of self-motivated activity. Independence and self-initiative permit a genuine interest in a variety of activities and lines of questioning. Many different experiences establish and expand creativity, perseverance and concentration.
In order for children to make genuinely autonomous decisions, they need to be certain of unconditional attention from adults. Only once children feel accepted can they stop altering their behaviour to suit others and instead focus on fulfilling their own developmental needs.
In MATURANAHAUS the children are accompanied by an adult in all areas. The adults give the children appropriate attention and observe their self-chosen activities with mindful interest. The non-directive approach of the adults allows the children to focus on their self-imposed tasks without being disturbed by interventions such as encouragement, correction, guidance, evaluation and rewards.
The genuine interest and attention of adults gives children the essential emotional support to make their own experiences, solve problems and resolve conflicts. The adults accompany the children in absolute confidence in their individual developmental potential.
Rules and boundaries
Simple rules and clear boundaries create a reliable framework and a relaxed environment in which each child feels safe. The adults maintain the house rules and accompany the children in their activities.
Rules and boundaries do not serve to teach but are necessary "safeguards" for a relaxed environment for everyone. In addition to the house rules, children gain experience in making rules and finding solutions in a variety of different situations. From the primary stage onwards the children attend weekly assemblies in which rules are discussed and altered to suit the experiences and needs of the school community.
Every child has sufficient age-appropriate opportunities to expand his or her social competence and gradually develop an awareness for acting responsibly.
Co-operation with parents
In order for the kindergarten and school to be a place for free development, comprehensive cooperation between the pedagogic team and the children's parents is essential.
The basis for this is the parents' decision to respect their children's developmental process, accompany them without coercion and create a relaxed environment at home. The adults are required to constantly re-examine their motives and behaviour and be open for new experiences. The pedagogical team supports the parents in gaining trust in the children's developmental process and to broaden their understanding of children's authentic needs.