What is a Montessori Education

The basic idea in the Montessori approach to education is that every child carries unseen potential within the person he/she will become. In order to develop his/her physical, intellectual and spiritual powers to the fullest, he/she must have freedom – a freedom achieved through order and self-discipline.

The world of the child is full of sights and sounds, which at first appear chaotic. From this chaos, the child must gradually create order, and by learning to distinguish among the impressions that assail his/her senses, he/she slowly but surely gains mastery of himself/herself and of his/her environment.

To this end, Dr. Montessori developed the “prepared environment” which possesses a certain order and disposes the child to develop at his own speed, according to his/her own capacities in a non-competitive atmosphere. The child who has had the benefit of a Montessori environment is better prepared to devote himself/herself, at a later age, to the development of his/her intellectual potentialities. He/She has learned to work by himself/herself, in the prepared environment, enjoying the presence of other children, but not working necessarily with them. The trained adult is able to work with each child individually, thus fostering within his/her competence as an independent learner.

Dr. Montessori has recognized that the only valid impulse to learning is the self-motivation of the child. Children move themselves toward learning, making use of their three physic powers: their intelligence leads them to the activity, their will prompts them to do it, and through their ability to move they are able to carry out the activity. The adult prepares the environment and offers the child stimulation, but it is the child who learns, who is motivated through the work itself to persist in her chosen task.

  • Multiple Grade-ranges
    • 3-6 year-old / Prek-K
    • 6-9 year-old / 1-3 Grades
    • 9-12 year-old / 46 Grades
    • Middle School / 78 Grades
  • Planes of Development
  • Normalization
  • Montessori Scope and Sequence
  • Follow the Child (Introduce, Practice, Master concepts and skills)

Video from the American Montessori Society

Montessori: The Elementary Years from American Montessori Society on Vimeo.

Maria Montessori: A Brief Biography

Maria Montessori was born in Italy on August 31, 1870. She was born to a well-respected family and was expected to grow up to fulfill the traditional role of the Italian woman. Instead, she pursued an advanced degree at the University of Rome and became the first woman physician to graduate in Italy. Her interests drew her to work with children, initially those who were disadvantaged and had special needs.

Because she was an anthropologist, Montessori’s decisions about working with children were made by observing them first. She was trained as an educator and thus her decisions were based upon watching what children did and what they were attracted to. Through her observations and trial and error, she developed what became known as the Montessori Method of education. It was a radical departure in Montessori’s own time. She did not place children in restricting environments, but instead designed the environment to reflect the children. Tables and chairs were child-sized and materials were placed on low shelves to be readily accessible to the students. In addition, many of the skills were designed to teach children to become more independent and do things for themselves.

Montessori continued throughout her life to work for the betterment of the lives of children, founding training centers for teachers and dispersing this method throughout her world. During her later years, her focus became centered on educating children to promote the principles of peace. Her legacy has been the establishment of Montessori schools around the world, which promote the cause of the child as a citizen of the world.