Introduction to Montessori

The Montessori method is named for Dr. Maria Montessori, who devoted her life to the observation and study of children. Montessori is a comprehensive approach to education from birth to adulthood. Beginning her work an over a century ago, Dr. Montessori developed her approach through the observation of children from many cultures and economic backgrounds. It succeeds because it draws its principles from the natural development of the child. The inherent flexibility allows the method to adapt to the needs of the individual, regardless of the level of ability, learning style or social maturity. She believed the needs, talents, gifts, and special individuality of each child were important as a guide. Using this approach she created “prepared environments” for multi-age groups (0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and 12-14). The environments contain specifically designed materials for development that invite children to engage in learning activities of their own choice. Under the guidance of a trained teacher, children in a Montessori classroom learn by making discoveries with the materials, cultivating concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Montessori is a hands-on approach to learning that encompasses the use of the five senses, kinetic movement, spatial refinement, and small and large motor skill coordination. With this concrete knowledge, children find their own way to an understanding of concepts. This is combined with a deep love and need for purposeful work. The Montessori method emphasizes self-reliance and independence, in the classroom and at home, by teaching children the skills to do as much for themselves as they are capable of. The trained teacher (guide) is an artful organizer of experiences for the child to discover, process and practice. Constant and ongoing observation by the guide is one of the foundations of the Montessori program.