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 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 of the method allows it to be adapted to the needs of the individual, regardless of ability, learning style or social maturity. Dr. Montessori believed the needs, talents, gifts, and special individuality of each child were important as a developmental guide.
Using this approach she created “prepared environments” for multiage 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 (guide), 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.