Montessori encompasses a philosophy by which children are allowed to develop naturally and fully, each at his or her own pace. Under the guidance of a certified Montessori Directress, in a specially prepared environment and using carefully formulated materials, children are given the opportunity to learn in the best ways – by choice and by discovery. The dual qualities of independence and a love of learning, natural tendencies in children, are nurtured in such a way that both competence and confidence result. These competent and self-confident young people have the necessary tools for a successful future learning and living.
At the under age six level, Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. They are not required to sit and listen to a teacher talk to them as a group, but are engaged in individual or group activities of their own, with materials that have been introduced to them 1:1 by the teacher who knows what each child is ready to do. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning.
Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SORE-ee) education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children’s learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a “prepared environment” in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Now, nearly a century after Maria Montessori’s first “Casa Dei Bambini” (children’s house) in Rome, Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.
There are more Montessori programs for ages 2 1/2 – 6 than for any other age group, but Montessori is not limited to early childhood. Many infant/toddler programs (ages 2 months to 3 years) exist, as well as elementary (ages 6-12), adolescent (ages 12-15) and even a few Montessori high schools.
Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations.
- Research indicates that children in a Montessori program, have better academic outcomes.
- Mixed-age classrooms encourage the social cohesion of the group. In a traditional classroom child are the same age.
- Montessori focuses on the whole child for experiences and development in all areas of human life, rather than focusing on the narrow academic life of young children traditionally just learning colors, letters, numbers etc.
- Montessori curriculum is adaptable because each child is different. It is a flexible program and students work at their own pace. Traditional education follows a singular pathway that all students must follow.
- In a Montessori classroom children take an active role in their education and work hands-on with materials in Math and Language. In a traditional classroom children learn to pass tests.
- In a Montessori classroom teachers foster a lifelong love of learning so that children enjoy and value their education.
- Montessori schools are not based on any religion or religious practices.