Montessori is a philosophy of education that comes directly from the work of Dr. Maria Montessori (1870–1952), an Italian physician and educator who believed that every child has natural intelligence and a desire to learn. Dr. Montessori carefully designed the classroom environment to spark that desire to learn into action.
A well prepared, beautiful, organized environment is created for the students where they explore, problem solve, and learn by utilizing the Montessori materials and by interacting with peers and classroom leaders. The classroom becomes a safe, inviting, joyful place where great learning takes place.
Hands on Materials
Learning is individualized, and students move through classroom works sequentially and at their own pace. Because many of the materials contain self-correcting aspects, the children learn to monitor their own progress, and they can feel an immediate sense of accomplishment as they complete each activity. The materials alone do not define the methodology. Despite the elegant simplicity of the materials, there is more than one hundred years of pedagogy and implementation behind their design, and Montessori teachers are specifically trained to incorporate each material into the bigger picture of what we call the Montessori Method.
Multi-age Learning Community
As a result of the lateral age-grouping, children learn from each other in a spontaneous manner that supports independent self-directed activity. The variation of ages fosters children teaching children, a vital element in Montessori education, and this is necessary for the diversity, flexibility, and reduced competition integral to Montessori.
Montessori’s purposefully created activities promote peer collaboration and facilitate deep learning. Children can learn skills that are just beyond their ability if they are helped by another child who has that skill. This often occurs in cooperative learning because of the tightly knit groups that are formed.
Uninterrupted Work Cycle
Given uninterrupted blocks of work time and the opportunity to select materials freely, students become absorbed in work that has a particular purpose for their developmental stages. A child’s focus, concentration, and intrinsic intellectual exploration is nurtured by the uninterrupted work time.
The books listed below are a few of those published on the Montessori method and are recommended to gain a deeper understanding of Maria Montessori’s approach to education. Most are available at the public library or can be purchased in paperback at local bookstores.
Maria Montessori, Her Life and Work, by E.M. Standing
Maria Montessori, A Biography, by Rita Kramer
Montessori: A Modern Approach, by Paula Polk Lillard
Montessori Today, by Paula Polk Lillard
The Absorbent Mind, by Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child, by Maria Montessori
The Secret of Childhood, by Maria Montessori
“The child, in fact, once he feels sure of himself, will no longer seek the approval of authority after every step.”
- Maria Montessori