What is Montessori?

Montessori is an approach to the education of children. It is a way of looking at and understanding how children develop and learn, based on careful scientific study, that has been translated into a systematic method of education. It is unique in that it has successfully undergone continued development for over one hundred years and has been used effectively with children in different countries around the world.

It was established in 1906 by Dr. Maria Montessori. Maria Montessori, originally a medical doctor, became an internationally renowned child educator when she brought the scientific methods of observation, experimentation and research to the study of children in the early 1900's.

Dr. Maria Montessori

Dr. Montessori was born in Italy in 1870 and became the first female physician to graduate from medical school in 1896. One of her first positions had her working with mentally retarded children and her clinical observations led her to analyze how children learn. In 1906 she accepted the challenge of working with a group of 60 children from working class families in Rome. This was her first "Casa Dei Bambini" or "Children's House" and is the birthplace of what has ultimately became the Montessori Method of education. Maria Montessori died in Holland in 1952, but her work continues all over the world.

Dr. Montessori believed in working on the "whole child". To "nurture in each child an inner conscience – one that teaches them to think about their actions". We can provide the child with the knowledge of right from wrong, but it is for the child to follow through when no one is around (e.g. not wasting water).

Through her research Dr Montessori discovered that children possessed different (and higher) qualities than those we usually attribute to them.

Some of these qualities are:
  • Concentration - It was previously believed that children had short attention spans, but Dr. Montessori was amazed to observe the length of time that very young children would choose to attend to tasks that interested them.
  • Love of repetition - She also observed that on their own children would choose to practice things they were trying to master, over and over again. Children love repetition. It reinforces the child's learning.
  • Love of order - Where we normally think of children as messy Dr. Montessori found that young children have a natural inclination for organization and orderliness.
  • Freedom of choice - Children like to choose things they do. If materials are set out for children, so that they have easy access to them, children will choose, take, and replace them without the need for assistance from an adult.
This method has been effectively used with normal, gifted, physically and mentally handicapped children, in different countries throughout the world.

** Parents please note that the Montessori materials are not the only things that we focus on. We may decide to do etiquette or courtesy, gross motor or fine motor, music or art, a geography or history lesson. Please don't just focus on the materials. We work on all aspects of the child; "The Whole Child".