What is Montessori?
A "whole child" approach to education.
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that no human being is educated by another person...the goal of early childhood education should not be to fill the child with facts from a pre-selected course of studies, but rather to cultivate a natural desire to learn.
Montessori is a philosophy of education. Some see it as a new and progressive method, but it has also been tried and proven for over one hundred years. Dr. Maria Montessori developed this “new education” based on her scientific observations of children. She established that children possess an intrinsic desire to explore, discover, and learn about their environment, and that they learn best in a supportive, home-like setting. In 1907, she opened her first school “Casa de Bambini” or Children’s House, and began developing the very special learning environment, materials and methods that have been enhanced over the years to educate and challenge children and prepare them so well for later life experiences.
Each Montessori classroom is a carefully prepared learning environment for children at specific stages of development. It is filled with specially designed, age appropriate, multi sensory, sequential and self- correcting materials, which facilitate the learning of skills and concepts and enhancement of self-esteem. This child centered, rather than teacher centered, environment provides the opportunity for an individually paced learning experience. This experience is supported by a highly trained, certified Montessori teacher whose goal is to provide an environment where the child is stimulated and challenged, but not pressured. The teacher is trained as a keen observer in order to recognize the needs of each individual and to offer appropriate learning materials at each developmental stage. Through this process the child not only acquires specific knowledge and skills, but learns how to learn and how to pursue the learning process.
The Montessori environment is a special community for children. Here is a place just for them where they may participate in every aspect of its functioning. The children help to care for and respect the environment, themselves, and their peers. Respect and responsibility are part of everyday living in the Montessori community and in life.
Each Montessori classroom is comprised of a three year, mixed age group of children. It is an environment in which younger students experience the stimulation and guidance of older students. In return, the older students are given the benefit of the leadership role and they solidify their learning experiences by helping others. Students stay in the same class for three full years, allowing the full development of strong, stable relationships and the maturation from younger to older student.
Montessori is a “whole child” approach to education. It aims to do much more than teach facts. Through active involvement in their own education, the children experience the joy of learning and gain the characteristics necessary to complete their most important work, the development of the adult that they will become. All of these interactive and educational experiences play an important role in the evolution of the child’s knowledge of the world, independence and self-esteem, all so crucial to a healthy and productive life.