What is Montessori?
The educational method that guides our schools was pioneered by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator passionately devoted to the welfare and development of young children. Her keen observations led her to the finding that children have "sensitive periods" that coincide with the human developmental process. Dr. Montessori discovered that these sensitive periods are the windows of opportunity for learning because during these stages of development, children are able to focus on specific types of learning with eagerness and intensity, absorbing information naturally and almost without effort.
By recognizing the sensitive periods and fulfilling the children’s needs during those times, adults are uniquely positioned to not only help children realize their potential, but also to promote their awareness of themselves as capable and in control of their environment.
In a Montessori school, the teacher, the child, and the environment create a learning triangle and together unlock the fullest potential of each child. To begin, Montessori classrooms offer a prepared learning environment with specific, carefully designed materials set out for students to explore and manipulate, in order to facilitate deeper understanding to their learning. The thoughtful preparation of the environment enables the teacher to encourage a youngster’s independence, allow freedom within limits, and engender a sense of order.
Montessori teachers then "observe the needs of the child and answer them…." Montessori teachers provide authentic and meaningful learning experiences that guide children from a concrete to an increasingly abstract understanding of their world and spend time observing the children in their interactions with the classroom materials and one another. The traditional multi-age population in Montessori classrooms promotes interaction among peers and naturally leads to collaborative learning situations, benefiting all age groups involved on a multitude of levels. Children move from having teacher and peer support, as well as self-correcting materials, to gaining mastery of various lessons and becoming successful and independent in their work throughout the classroom and beyond.
Although founded more than 100 years ago, the Montessori Method has been validated by the most current research on human learning and development. The American Montessori Society (AMS) has established guidelines for adhering to Dr. Montessori’s practices, and the best Montessori schools work very hard to gain affiliation with AMS to declare their commitment to the best Montessori traditional practices.
Ultimately, the goal of a Montessori education is to give students the skills, motivation, and path to become independent, secure, responsible individuals who remain lifelong learners and caring, contributing members of society.
"One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child."