The Montessori Method
The key concept of the Montessori method is that students become actively involved in the education process. The philosophy focuses on the development of the total child through the use of specially designed sequential materials, a “prepared environment,” and a redefinition of the role of the teacher. The program emphasizes the process involved in learning rather than just the product. The goal of self-discipline is not exclusively dependent on either a highly structured or a totally laissez-faire atmosphere. Rather, within the prepared environment, each student is allowed certain limited choices about curriculum and time management based on his or her motivation, potential, individual ability, and need. Incorporated in the Montessori method is the belief that every student carries within the person that he or she will become and that every youngster is born with far greater ability than is usually developed. We are committed to nurturing that potential.
Our curricular emphases are on language arts, mathematics, and cultural studies. In language arts, we emphasize all the critical components of reading, speaking, listening, and writing in order to fully develop students’ key skills, with additional attention to handwriting and grammar. Cultural studies is comprised of a combination of history, geography, zoology, and botany. Mathematics preparation includes understanding and communicating key concepts, development of problem-solving skills, and introduction to geometry.
Our program includes the following goals:
- To create awareness of the interdependence of people and nature and of all people and nations.
- To instill respect for the variety of ways in which people meet their basic needs.
- To integrate writing and art as learning processes throughout the curriculum.
- To assure mastery of the skills needed to read and value fine literature.
- To develop an appreciation for the structure and organization of language.
- To foster an understanding of mathematical concepts.
- To integrate science and history throughout the timeline of life.
Some of the main principles of Montessori education include:
- Self-motivated learning guided by teachers.
- Group work and individual activity.
- Responsible freedom of movement.
- Self-educational and self-correcting learning materials.
- Emphasis on the learning process (for both teachers and students).
- Emphasis on cooperation and caring for peers, younger students, our environment, and our planet.
A Brief History of Montessori Education
Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SOAR-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, over a century after Maria Montessori opened the first Casa de Bambini (“children’s house”) in Rome, Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence. Today, Montessori education means an education where the student makes choices, is responsible for their learning environment and their environment as a whole, learns basic educational steps through manipulative tools in a hands-on setting, and learns respect for others.
Additional Information about Montessori Education
American Montessori Society: www.amshq.org
The Montessori Foundation: www.montessori.org
The International Montessori Index: www.montessori.edu
National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector: www.public-montessori.org
Implementing Montessori Education in the Public Sector (Kahn 1990)