What is Montessori?

The Montessori Method of education, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, embraces a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood. Dr. Montessori’s Method has been time tested, with over 100 years of success in diverse cultures throughout the world. The Montessori Method embraces a student-centered approach to education that encourages each child to reach their full potential through creativity, curiosity, exploration, and independent thinking.

Montessori is the original educational system, dedicated to the development of the whole child and remains on the cutting edge of current thinking in education, brain research and child development. Its longevity and continuing relevance is due to Dr. Maria Montessori’s years of intense study of children and how they learn and grow. The carefully designed and sequenced materials engage the child and support physical, intellectual and emotional development at each stage of growth.

The Montessori Method views the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child””physical, social, emotional, cognitive.

One of the key components of Montessori classrooms is the multi-age groupings that foster peer learning, uninterrupted blocks of work time, and guided choice of work activity. In addition, a full range of specially designed Montessori learning materials are meticulously arranged and available for use in an aesthetically pleasing environment.

The trained Montessori teacher, the child and the environment create a learning triangle. The classroom is prepared by the teacher to encourage independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. The child, through individual choice, makes use of what the environment offers to develop himself, interacting with the teacher when support and/or guidance is needed.

Multi-age groupings are a hallmark of the Montessori Method. Younger children learn from older children and older children reinforce their learning by teaching concepts they have already mastered to the younger children. This arrangement also mirrors the real world, where individuals work and socialize with people of all ages and dispositions.

Dr. Montessori observed that children experience sensitive periods, or windows of opportunity, as they grow. As their students develop, Montessori teachers match appropriate lessons and materials to these sensitive periods when learning is most naturally absorbed and internalized.

In early childhood, Montessori students learn through sensory-motor activities, working with materials that develop their cognitive powers through direct experience: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and movement.

In the elementary years, the child continues to organize his thinking through work with the Montessori learning materials and an interdisciplinary curriculum as he passes from the concrete to the abstract.  He begins the application of his knowledge to real-world experiences.

This organization of information – facts and figures – prepares the child for the world of adolescence, when thought and emotion evolve into understanding more abstract, universal concepts such as equity, freedom, and justice.

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