Montessori Education  
History  
Montessori is an approach to education with the funda¬mental belief that a child learns best within a social environment which supports and respects each individual's unique development.
Dr. Maria Montessori, the creator of "The Montessori Method of Education," based this approach on her scientific observations of young children's behavior. As one of the first female physicians to gradu¬ate from the University of Rome, Montessori became involved with education as a doctor treating children labeled as mentally handicapped. Then, in 1907, she was invited to open a child care center for the children of desperately poor families in the San Lorenzo slums of Rome.
She called it "Casa Dei Bambini" and based the program on her observations that young children learn best in a homelike setting, filled with developmentally appropriate materials that provide experiences contributing to the growth of self-motivated, independent learners.
 
Montessori's dynamic theories included such innovative premises as  
  Children are to be respected as different from adults and as individuals who are different from one another.
  Children create themselves through purposeful activity.
  The most important years for learning are from birth to age six.
  Children possess unusual sensitivity and mental powers for absorbing and learning from their environment, which includes people, as well as materials.
 
   
Frequently Asked Questions  
What makes Montessori Education Unique?
The foremost objective of our Montessori program is to help each child reach full potential in all areas of life. Activities are designed to promote the development of social skills, emotional growth, and physical coordination as well as cognitive preparation. The holistic curriculum, under the direction of a specially trained teacher, allows the child to exper¬ience the joy of learning, time to enjoy the process and ensure the development of self-esteem, and provides the experiences from which children create their knowledge.

The "Prepared Environment."
In order for self-directed learning to take place, the whole learning environment — room, materials and social climate — must be supportive of the learner. The teacher provides the nec¬essary resources, including opportunities for children to function in a safe and positive climate. Thus the teacher gains the children's trust, which encourages them to try new things and build self-confidence.

The Montessori Materials.
Dr. Montessori's observations of the kinds of things that children enjoy and go back to repeatedly, led her to design a number of multi-sensory, sequential and self-correcting materials that promote the learning of skills and lead to learning of abstract ideas.

The Teacher.
The Montessori teacher plays many roles such as the creator of the environment, a resource person, a role model, a demon¬strator, a record-keeper, and a meticulous observer of each child's behavior and growth. The teacher is also the facilitator of learning.

How does it work?
The Montessori classroom operates on the principle of freedom within limits. Every program has its set of ground rules which differs from age to age. However, it is always based on core Montessori beliefs - respect for each other and for the environment.
Children are free to work at their own pace with materials they have chosen, either alone or with others. The teacher relies on his or her observations of the children to deter¬mine which new activities and materials may be introduced to an individual child or to a small or large group. The aim is to encourage active, self-directed learning and to strike a balance of individual mastery within small group collaboration within the whole group community.

How is Creativity Encouraged?
Originality and inspiration flourishes in an atmosphere of acceptance and trust. Montessorians recognize that all children learn and express themselves in a very individual way.
Activities in music, art, storytelling, movement and drama are integrated into the Montessori programs. But there are other things particular to the Montessori environ¬ment which encourage creative development: many materials which stimulate interest and involvement; an emphasis on the sensory aspect of experience; and oppor¬tunities for both verbal and non-verbal form of learning

How Can a Montessori Classroom Be Identified?
Since Montessori is a house-hold name, it is possible for any individual or institution to claim to be Montessori. But, an authentic Montessori classroom must have these basic characteristics at all levels:
 
  Teachers certified in the Montessori philosophy and methodology for the age level they are teaching, who have the ability and dedication to put the key concepts into practice.
  A partnership established with the family. The family is considered an integral part of the individual's total development.
  A multi-aged, multi-graded diverse grouping of students.
  A varied set of Montessori materials, activities and experiences which are designed to foster physical, intellectual, creative and social independence.
  A schedule which allows large blocks of time to problem-solve, to see connections in knowledge and to create new ideas.
  A classroom atmosphere which encourages social interaction for cooperative learning, peer teaching and emotional development.
     
 
What Happens When a Child Leaves Montessori?
Montessori children are unusually adaptable. They have learned to work independently and in groups. Since they've been encouraged to make decisions from an early age, these children are problem-solvers who can make choices and manage their time well.
They have also been encouraged to exchange ideas and to discuss their work freely with others. Good communica¬tion skills ease the way in new settings.
Research has shown that the best predictor of future success is a positive sense of self-esteem. Montessori programs, based on self-directed, non-competitive activities, help children develop good self-images and the confidence to face challenges.
 
   
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