Why Montessori?

Montessori Education's Global Presence

Over 100 years after its start in Rome, Montessori education thrives worldwide, including over 5,000 schools in the U.S.

Maria Montessori, an early female physician in Italy, began with the poor children of Rome. Her work led to the Montessori method, characterized by:

  • Key Tools: Beads, rods, spindles, and sandpaper letters form the learning apparatus.
  • Children learn independently through hands-on tools.
  • These tools help children build knowledge sequentially.

While the tools are visible, other elements also crucially support Montessori's success.

Essential Montessori elements include:

  1. Mixed age grouping, which fosters independence, cooperation and discovery;
  2. Large blocks of uninterrupted time for self-directed work;
  3. An environment that allows for maximum freedom of movement and choice;
  4. An overall emphasis on intrinsic motivation rather than rewards or punishments;
  5. Specially prepared adults who are skilled at observation, preparing an environment, and interacting with children in positive, respectful ways.

Human development is the central focus of Montessori education. Maria Montessori mapped four "planes of development," each with its own special characteristics and needs. The first level of development occurs from birth to age 6. At the stage children are sensorial explorers, constructing their intellects by absorbing every aspect of their environment, their language and their culture. From age 6 to 12 children become conceptual explorers. They apply their powers of abstraction and imagination, to discover and expand their worlds further. Montessori Schools are organized to reflect these stages: Primary classrooms, 3-6 year-old, Lower Elementary, 6-9 and Upper Elementary, 9-12.

Research on Montessori has begun to shed much needed light on both the history and culture of the movement and the factors that contribute to its success. Psychological research, in particular, has validated many of the core principles of the method, including mixed-age grouping, differentiated instruction, interdisciplinary study, and intrinsic motivation. This growing knowledge base provides insight and evidence for importance of these and other factors in fostering optimal settings for students to not only achieve at high levels, but to develop life-long habits of confidence, persistence, critical thinking, and love of learning.

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