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What Is Montessori?

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What Is Montessori?

Montessori is an approach to education with the fundamental belief that a child learns best within a social environment which supports and respects each individual's unique development.

A Montessori morning. A 3-hour work period in 4-minutes. 

Montessori's dynamic theories included such innovative premises as:

  1. Children are to be respected as different from adults and as individuals and are different from one another.

  2. Children create themselves through purposeful activity.

  3. The most important years for learning are from birth to age six.

  4. Children possess unusual sensitivity and mental powers for absorbing and learning from their environment, which includes people, as well as materials.

She carried her message throughout the world, including the United States as early as 1912. An enthusiastic first response in the U.S resulted in a reintroduction of the approach in the mid-1950's, and was followed by the organization of the American Montessori Society in 1960.

How Did It Begin?

Dr. Maria Montessori, the creator of what is called "The Montessori Method of Education," based this approach on her scientific observations of young children's behavior.  As one of the first woman physicians to graduate 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 a "Children's House" and based the program on her observation that young children learn best in a homelike setting, filled with developmentally appropriate materials that provide experiences, contribute to the growth of self-motiviated, independent learners.