Born in 1870, Maria Montessori was the first woman granted a medical degree by the University of Rome. At the age of 28, she was engaged as a medical professional to assess the physical needs of economically and culturally deprived children. Montessori designed materials and techniques allowing children to work in areas previously considered beyond their capacity and brought children to the same academic level as children who did not face the same challenges.
Through her observation of and work with the children, she discovered their remarkable, almost effortless ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings. This simple, yet profound discovery inspired Montessori’s decision to further the self-creating process of the child, now known as the Montessori Method.
The Montessori Method
- Develops and refines the 5 senses and builds the foundation for speech, writing and math
- Children are able to recognize, correct and learn from mistakes
- Children encounter the developmental process and learn the love of activity, concentration, self-discipline and joy in accomplishment
- Teachers look to inspire not instruct
- Enhances the physical, intellectual, emotional, cognitive and social skills
“Scientific observation then has established that education is not what the teacher gives, education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual and is acquired not by listening to the words, but by experiences upon the environment. The task of the teacher then becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activities, spread over a specifically prepared environment and then refraining from obtrusive interference. Human teachers can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so that they will be witnesses of the unfolding of the human soul and to the raising of the new man (person) who will not be victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society.”
– Maria Montessori, Education for a New World
Sensitive Periods: Successive stages of developments. These stages in a child’s development are when they are able to grasp certain concepts with relative ease. Providing an environment that is responsive to and a teacher that is particularly trained to recognize these sensitive periods encourages the child to reach their potential.
Order- 2 to 4 years of age with peak at 3 years
Movement- Birth to 2 ½ years
Small Objects- 1 ½ to 4 years
Good Manners- 3 to 6 years
Language- Birth to 6 years with peak at 1 ½ years
Refinement of Senses- 3 to 6 years
Writing- 3 ½ to 5 years
Reading- 4 ½ to 7 years
Music- 2 to 6 years
Human Potential: Each child has within him/her the person he/she will become.
Absorbent Mind: From the movement of birth each child has a mind to absorb knowledge. Each child has the power to teach himself/herself.
Freedom: A child in order to develop his physical, intellectual, and spiritual powers to the fullest must have freedom- a freedom that is achieved through order and self-discipline. A freedom that is accompanied by responsibility.
“There is a small but growing body of well-designed research comparing Montessori students to those in traditional schools. These suggest that in academic subjects, Montessori students perform as well as or better than their non-Montessori peers.
In one study, for example, children who had attended Montessori schools at the preschool and elementary levels earned higher scores in high school on standardized math and science tests. Another study found that the essays of 12-year-old Montessori students were more creative and used more complex sentence structures than those produced by the non-Montessori group.
The research also shows Montessori students to have greater social and behavioral skills. They demonstrate a greater sense of fairness and justice, for example, and are more likely to choose positive responses for dealing with social dilemmas.
By less stringent measures, too, Montessori students seem to do quite well. Most Montessori schools report that their students are typically accepted into the high schools and colleges of their choice. And many successful grads cite their years at Montessori when reflecting on important influences in their life.”
-Information from American Montessori Society (amshq.org)
Well-Known Montessori Alumni
- JEFF BEZOS – Amazon founder
- DAVID BLAINE – Illusionist & magician
- JULIA CHILD – Celebrity chef & author
- GEORGE CLOONEY – Academy award-winning actor, director, producer, humanitarian, United nations messenger of peace
- JOHN and JOAN CUSACK – Actor and screenwriter, and Academy award-nominated actress
- ANNE FRANK – Memoirist & author
- JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS – Former first lady and Doubleday editor
- SERGEY BRIN & LARRY PAGE – Google founders
- YO YO MA – United nations Peace Ambassador, winner of 15 Grammy Awards, Presidential Medal of Freedom & National Medal of the Arts