The Montessori Method

What is Montessori?

Montessori is a teaching methodology based on the natural learning processes of children. Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, developed the method more than 90 years ago. Dr. Montessori used the term “the absorbent mind” to describe how a young child learns in a comfortable and stimulating environment. Within such an environment, a child becomes absorbed in work, developing concentration, independence, and self-discipline.

Dr. Montessori believed that children learn best through their senses. By working with concrete materials, the child begins to understand abstract concepts. With guidance by a trained Montessori teacher, the child gradually masters the different materials and concepts. As the child masters each task, it reinforces learning as a positive experience. Success develops the child’s self-confidence and self-esteem.

The Montessori preparation-training program is 320 contact hours plus an academic year of supervised internship. During the internship, teachers learn how to use a variety of the specially designed educational materials. The intent is to allow children to learn using the materials while the teacher acts as a guide.

A Proven Approach

The approach has proven successful over the past 90 years to be effective in any culture and for all socio-economic groups. As a result, the number of Montessori schools has expanded rapidly throughout the world. During the last decade, the Montessori movement has grown rapidly in both public and private education. It is estimated that prior to 1985 approximately 750 private Montessori schools existed. No public schools had the Montessori program at that time. Since then, the number of private schools has expanded to 2,500 in the private sector and 1,250 in public school systems throughout the United States.

The Classroom

The classroom, called a “Montessori environment,” generally has 20-25 students, a teacher, and an aide. Each environment has about a dozen open shelves arranged around the classroom to create separate and
defined areas of study. Each area has a large set of perfectly complete didactic materials and lessons. Children freely choose their tasks, as long as they know how to utilize the material. If they do not, they may ask for an individual presentation.

The Materials

The specially designed materials are used to teach practical life skills (necessary for fine motor development and the ability to increase the child’s focus and concentration, as well as sense of independence); sensory-motor education and cognitive skills development; language arts; and mathematics. Additionally, special materials and furniture are used in the Montessori library and listening center, the art center, the social studies center, and a science center that includes botany, zoology, animal classification and microscopy. Each of the areas requires a variety of materials not normally used in classrooms.

Google Founders Talk Montessori

Notable Montessori Students