Montessori education is a philosophy and method developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1906 and practiced today in thousands of schools on six continents. Montessori education recognizes the unique potential in each child and awakens children’s natural ability to teach themselves.Click edit button to change this text.

The Secret of Childhood

In 1907, Dr. Montessori was invited to direct what amounted to a daycare program for fifty poor, malnourished slum children in a tenement house in Rome. Using materials she had developed in her studies, and a few untrained assistants, she began her work. Here, in the first “Casa de Bambini”, or Children’s House, she discovered what she later called “the secret of childhood.” She found in the children a spontaneous drive to choose freely the work that seemed to meet their needs’ an unanticipated ability to concentrate on and repeat their choices, a wellspring of internal discipline and self-motivation, an innate sense of order, and spontaneous writing, reading, and academic interests. So remarkable were the changes in these children that she herself did not at first believe it; but soon it was impossible to deny, and the world took notice.

The Montessori Method

With the success of the first Children’s House, Montessori’s methods spread and flourished. She herself continued to study and observe children, refining her methods, extending them to older children, founding schools, training teachers, writing books, and lecturing worldwide. Montessori recognized that children’s developmental needs change as they grow older, and the educational approach changes to meet those needs. Nonetheless, the same basic principles of respect for children and belief in their innate potentials guide the philosophy at all levels.

Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori was herself a unique and remarkable person. Born in rural Italy in 1870, she challenged the medical and educational establishment and became Italy’s first woman M. D. in 1896 She began to work with mentally retarded children, as well as championing the cause of working women and children, and researching mental development and education. In 1904, she became Chair of Anthropology at the University of Rome. During this time she developed her methods of observation and teaching that became the foundation of her philosophy.

The Curriculum

At the 2 1/2 -6-year-old level, the curriculum is the world and everything in it, presented with materials that the child can experience concretely with the senses-by holding, touching, and manipulating them. These materials physically embody basic concepts including shape, size and color, letter sounds, mathematics, language, and more. Music, biology, and skills for practical living are just a few of the areas covered. For the 6-12 year-old, who has developed powers of reason, abstraction, and imagination, the universe and all it contains is presented. Lessons, in the form of stories and materials, inspire children to independent research and group projects. The curriculum in includes the physical nature of the universe, human history and prehistory, literature, science, the arts, mathematics and geometry-in fact, any subject that can be studied can be presented in a Montessori elementary classroom.

Montessori Teachers

Montessori teacher training and school accreditation is offered by several organizations. The oldest is the Association Montessori International, or AMI, founded by Dr. Montessori in 1939. The American Montessori Society, or AMS, is also well-known. Teachers typically train intensively for one year, and a bachelor’s degree is required.