What is Montessori?

In 1896 Dr. Maria Montessori became one of the first woman physicians to graduate from the University of Rome. Soon after, in 1907, she was asked to direct a center for impoverished families in Italy. It was here that she developed her teaching method. Based on her scientific observations of children’s behavior, she created "The Montessori Method."

She believed that others do not educate others, instead, one must educate oneself. Montessori understood that children cannot help but learn because children are thinking beings and by simply living, children learn from their environment. Consequently, Dr. Montessori developed an environment where children would be independent and freedom would be the essential characteristic.

Dr. Montessori believed that children who were actively involved in a prepared environment exercising freedom of choice would literally educate themselves, thus, the role that freedom plays in the environment, is crucial. A Montessori classroom operates on three principle’s: freedom within limits, respect for one’s self, for others and for the environment. Respect for the child is the cornerstone on which all other principles rest.

Montessori described her philosophy in three words: Follow the Child.

Montessori education provides orderliness, independence, self-directed learning, a calm environment, and a place where children are at the center of the learning process.

Our educational aim must be to aid the spontaneous development of the mental, spiritual and physical personality, and not to make of the child a cultured individual in the commonly accepted use of the term.

- Maria Montessori