Who developed the Montessori approach?


Maria Montessori was born in 1870 and became the first female physician in Italy in 1896. She was employed, as a medical professional to assess the physical needs of “defective children,” children who were mentally or otherwise disabled. She designed material and techniques that allowed them to work in areas previously considered beyond their capacity. Her great triumph came when these children took the state examinations along with normal children, and passed them!

In 1907 she opened her Casa del Bambini (The Children’s House) to work with slum children below the age of six. Through her observations of and experimentation with these children, she discovered their remarkable ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings. Children will teach themselves from their environment! Montessori further observed that children love concentration, repetition, order, work, creativity, accomplishment, and silence. These truths inspired her lifelong pursuit of educational reform, which has resulted in the creation of
Montessori schools around the world.

Montessori Approach

What are some characteristics of the Montessori approach?

The teacher’s role is unobtrusive–

  • The child actively participates in learning.
  • The environment and method encourage internal self-discipline.
  • Instruction is adapted to the student’s learning style.
  • Mixed age grouping provides examples to the younger and leadership experience to the older children.
  • The child chooses his own work according to his interests and abilities.
  • The child sets his own learning pace.
  • The child spots his own errors through feedback from the material.
  • The child works as long as he wants to on his chosen project.
  • Learning is reinforced through repetition and feelings of success.
  • Manipulation of concrete objects provides a foundation for later understanding of abstract concepts.
  • The child can move around and work where he is comfortable.
  • The child is taught to respect his environment by helping keep the classroom clean and orderly.

What type of activities will my child be involved in within the classroom?

Practical Life activities that include pouring, sweeping, dressing, stacking, folding,wiping, polishing, and washing. Sensorial activities that explore sound, color, size, shape, smell, and touch. Mathematics activities in which he manipulates objects in the forms of units (1 bead), tens (a rod of 10 beads), hundreds (a square of 100 beads), and thousands (a cube of 1000 beads). Language activities that emphasize phonics, beginning with sandpaper letters. Cultural activities that cover geography, music, art, science, and history.


What other aspects of the Montessori approach should I be aware of?

All Montessori exercises employ free choice (within boundaries). The limits of a child’s freedom to choose are as follows:

  • He may freely choose to work only from materials he has been presented.
  • He must use the materials properly and return them properly.
  • He may not infringe upon the rights of others.
  • At the heart of the Montessori philosophy and method is respect.
  • Your child will be treated with respect. And he or she will be taught respect for others and for his environment.