Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was the first Italian woman to earn a medical degree. As a physician, some of her earliest work involved observing young children and how they learn, leading to the Montessori method, making it the first research-based curriculum. Many early educational theorists were inspired by or learned directly from her and her classrooms including Erik Erikson and Jean Piaget, foundational thinkers in developmental theory. A growing body of current research from both the Montessori and greater education community is confirming what Montessori teachers have known for 100 years, that Montessori is the most effective way of supporting the learning and development of young children. Dr. Montessori was ahead of her time.
The Montessori classroom is carefully designed to draw children in and engage them in a learning process that is driven by their interest and an innate motivation to learn. Montessori believes that a child’s own awakened love of discovery and learning will fuel her motivation to explore and learn about the world around her. Areas of the classroom include language, math, practical life, science and social studies, and sensorial. Practical life materials build on the desire int he child to “do it myself.” Independence is both an aim and a motivator in how the classroom and activities are structured. Sensorial materials draw on the child’s need for order and help create structures in the mind on which a child can build their understanding. It is this area that is critical to establishing what we now call “executive function.”
- Use their inherent curiosity to drive their learning about themselves and the world around them.
- Understand their connections to their communities and environment.
- Learn by doing things with their hands, minds, and hearts.
- Find motivation in their ability to choose activities that fuel their interests.
Respect for the autonomy of the child and a belief in his ability to “figure it out” is at the core of every interaction, learning material, and classroom environment. They learn to ask themselves, “What do I want to do?” choose and then become focused on their own work and behavior. Thus, ideally, a Montessori child is able to develop his/her own sense of concentration as well as a greater sense of confidence, character and self-esteem.
More information on the Montessori Method:
- Association Montessori Internationale/USA – Fernwood Montessori is a fully-recognized AMI/USA school
- American Montessori Society – Apple Montessori, Broad Branch Children’s House, Franklin Montessori in DC, Franklin Montessori Schools in MD, and White Flint Children’s House are all accredited by AMS.
- Montessori Northwest – A fantastic blog by trainers and teachers about a myriad of topics directly and indirectly related to Montessori.
- Carrots are Orange – A wonderful parent blog about living a Montessori life with your child.