Our Philosophy, Mission & Values
This approach, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in Rome in the early 1900s, is child-centered, with teachers serving as “Guides.” The young child is eager to accomplish and do things for himself. In a prepared environment, the child will choose materials that naturally enhance inner needs for growth. The child’s developmental needs are met by the spontaneous choice of activities with the guidance of a trained Montessori Directress. The Montessori teacher is a link between the child and the classroom environment.
Components necessary for a program to be considered authentically Montessori include multiage groupings that foster peer learning, uninterrupted blocks of work time, and guided choice of work activity. In addition, a full complement of specially designed Montessori learning materials are meticulously arranged and available for use in an aesthetically pleasing environment.
The teacher, child, and environment create a learning triangle. The classroom is prepared by the teacher to encourage independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. The child, through individual choice, makes use of what the environment offers to develop himself, interacting with the teacher when support and/or guidance is needed. Children generally have the same teacher for those three years, allowing close teacher-student relationships to develop.
Multiage groupings are a hallmark of the Montessori Method: younger children learn from older children; older children reinforce their learning by teaching concepts they have already mastered. The mixed-age aspect also intrinsically helps build their self-esteem. This arrangement also mirrors the real world, where individuals work and socialize with people of all ages and dispositions.
Dr. Montessori observed that children experience sensitive periods, or windows of opportunity, as they grow. As their students develop, Montessori teachers match appropriate lessons and materials to these sensitive periods when learning is most naturally absorbed and internalized.
In early childhood, Montessori students learn through sensory-motor activities, working with materials that develop their cognitive powers through direct experience: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and movement.
In the elementary years, the child continues to organize his thinking through work with the Montessori learning materials and an interdisciplinary curriculum as he passes from the concrete to the abstract. He begins the application of his knowledge to real-world experiences.
This organization of information—facts and figures—prepares the child for the world of adolescence, when thought and emotion evolve into understanding more abstract, universal concepts such as equity, freedom, and justice.
The Montessori materials contain a “control of error” which allows the child to detect mistakes and correct himself, giving a sense of achievement and self-esteem throughout every day. This play is the work of creating the person each child will become.
The Montessori Education Philosophy as told by Maria Montessori
“To aid life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself, that is the basic task of the educator.
Ours was a house for children, rather than a real school. We had prepared a place for children, where a diffused culture could be assimilated, without any need for direct instruction… Yet these children learned to read and write before they were five, and no one had given them any lessons. At that time it seemed miraculous those children four and a half should be able to write, and that they should have learned without the feeling of having been taught.
We puzzled over it for a long time. Only after repeated experiments did we conclude with certainty that all children are endowed with this capacity to ‘absorb’ culture. If this is true- we then argued- if culture can be acquired without effort, let us provide the children with other elements of culture. And then we saw them ‘absorb’ far more than reading and writing: botany, zoology, mathematics, geography, and all with the same ease, spontaneously and without getting tired.
And so we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher’s task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child.
My experiments, conducted in many different countries have now been going on for forty years (Editor Note: now more than one hundred years), and as the children grew up, parents kept asking me to extend my method to later ages. We then found that individual activity is the one factor that stimulates and produces development and that this is not more true for the little ones of preschool age than it is for the junior, middle, and upper- school children.”
– Dr. Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind