“The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.”
Dr. Maria Montessori
The Montessori Method of education was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy’s first female physician. Her first school called “Casa dei Bambini” opened in 1907. Today, Montessori schools flourish all over the world. Fundamental to all of Dr. Montessori’s ideas is a deep respect for a child’s ability to learn. She recognized that children go through certain phases, or sensitive periods, for learning. This innate potential to learn is dependent upon a loving environment that encourages the active pursuit of knowledge.
Dr. Montessori’s developmentally appropriate approach to learning is designed to fit each child instead of making each child fit into a preset program. She believed that learning should take place in multi-aged classrooms where children at various stages of development could learn from each other. This learning should take place in a noncompetitive atmosphere that supports each child to develop at their own pace.
Dr. Montessori observed that the best way for young children to learn is by active, hands-on experiences in an atmosphere of mutual respect. She developed the idea of the prepared environment, where the classroom contains a wide variety of cognitive materials that foster learning in numerous areas. The materials purpose is not only to impart knowledge, but also to provide stimuli that capture a child’s attention and initiate a process of concentration and love of learning. Children who live and learn in such an atmosphere of respect experience the true joy of education. They gain a sense of themselves as people, discover and explore the world around them, and begin to discover how they can fit into it, now and in the future.