Who was Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952)?

Dr. Maria Montessori, who was the first female doctor in Rome, Italy, developed her philosophy of education while working with "mentally deficient" children who at that time were housed in insane asylums. Through her guidance, and because of her methods, these children learned to read and write so well that they became equal in intelligence to children in ordinary schools! This led her to apply her methods to normal children and on January 6 1907, the first Children's House opened in a slum area of Rome.

What is the Montessori method?

Dr. Montessori provided the children with a pleasant environment that was carefully prepared to let the children have as much freedom as possible, and for them to choose materials that encourage hands-on sensorial education with a built in control of error. The teacher is the main link between the materials and the child.

What is the role of the teacher in the Montessori classroom?

The role of the teacher is to care for the environment, to observe and direct the child's activities when needed uphold a loving and secure atmosphere and be responsive to the child's changing needs. She must know in her heart that she is doing everything humanly possible to assist the child in his task of becoming a happy, independent and self-reliant individual. She is truly helping the child to help himself!

How is a Montessori class structured?

The Montessori classroom is multi-age, which includes a three-year age span. The primary classroom, for example, includes children ages 2 1/2 to 6. All of the materials in the prepared environment are arranged on the shelves in sequential order and are designed to give the child the freedom and time to mature and develop at his own pace. The child learns to interact with adults (teachers) and children of other ages within socially acceptable guidelines.

What makes Montessori education unique?

The prepared environment in a Montessori classroom is designed specifically for the child's physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual growth. The child develops a rapport with the environment and the materials in it. Through the process of working with these materials, the child becomes independent, self-reliant, self-disciplined, happy and a well-adjusted member of his classroom. The emphasis is on the child, he sets his own pace, provides his own stimulus to learning, is free to discover on his own. It is self-education through self-correcting materials, with the teacher as an observer and director. This contrast greatly with traditional education where the emphasis is placed on the teacher and the children must conform to the teacher's curriculum, schedule, and corporal punishment and dominant influence using play materials for nonspecific skills.

Is Montessori affiliated with a religion?

Montessori is a philosophy of education and is not affiliated with any religion. The Montessori method is used worldwide by church schools as well as private schools.