Q. Where did Montessori come from?
A. Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SORE-ee) education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children's learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a "prepared environment" in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Now, nearly a century after Maria Montessori's first casa dei bambini ("children's house") in Rome, Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.
Q. What is the difference between Montessori and traditional education?
A. Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Montessori classes place children in three-year age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and so on), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education.
Q. Can I do Montessori at home with my child?
A. Yes, you can use Montessori principles of child development at home. Look at your home through your child's eyes. Children need a sense of belonging, and they get it by participating fully in the routines of everyday life. "Help me do it by myself" is the life theme of the preschooler.
Q. Why should I send my child to preschool?
A. Most educators and psychologists agree that the single most important period in the development of a person’s intelligence occurs between birth and age five. A child’s mind is absorbent, and his curiosity is at a peak during these early years. When properly nourished and stimulated, the child’s mind forms patterns of learning which serve him throughout his life. A Montessori school provides one of the most effective environments in which to guide a child through these critical years.
Q. How is a Montessori program different from other preschool programs?
A. In most preschools, the children are taught educational concepts in a group by a teacher. In a Montessori program, the children work at their own pace, independently learning concepts from multi-sensory materials designed for self-correction and physical exploration.
Q. Who started the Montessori Method?
A. Dr. Maria Montessori in the early twentieth century was Italy’s first woman physician, and this background led her to approach education not as a philosopher or educator, but as a scientist. Through careful observation of children, she developed unique materials in a child-centered environment and revolutionized educational thought by stressing respect for the child, freedom of expression, self-education, and learning through the use of the senses and movement.
Q. What is in a Montessori classroom?
A. The Montessori classroom is a child-sized world. Whatever is in the world outside can be incorporated meaningfully into the Montessori classroom. To the young child, the world is unmanageable–it is too big, too complex, and too confusing. By careful selection of materials by the teacher, an environment is set up which allows the child a place to explore life on a level she can understand. The materials and exercises are designed to stimulate independent exploration. This prepared environment entices the child to proceed at her own pace, from simple to more complex activities. Through this process, her natural curiosity is satisfied, and she begins to experience the joy of discovering the world around her. Materials and curricula center around practical life, sensorial, mathematics, language, geography, history, science, art, music, drama, and perceptual motor development.