The Montessori Method
The founder of the Montessori Method, Maria Montessori, was born in Chiaravalle, Italy, in 1870. She became the first female physician in Italy in 1896. Shortly after that she developed a special school, called the Children’s House, for young children of working parents. Here she fashioned her method based on her observations of how children learn through their interactions with their environment. She created beautiful didactic materials for young children to manipulate in order to gain understanding about the world around them. She mastered the individualized lesson, where one young child was presented a lesson and permitted the freedom to repeat the activity as many times as the child wished. Being sensitive to the developmental stages of children, each didactic material appealed to the child of the age for which it was devised. These materials varied from colored tablets for learning the names of the colors to test tubes filled with colored beads for learning long division.
While her work began with children 3 to 6 years of age, she included in her writings descriptions of materials and curriculum for elementary classes, middle school, and even high school. Not only were all these classrooms specially designed for each of these different age groups, but the teachers were to be specially trained in her philosophy, method, and curriculum.
This new way of thinking about children and their education spread throughout the world and today continues to spread. Currently there are close to five thousand private Montessori schools in the United States and countless others in Russia, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Ethiopia, Peru, Tanzania, Mexico, Colombia, India, and many other countries.
Montessori’s focus on the individual child, her sensitivity to the developmental stages of children, and the prepared classroom environment offer opportunities for renewal in the appreciation of family life. A Montessori classroom is like a family; there is cooperation, kindness, caring, and respect for all members as individuals.
Links to more information about Maria Montessori and Montessori education