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Montessori Philosophy

“The environment must be rich with motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.”
Maria Montessori

The Montessori educational philosophy, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1907, is based on the tenet that children learn best within what she called “prepared environments,” which support their unique developmental characteristics. These environments contain specially designed, manipulative materials for development that invite children to learn at their own pace according to their own individual style. Under the guidance of a trained teacher, children in a Montessori classroom learn through discovery, a methodology that cultivates concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning.

The prepared environments and the role the teacher plays in the classroom distinguish Montessori from other educational approaches. They also offer practical occasions for introducing social relationships through free interaction. The logical, sequential nature of the environment provides orderly structures that guide discovery. For instance, theorems are discovered, not presented; spelling rules are derived through recognition of patterns, not merely memorized. Every aspect of the curriculum involves creative invention and careful, thoughtful analysis. In a Montessori classroom, the emphasis is on how students learn something, not the mere memorization of facts. Helping students discover how they learn at any early age helps them become more adept, inspired learners.

Premises of the Montessori Education

  • Each child learns differently from adults and from other children, differences that should be celebrated rather than corrected.
  • Children are naturally creative and best express themselves through purposeful activity.
  • A foundation of lifelong learning is built from birth through age 12.
  • Children possess exceptional sensitivities and an innate ability to absorb stimuli and learn from their environment.

How Does It Work?

Each Acorn Montessori class is grounded in the core Montessori beliefs of respect for oneself, each other, and for the environment. Children are free to work at their own pace with materials they have chosen, either alone or with others, while teachers rely on observations to determine which new activities and materials to introduce to an individual child or to a group. The objective is to encourage active, self-directed learning and to strike a balance of individual mastery with small group collaboration within the whole group community. The three-year-age span within each class provides a family-like grouping where learning takes place naturally. More experienced children share what they have learned while reinforcing their own knowledge, while at the same time developing mentoring skills and sharpening their leadership qualities. Because peer group learning is intrinsic to Montessori, there are often more conversational language experiences in the Montessori classroom than in conventional early education settings.

“All our handling of the child will bear fruit, not only at the moment, but in the adult they are to become.”
Maria Montessori

Montessori Articles

Montessori Guide: Delving Deeper Into Our Practice

The Association Montessori International/USA is pleased to premiere this new online resource tool for Montessorians and anyone interested about Montessori. It has long been their intention to find innovative and unique ways to support Montessori teachers in their daily work to meet the needs of children. This visionary project is now a reality as a result of an initiative undertaken by AMI/USA. Learn more and watch some amazing videos here: Montessori Guide: Delving Deeper into our Practice

Montessori: The Missing Voice in the Education Reform Debate

Over a century ago, Dr. Maria Montessori discovered through scientific observations of children that they are not empty vessels to be filled — they are intrinsically motivated doers. She saw that providing a hands-on learning environment that valued choice, concentration, collaboration, community, curiosity, and real-world application produced lifelong learners who viewed “work” as something interesting and fulfilling instead of drudgery to be avoided. To read more: Montessori: The Missing Voice in the Education Reform Debate

The Timing and Quality of  Early Experiences Combine to Shape Brain Architecture

The foundations of brain architecture are established early in life through a continuous series of dynamic interactions in which environmental conditions and personal experiences have a significant impact on how genetic predispositions are expressed.Because specific experiences affect specific brain circuits during specific developmental stages—referred to as sensitive periods—it is vitally important to take advantage of these early opportunities in the developmental building process. That is to say, the quality of a child’s early environment and the availability of appropriate experiences at the right stages of development are crucial in determining the strength or weakness of the brain’s architecture, which, in turn, determines how well he or she will be able to think and to regulate emotions. To read more: Harvard University Study

Young Children Develop in an Environment of Relationships

Healthy development depends on the quality and reliability of a young child’s relationships with the important people in his or her life, both within and outside the family. Even the development of a child’s brain architecture depends on the establishment of these rela­tionships. To read more: Harvard University Study

Montessori Madness! A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education

by Trevor Eissler

“We know we need to improve our traditional school system, both public and private. But how? Better-qualified teachers? Longer school days or school years? More testing? More funding? No, no, no, no and no. Montessori Madness! explains why the incremental steps politicians and administrators continue to propose are incremental steps in the wrong direction. The entire system must be turned on its head. This book asks parents to take a look – one thirty-minute observation- at a Montessori school. Your picture of what education should look like will never be the same.” Join the discussion at or watch a short video.

Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius

by Angeline Stoll Lillard, An Vu

“Traditional American schooling is in constant crisis because it is based on two poor models for children’s learning: the school as a factory and the child as a blank slate. School reforms repeatedly fail by not penetrating these models. One hundred years ago, Maria Montessori, the first female physician in Italy, devised a very different method of educating children, based on her observations of how they naturally learn. Does Montessori education provide a viable alternative to traditional schooling? Do Dr. Montessori’s theories and practices stand up to the scrutiny of modern-day developmental psychology? Can developmental psychology tell us anything about how and why Montessori methods work? In Montessori, Angeline Stoll Lillard shows that science has finally caught up with Maria Montessori: Current scientific research provides astounding support for her major insights. Lillard presents the research concerning eight insights that are foundational to Montessori education and describe how each of these insights is applied in the Montessori classroom.”
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