What is Montessori?
Montessori is named after Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian educator of the early 20th century. She developed the teaching approach we now call the Montessori Method, which emphasizes hands-on, individualized learning within a child-centered, mixed-age group classroom. Although best known as an educator, Dr. Montessori's formal training was as a scientist and medical doctor and she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times.
Dr. Maria Montessori observed that children had a natural drive, an inner directive, to learn. Given the right conditions, one would not have to teach or impart knowledge. Instead, in the right environment, children would learn spontaneously, following their natural instincts. Thus, Dr. Montessori developed her educational philosophy as a result of her scientific observations. She based her approach on the belief that children are individuals with their own strengths, needs, likes and learning styles. Her teaching strategies and her discoveries into the process of learning revolutionized the field of education and profoundly influenced children's education all around the world. Today, Montessori schools most commonly encompass preschool and elementary grade levels. However, the Montessori approach is also extremely successful in middle and high schools.
What are the Montessori Materials?
Children in a Montessori classroom are exposed to many complex concepts at an early age through specially designed Montessori materials. These hands-on learning tools are child-centered and enable them to literally see and explore abstract concepts. The same materials can be used over the course of multiple years and ‘grow’ with the child as they can be used in progressively complicated ways.
The materials are presented to the child at the appropriate stage in his or her development by a trained Montessori teacher. They allow the child to engage in self-directed, purposeful activity. The materials are easily accessible and children are able to use them spontaneously and independently.