What is Montessori Education?
Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. In Montessori classrooms children make creative choices in their learning, while the classroom and the teacher offer age-appropriate activities to guide the process. Children work in groups and individually to discover and explore knowledge of the world and to develop their maximum potential.
Montessori classrooms are beautifully crafted environments designed to meet the needs of children in a specific age range. Dr. Maria Montessori discovered that experiential learning in this type of classroom led to a deeper understanding of language, mathematics, science, music, social interactions and much more. Most Montessori classrooms are secular in nature, although the Montessori educational method can be integrated successfully into a faith-based program.
Every material in a Montessori classroom supports an aspect of child development, creating a match between the child’s natural interests and the available activities. Children can learn through their own experience and at their own pace. They can respond at any moment to the natural curiosities that exist in all humans and build a solid foundation for life-long learning.
The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) was established by Maria Montessori in 1929 to protect the integrity of her work and to support high standards for both teacher training and schools. Today, AMI continues to uphold Maria Montessori’s vision while collaborating with contemporary research in neuroscience and child development. The Montessori Institute Northwest is proud to be an official teacher training center of AMI.
Montessori environments support the learning of children from birth to middle school:
Infant/Toddler – for children aged birth to three years
- provide a safe, engaging and nurturing environment for the child
- promote trust in themselves and their world
- develop confidence in their emerging abilities
- develop gross motor coordination, fine motor skills, and language skills
offer opportunities to gain independence in daily tasks
Primary (also called the Casa or Children’s House) – for children aged three to six years
- foster the growth of functional independence, task persistence and self-regulation
- promote social development through respectful, clear communication and safe, natural consequences
- contain a large variety of materials for the refinement of sensory perception and the development of literacy and mathematical understanding
offer opportunities for imaginative exploration leading to confident, creative self-expression
Elementary – for children aged six to twelve years (Lower Elementary, ages six to nine; Upper Elementary, ages nine to twelve)
- offer opportunities for collaborative intellectual exploration in which the child’s interests are supported and guided
- support the development of self-confidence, imagination, intellectual independence and self-efficacy
foster an understanding of the child’s role in their community, in their culture and in the natural world
Adolescence (also called Erdkinder or Farm Schools) – for adolescents aged twelve to fifteen years
- ideally a working farm in which adolescents engage in all aspects of farm administration and economic interdependence, but also include non-farm environments in urban settings
- assist the young adult in the understanding of oneself in wider and wider frames of reference
- provide a context for practical application of academics
- emphasize the development of self-expression, true self-reliance, and agility in interpersonal relationships.
- Dr. Montessori died before the educational approach to this level was completed. Consequently, there is currently no AMI teacher training program for this level. However, many Montessori adolescent learning environments exist, with Montessori professionals working towards standards for this level.
Above all, Montessori classrooms at all levels nurture each child’s individual strengths and interests. Montessori education encourages children to explore their world, and to understand and respect the life forms, systems and forces of which it consists.