Choosing a Montessori School – What Does Montessori Mean?

Dr. Maria Montessori was strongly devoted to the education of Rome’s underprivileged children. Her philosophies, visionary methods, and insight into how children learn ignited an educational movement which has become popular around the world.

Montessori education emphasizes learning through hands-on experiences and the use of all five senses, not just by listening, watching, or reading. Dr. Montessori used scientific observations of children to better understand the inner nature of a child. Many of these observations were incorporated into the teaching philosophies of Montessori schools, including the following:

  • A child is a dynamic, curious person that has an inner need to know the world.
  • A child comes to know the world through the senses. Experiences that develop and refine the sense are fundamental to learning. The curriculum area of sensorial in the Montessori classroom aids children in the development and refinement of the sense, allowing them to explore and learn.
  • A child is auto-educated, meaning they construct knowledge through physically manipulating the environment. Handling of the environment, allows children to construct mental images, laying the foundation for later abstractions.
  • A child learns based on personal interest. It is important to give children freedom to select activities that are highly interesting to them. The Montessori classroom contains hundreds of colorful, exciting materials that are of interest to children.
  • A child repeats activities until they are fully mastered. A Montessori class provides long, uninterrupted times in the morning and in the afternoon for the child to concentrate on activities.
  • A child is orderly and focused. The calm, respectful, orderly atmosphere of a Montessori classroom meets a child’s inner need for an atmosphere that supports concentration.

Based on these observations, Dr. Montessori designed what she called a “prepared environment” in which children could freely choose from a variety of developmentally appropriate activities. A Montessori environment provides a joyous, purposeful education experience that has been time-tested, with over 100 years of success in diverse cultures throughout the world.

More in this series:

8 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Montessori School