What is Montessori?

DSC_0377 (1)“The Montessori system was created by an Italian woman, Dr. Maria Montessori. Dr. Montessori had as her watchwords LOVE, WATCH, and WAIT. In the Montessori classrooms the teachers’ task is not to dominate, but to ‘draw out’ the minds of the three, four, and five year olds, to teach them to learn reading, writing, mathematics, music, and manners, by the use of dozens of different playthings – toys which really are tools to be used to awaken thought, logic, personal relationships and abstract conception.”
-Harold H. Martin, 2011
Dr. Montessori’s method allows the child to make her own choices, exercise courtesy, be independent and enjoy learning. But how, specifically, does Dr. Montessori’s approach achieve this? You can learn more about the Montessori method easily:

(1) Ask the experts Steven Hughes, a pediatric neuropsychologist and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics & Neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, describes Montessori education as:

“…a brain-based developmental education method that allows children to make creative choices in how they discover the people, places and knowledge of the world.  It emphasizes hands-on learning, self-expression and collaborative play in a beautifully crafted environment of respect, peace and joy.” 

Click here to listen to an interview with Dr. Steve Hughs. 
Peter Davidson, the Chairman of MAA, a board member of AMI, and a head of school, describes Maria Montessori’s approach:

“As a scientist, Maria Montessori discovered something surprising: When children are active participants, when their choices are respected and guided, and when responsibility is expected and nurtured, a new child emerges. This child’s characteristics are concentration, self-discipline, love of learning, and a respect for others and the world. This child is our best hope for the future. Share the hope. Experience the surprise. Visit a Montessori school today.”

There are also several reliable online sources of information about Montessori education. The Montessori Administrators Association (MAA), an affiliate of the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI),  is a group of U.S. Montessori school heads. Their website provides excellent background on the philosophy of Montessori and publishes a blog about Montessori education. One of the most reliable sources of information about Montessori is the North American Montessori Teachers’ Association (NAMTA),  a membership organization open to parents, teachers, and anyone else interested in Montessori education. Be sure to visit their page on common misconceptions about Montessori education. (2) Visit a Montessori school nearby  Take note of the children’s activities. You will notice the buzz and hum of active children. Each of them may be engaged with a friend or may be absorbed in independent work unique materials.  (3) Check the accreditation of the school  Look for AMI certification, Department of Education certification, and Office of Childcare approval.  (4) Look at our Frequently Asked Questions for more info.