What is Montessori?

The Montessori Method

Created by Dr. Maria Montessori over years of careful research, observation and building on how children naturally learn, the Montessori Method is a child-centered approach to education that is currently practiced in over 22,000 schools worldwide and encourages individuality, independence, and above all, a love of learning.


Multi-age grouping accommodates the child’s biological clock rather than relying on age as the primary indicator for readiness with instruction. Peer cooperation and peer tutoring increases achievement and self-esteem in both the older and younger child. There is the added advantage that students and teachers enjoy the experience of being together for more than one year. In a multi-age classroom there are also established models so that teachers are spending less time teaching the classroom routines. Ultimately, multi-age grouping offers increased flexibility and learning to the child’s individual needs.

The Montessori approach is a system of education, which encompasses both a philosophy of the child’s growth and a rationale for guiding such growth. It is based on the child’s developmental needs for freedom within limits. In addition, a carefully prepared environment guarantees exposure to material and experiences to develop intelligence as well as physical and psychological abilities. It is designed to take full advantage of the self-motivation process, the unique abilities of children, and to allow them to develop their own capabilities and inner gifts.


The School has a goal to create a stimulating and cooperative environment rather than a competitive environment. It is important for the children to develop a joy and enthu­siasm for learning.


The Montessori approach typically appeals to people from diverse and colorful back grounds. We as a School wish to expose and educate our children about the exciting diversity that makes up our society. The children will learn to embrace and respect the differences within our popu­lation today. The children will learn and be exposed to different cultures and traditions from all over the world.

Montessori Learning Environment


The focus of activity in the Montessori setting is on children’s learning, not on teacher’s teaching. Generally students will work individually or in small, self-selected groups. There will be very few whole group lessons.


The environment should be designed to meet the needs, interests, abilities, and development of the children in the class. The teachers should design and adapt the environment with this community of children in mind, rapidly modifying the selection of educational materials available, the physical layout, and the tone of the class to best fit the ever changing needs of the children.


Within a Montessori program, children progress at their own pace, moving on to the next step in each area of learning as they are ready. While the child lives within a larger community of children, each student is viewed as a universe of one.


It is natural for children to wiggle, touch things, and explore the world around them. Any true Montessori environment encourages children to move about freely, within reasonable limits of appropriate behavior. Much of the time they select work that captures their interest and attention, although teachers also strive to draw their attention and capture their interest in new challenges and areas of inquiry. And even within this atmosphere of spontaneous activity, students do eventually have to master the basic skills of their culture, even if they would prefer to avoid them.


In Montessori, students rarely learn from texts or workbooks. In all cases, direct personal hands-on contact with either real things under study or with concrete models that bring abstract concepts to life, allowing children to learn with much deeper understanding.


One of Montessori’s key concepts is the idea that children are driven by their desire to become independent and competent beings in the world to learn new things and master new skills. For this reason, outside rewards to create external motivation are both unnecessary and potentially can lead to passive adults who are dependent on others for everything from their self-image to permission to follow their dreams. In the process of making independent choices and exploring concepts largely on their own, Montessori children construct their own sense of individual identity and right and wrong.


Montessori children enjoy considerable freedom of movement and choice; however their freedom always exists within carefully defined limits on the range of their behavior. They are free to do anything appropriate to the ground rules of the community, but redirected promptly and firmly if they cross over the line.

Montessori Teacher Approach


The teacher is firm at the edges and empathetic at the center, the kind of adult who responds empathetically to children’s feelings, while setting clear and consistent limits.


The Montessori teacher is a trained observer of children’s learning and behavior. These careful observations are recorded and used to infer where each student is in terms of his or her development, and leads the teacher to know when to intervene in the child’s learning with a new lesson, a fresh challenge, or a reinforcement of basic ground rules.


Montessori teachers facilitate the learning process by serving as a resource to whom the children can turn as they pull together information, impressions, and experiences.


Like all great teachers, the Montessori educator deliberately models the behaviors and attitudes that she is working to instill in her students. Because of Montessori’s emphasis on character development, the Montessori teacher normally is exceptionally calm, kind, warm, and polite to each child.


The Montessori teacher recognizes that her role is not so much to teach as to inspire, mentor, and facilitate the learning process. The real work of learning belongs to the individual child. Because of this, the Montessori educator remains conscious of her role in helping each child to fulfill his potential as a human and of creating an environment for learning within which children will feel safe, cherished, and empowered.


Montessori teachers are trained to identify the best response to the changing interests and needs of each child as a unique individual. Because they truly accept that children learn in many different ways and at their own pace, Montessori educators understand that they must “follow the child,” adjusting their strategies and timetable to fit the development of each of their pupils.


Montessori teachers organize appropriate social settings and academic programs for children at their own level of development. They do this to a large degree through the design of the classroom, selection and organization of learning activities, and structure of the day.

* Some of the excerpts above were drawn from The Authentic American Montessori School: A Guide to the Self-Study, Evaluation, and Accreditation of American Schools Committed to Montessori Education, by Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambush and Dr. John Stoops, published in 1992 by the Commission on Elementary Schools of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the American Montessori Society. Sourced from Tomorrow’s Child Magazine; Volume 6, Number 3, 1998; pages 6 – 8.