What is Montessori?
Montessori is an education method named after its founder, Maria Montessori, an Italian scientist, medical doctor and educator. First developed for low-income and special-needs children in 1907, Montessori education now serves children from birth to age 18 in schools across the world. The Montessori method focuses on children’s unique development and abilities, emphasizing individualized learning experiences, problem-solving and social development. Teachers are considered guides to knowledge, not directors of learning. There are early childhood, elementary, middle school, and high school Montessori programs, each requiring specialized teacher preparation.
Why is Montessori education unique?
- Commitment to equity — Children’s unique cultures are represented in the classroom environment, curriculum and activities.
- Hands-on learning — Children learn through observation and experimentation, engaging with objects, ideas and events to problem-solve and develop an understanding of how the world works.
- Individualized instruction — Montessori’s emphasis on personalized instruction supports each child’s unique development and abilities while encouraging children to stretch and challenge themselves to explore new ideas and goals.
- Teachers as guides — In Montessori classrooms, the teacher serves as a guide and co-constructor of knowledge rather than a director of learning. Teachers make thoughtful and intentional instructional decisions believing in the child’s ability to learn and grow, and supporting them in this work.
- Classroom collaboration — Collaborative relationships between teachers and children, children and children, and the school and families foster a sense of community to support each child.
- Emphasis on the whole child — The classroom environment is intentionally designed to allow children to develop socially, academically and physically.
- Multi-age classrooms — Montessori schools group children according to their plane of development which Maria Montessori observed to be defined in distinct three-year periods: Birth to 3 years old, 3 to 6 years old, 6 to 9 years old, 9 to 12 years old and so on. These multi-age groupings allow for the classroom community to thrive as children learn from each other and teachers, as they also benefit from long-term relationships with children and families.
For more information about Montessori education, or other program details, please contact UDMTR director Linda Zankowsky via the following webform: