What is Montessori?
Dr. Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and pioneer in child development who observed that children have an innate ability and desire to learn about their world. Montessori’s approach of “following the child” is at the root of our philosophy at Alegria Montessori School. An authentic Montessori environment encompasses the following principles:
Mixed Age Groups
A fundamental component of the Montessori philosophy is the multi-age classroom. In a mixed group, children of various ages and backgrounds share their talents and interests. Older children serve as role models and solidify their understanding of their work by giving lessons to younger classmates. Children are exposed to a greater variety of content and are inspired by the work of others. Younger children are embraced by an established classroom community.
Montessori classrooms are designed to meet children’s physical, cognitive, and social needs. Child-sized furniture and hands-on materials engage children in independent work. A beautiful ordered work environment allows them to develop internal order and discipline. Open areas and group tables encourage collaboration and teamwork.
Montessori materials feature hands-on materials that introduce concepts on a concrete level. These early hands-on experiences allow the child to make the leap to deep and abstract understanding. Most materials include a control of error, allowing the child to check her own work without relying upon an adult.
Freedom with Responsibility
Children are given as much freedom as they can handle responsibly. Students are free to choose their work, decide where and how to complete it, and with whom they collaborate. The teacher guides this process, providing as much (or as little) structure as each student needs.
The Montessori curriculum is deep and broad. Rather than the child conforming to a set program, in which the entire class must complete the same work simultaneously, each child in the Montessori classroom receives the lessons for which he is ready and pursues his own interests. This flexibility allows children the time they need to fully absorb concepts and the ability to pursue work that is both exciting and challenging.
Peace education and lessons in Grace and Courtesy are two major components of your child’s Montessori experience. Starting at the earliest ages, children learn to respect the work of their peers, speak calmly without interrupting, and care for the other children, animals, and plants in their classrooms. At the older levels, children learn to resolve arguments with one another at a Peace Table and begin to extend their service and stewardship outwards to the greater community.
“The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own desire to learn.”
The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori (and many others by this author)
Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard
Montessori Today: A Comprehensive Approach to Education from Birth to Adulthood by Paula Polk Lillard
How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin and Vanessa Davies
Montessori Madness by Trevor Eissler
American Montessori Society’s Research Library – A fantastic resource for journal articles, dissertations, and resources
Maitri Learning Research – Links to controlled, peer-reviewed clinical studies in direct and indirect support of the Montessori method
North American Montessori Teachers’ Association (NAMTA) Research – Research from NAMTA’s current and past journals.
AMI-USA – Parent Resources – A mixture of articles, videos, and resources to help parents learn more about Montessori education
Articles, Essays & Blogs:
MariaMontessori.com – A wonderful overview of the method
Aid to Life – A site we expect will be especially helpful to Toddler parents
Kids Talk – A blog by Montessorian Maren Stark Schmidt
“Montessori Builds Innovators” – Harvard Business Review
“The Montessori Mafia” – The Wall Street Journal
Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity – TED Talk
“How Google’s Larry Page became a responsible entrepreneur” – The Guardian
“Is Montessori The Origin of Google & Amazon?” – Forbes
“A Peek Inside a Montessori Classroom” – Glimpses of the work Montessori students do
“A Montessori Morning” – An entire morning work cycle, compressed into five minutes
“Trevor Eissler ‘Montessori Madness!’” – 321 FastDraw – A parent’s thoughts on why to choose a Montessori school
Montessori Guide: Video Gallery