“Montessori is founded on the belief that children are capable of self-development and that they will reach their true potential when they are helped to find their own path in an environment that is specifically tailored to their needs at each stage of their development.”

Aid to Life
Dr. Maria Montessori (1919). Source: https://www.montessoricentenary.org/photos/

The Montessori Method (“Montessori”) takes its name from the Italian Doctor Maria Montessori (1870-1952) who pioneered an approach to education based on her observations of children. A medical doctor, philosopher, and educator, Dr. Montessori dedicated her life to scientifically understanding human development from conception through young adulthood. The approach has been joyfully employed around the world for over a hundred years.

Dr. Montessori worked extensively with children. Over the course of her life, she developed an educational pedagogy focused on following the child and providing spaces and materials that meet the child’s specific needs at every stage of development.

For many people, the word “Montessori” tends to conjure up thoughts of preschool-aged children, but the approach is not limited to those alone. Many of the methods can be implemented from birth.

Some basic Montessori principles:

  1. Children have different needs at different times in their lives.
  2. Children have a special way of learning.
  3. Children have a natural urge to learn.
  4. Children have unique windows of opportunity for learning.

The Montessori approach provides:

  • An environment that serves the particular needs of each child’s stage of development.
  • An adult who understands child development and acts as a guide to help children find their own natural path.
  • Freedom for children to engage in their own development according to their own particular developmental timeline.

Some Sample Montessori Practices for ages 0-3:

  • Create an environment with things that will encourage your child to move.
  • Allow time for him to practice moving at his own pace and rhythm.
  • Prepare the environment for good communication, which means preparing yourself and other family members, because you are the child’s environment for language.
  • Connect your child to the environment through talking, listening, and reading.
  • Make time for your child to absorb your words and practice speaking.
  • Create an accessible environment.
  • Show your child how to do daily activities that lead to independence.
  • Create an environment that fosters self-disicpline.
  • Connect your child to the life going on around her through involving her in practical activities and offering her choices.
  • Make time for your child to be involved in activities around the home, whilst working at her own pace and respect her work and play choices.

Source: Aid to Life

The Montessori Method recognizes the huge importance of the first three years of life. This formative period provides the foundation for future academic capacities but also influences their ability to concentrate, problem solve, and socialize with others.

Dr. Montessori believed “within the child lies the fate of the future”. Therefore, the goal of all early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn, and to ultimately create an educated, cultured, compassionate human being who uses his faculties to work for world peace.

Source: Dr. Montessori in India with an infant; c. 1940

‘We must respect the child and he must understand that he is respected. He needs to be prepared for everything that is going to be done for him…Democracy begins at birth. The child must know what is going to happen to him, that he will not be seized suddenly, that his permission will be asked first’ (Montessori, 2012, p.128)

Montessori, M. (2012) The 1946 London Lectures. Amsterdam: Montessori-Pierson Publishing

What is Montessori Education?

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