Why Montessori?

Montessori Baker’s Dozen

Here are 13 reasons why a Montessori education is worth the early long-term investment, making it priceless, and ultimately the best way to learn.

  • A proven format of education that has been in use over 100 years and in more than 22,000 schools worldwide. It works. It’s not affected by legislative changes.
  • Educating the whole child: physically, academically, socially and emotionally. Preparing the child for life, not just the academic portion, including practical skills carried on at home and in the community.
  • An educational experience based on a three year developmental cycle in the same environment. This provides the child a beginning, middle and end process to fully envelop the learning opportunities, and it allows the teacher to get to know and understand the child and how to best guide her to her fullest potential.
  • Fosters self-direction, allowing the child independent thinking in order to build problem-solving skills and creativity, now on high demand from colleges and employers.
  • Freedom for children to work at their own pace, without interruption, choosing from a range of activities that are developmentally challenging and appropriate.
  • Exploration is encouraged so that children find things out for themselves, make mistakes and correct them independently.
  • Mixed age groups enable children to learn from others and later, teach it themselves. It also allows for a variety of abilities and levels in advancement without obvious transitions.
  • Working with the concrete materials before moving to the abstraction. The child interacts with materials to internalize the concept rather than be told “this is what it is.”
  • The value of intrinsic joy as the reward for personal accomplishment is understood and implemented. No candy, no star charts, no grades.
  • Focuses on the individual child. Every child has an I.E.P.(Individual Educational Plan), not just the ones who are delayed.
  • Teachers that are trained in child development based on the profound teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori and understand the importance of the prepared environment/classroom and its link to the children.
  • Respect for each child as an individual personality with unique talents and weaknesses.
  • Respect for oneself, others, the community, and the environment.

Fanning the Inner Flame

Who is Dr. Montessori?

Italian physician Maria Montessori was a pioneer of theories in early childhood education, which are still implemented in Montessori schools all over the globe.

Early Life

Maria Montessori was born on August 31, 1870, in the provincial town of Chiaravalle, Italy, to middle-class, well-educated parents. At the time that Montessori was growing up, Italy held conservative values about women's roles. From a young age, she consistently broke out of those proscribed gender limitations. After the family moved to Rome, when she was 14, Montessori attended classes at a boys' technical institute, where she further developed her aptitude for math and her interest in the sciences—particularly biology.

Facing her father's resistance but armed with her mother's support, Montessori went on to graduate with high honors from the medical school of the University of Rome in 1896.

Early Childhood Education Research

As a doctor, Montessori chose pediatrics and psychiatry as her specialties. While teaching at her medical-school alma mater, Montessori treated many poor and working-class children who attended the free clinics there. During that time, she observed that intrinsic intelligence was present in children of all socio-economic backgrounds.

Montessori became the director of the Orthophrenic School for developmentally disabled children in 1900. There she began to extensively research early childhood development and education. Her reading included the studies of 18th and 19th century French physicians Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard and Édouard Séguin, who had experimented with the capabilities of disabled children. Montessori began to conceptualize her own method of applying their educational theories, which she tested through hands-on scientific observation of students at the Orthophrenic School. Montessori found the resulting improvement in students' development remarkable. She spread her research findings in speeches throughout Europe, also using her platform to advocate for women's and children's rights.

Educational Legacy

Montessori's success with developmentally disabled children spurred her desire to test her teaching methods on "normal" children. In 1907 the Italian government afforded her that opportunity. Montessori was placed in charge of 60 students from the slums, ranging in age from 1 to 6. The school, called Casa dei Bambini (or Children's House), enabled Montessori to create the "prepared learning" environment she believed was conducive to sense learning and creative exploration. Teachers were encouraged to stand back and "follow the child"—that is, to let children's natural interests take the lead. Over time, Montessori tweaked her methods through trial and error. Her writings further served to spread her ideology throughout Europe and the United States.

Once World War II began, Montessori was forced to flee to India, where she developed a program called Education for Peace. Her work with the program earned her two Nobel Peace Prize nominations.

Montessori died on May 6, 1952, in Noordwijk aan Zee, Netherlands.