What is Montessori?

Student in class drawing a map

Montessori is an educational philosophy developed in the early 1900s by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician. It was her belief that children have a natural desire to learn, and with the right materials and structuring, school could be a place where children are self-directed learners, collaborators and problem-solvers.

Montessori children make creative and independent choices in discovering the people, places and knowledge of the world. There is an emphasis on hands-on, personalized learning, self-expression and citizenship in a carefully crafted school environment of respect, peace and joy.

The Eight Principles of Montessori Education

  1. Thinking and learning are enhanced by movement
  2. Learning and well-being are improved when we have a sense of control over our lives
  3. We learn best when we are interested in what we are learning
  4. Tying extrinsic rewards to an activity – like money for reading or high grades for tests – negatively impacts motivation to engage in that activity when the reward is withdrawn
  5. Children learn well from and with peers and respond well to collaborative learning situations
  6. Our learning is deeper and richer when learning is situated in meaningful contexts as opposed to abstract contexts
  7. Particular forms of adult interaction are associated with more optimal child outcomes
  8. Order, routine and ritual help children thrive

From Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius

The Montessori Experience

Traditional ClassroomMontessori Environment
Textbooks, pencil and paper, worksheets and photocopiesPrepared kinesthetic materials with incorporated control of error, specially developed reference materials
Working and learning without emphasis on social developmentWorking and learning matched to the social development of the child
Narrow, unit-driven curriculumUnified, internationally developed curriculum
Individual subjectsIntegrated subjects and learning based on developmental psychology
Block time, period lessonsUninterrupted work cycles
Single-graded classroomsMulti-age classrooms
Students passive, quiet, in desksStudents active, talking, with periods of spontaneous quiet, freedom to move
Product-focused report cardsProcess-focused assessment, skills checklists, mastery benchmarks

Additional information about Montessori Education: