The Montessori Method of education, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood. Dr. Montessori’s Method has been used for over 100 years in many parts of the world.
The Montessori method views the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It attempts to develop children physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively.
Although a range of practices exist under the name “Montessori”, the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the American Montessori Society (AMS) cite these elements as essential:
- Mixed age classrooms; classrooms for children ages 21⁄2 or 3 to 6 years old are by far the most common, but 0–3, 6–9, 9–12, 12–15, and 15–18 year-old classrooms exist as well.
- Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options.
- Uninterrupted blocks of work time, ideally three hours.
- A constructivist or “discovery” model, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction.
- Specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators often made out of natural, aesthetic materials such as wood, rather than plastic.
- A thoughtfully prepared environment where materials are organized by subject area, within reach of the child, and are appropriate in size.
- Freedom of movement within the classroom.
- A trained Montessori teacher who follows the child and is highly experienced in observing the individual child’s characteristics, tendencies, innate talents and abilities.
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