Montessori is a philosophy of education developed by Dr. Maria Montessori at the turn of the twentieth century. Dr. Montessori said of her philosophy, “Our aim is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his inmost core.”
Montessori philosophy differs from traditional school systems in three primary ways. The first is through the use of multi-age classrooms. This allows for a more natural progression of learning through the childhood years without the barriers of nine month increments. Children receive lessons in the things they are ready for and interested in within the three year cycle, while always meeting state guidelines. The young child looks to the older child for guidance both socially and in the academic arena. This in turn gives the older child a sense of responsibility and leadership.
A second philosophical principle involves the child’s development of abstract understanding from sequenced concrete experiences. The child gains thorough understanding of introduced concepts.
The final principle focuses on having an individualized program for each child. In the Montessori classroom, children are honored for who they are, and for where they are in their personal development. Each child’s strengths are recognized and built upon.
The Montessori approach to education is grounded in the belief that children have a dynamic inner desire to explore and learn about their environment. All children carry within themselves the person they will become. Developing the physical, intellectual, and spiritual potential to the fullest requires freedom – freedom achieved through order and self-discipline. A prepared and stimulating environment allows children to learn at their own pace, according to their own capabilities in a non-competitive atmosphere.