The Montessori method was established in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori. She was the first female to become a physician in Italy. As a scientist, she first observed children and their learning process. Through her observations she discovered that children teach themselves from experiencing the environment they are in. This lead her to design the “prepared environment” which is a learning environment designed with “developmentally appropriate” material for children to choose freely.
Dr. Montessori designed the educational system so that the child learns using all five senses, where he moves from concrete learning to abstract learning. Traditionally children learn mainly by listening, watching or reading, and they learn to follow pre set patterns or formulas which are mainly abstract. The Montessori child learns on his / her own, at his / her own pace, choosing freely the topics and activities he / she would like to explore. The prepared environment of a Montessori class holds hundreds of topics and activities. In this class, learning is an exciting journey of exploration which leads to self motivation, self correction, self discipline, focus and accountability, where the child will cultivate the love of learning.
In Montessori, classes are divided into three year age groups 0-3yrs, 3-6 yrs, 6-9yrs, 9-12yrs and so on. This allows the natural learning of a young child, who looks to his older peers for learning, and the older child who becomes proficient of his knowledge by teaching the younger peers, to occur. It creates a community of students who are empathetic, patient and confident.
The two major organizations offering Montessori training in the United States are the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI, with a U.S. branch office called AMI-USA) and the American Montessori Society (AMS). Most training centers require a bachelor’s degree for admission. Training ranges from 200 to 600 pre-service contact hours and covers principles of child development and Montessori philosophy as well as specific uses of the Montessori classroom materials. Montessori training centers can be found across North America and around the world.
NAMTA research studies have found that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. They have found that they score well on standardized tests, and are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking thought provoking questions, coming up with creative solutions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations with ease.