The Montessori Method
The Montessori Method is a holistic approach to learning focused on the whole development of the child. With encouragement and support, students discover their unique talents and missions in life.
A Unique Approach to Learning
The Montessori Method is a unique approach to learning that meets the needs of students with disabilities, the gifted and talented, and all students in between in an inclusive, supportive environment. Developed by Maria Montessori, an Italian educator and physician in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Montessori Method is a highly sensorial and tactile instructional program.
Montessori provides hands-on learning materials for all subject areas. Children experience the curriculum with all five senses and develop skills by engaging in physical activities. Movement is essential to learning in the Montessori classroom. Children enjoy uninterrupted work periods, which allow them to focus intently on what they are learning. Teachers observe students and present new material when students master concepts and skills. Montessori is child-centered, and we treat students with great respect. Students enjoy a great deal of freedom to guide their own learning within a highly structured and orderly environment.
The Montessori Environment
The Montessori classroom incorporates beautiful, open spaces with furniture and shelves sized to accommodate children. We arrange classrooms into “areas,” each area has “works” (educational objects) that address particular subject areas. Each work has a specific purpose intended to teach children as they learn to use it correctly. These intentionally developed, self-correcting works teach students to correct their own mistakes instead of relying on a teacher to give them the correct answer. Students learn to work independently and cooperatively, and to respect the space and privacy of others.
The Montessori Curriculum
Is a Montessori Education Right for my Child?
Ask yourself the following questions, and if you answer “no” to most of these, Montessori may not be right for your child:
- Is your child a hands-on learner?
- Is your child highly self-motivated?
- If he/she isn’t self-motivated, are you willing to make helping your child learn self-motivation a priority for possibly several months?
- Does your child respond better to one-on-one or small-group instruction as opposed to whole-class instruction?
- Are you interested in having your child work together with other students who may be a peer, one year older, or one year younger?
- Do you prefer a teacher who will work with you and find ways to adapt to the needs of your child?
- Are you open to the presentation of scientific explanations about the origins of the universe and the development of life (i.e. Big Bang, evolution)?
- Is a very small amount of homework something you are okay with?
- Can you support your child even if he/she chooses to take a break from schoolwork occasionally? Our teachers provide plenty of work for students and encourage them to stay on task; however, on occasion students do not feel well, are tired, or just can’t concentrate and need a break. We allow for that.
- Are you okay with your child working where he/she chooses (i.e. at a table, on the floor, standing up)?
- Are you okay with narrative reports about your child’s progress (as opposed to letter grades) in first through fourth grade?
- Do you have the patience to wait three years to see your child gain full mastery of academic skills? Our school uses regular parent-teacher conferences, weekly updates, observations, STAR, spelling, ISAT, and IRI test scores to provide updates along the way.
- Are you comfortable placing your child in an environment free of commercialism and where socio-economic differences are inconspicuous?
- Do you prefer that your children gain an internal love of learning (as opposed to outside influences such as verbal praise, rewards, stickers, grades, etc.)?
- Does your child work best when he/she can move at his/her own pace (as opposed to the pace of the whole class)?
- Are you familiar with the Montessori approach to learning?
Online Videos & Resources
Watch and Listen:
- Nurturing the Love of Learning: Montessori Education for the Preschool Years
An informative, 10-minute video produced by the American Montessori Society (AMS) explains the Montessori Method. You will immediately see how different the Montessori approach is.
- Do Schools Kill Creativity?
Ken Robinson, author and educator
- Montessori Visual Activities: Blue Triangles with Tami Elliot
See the Montessori teaching method in action.
- The Center for Guided Montessori Studies
Curriculum sample videos
- Montessori Primary Guide
Classroom activity demonstrations
- The Montessori Foundation
A great resource of basic information that every Montessori parent should know.
- The Montessori Method: An Education for Creating Innovators
Benefits of a Montessori Education
- Montessori education nurtures independence and responsibility in learning.
- Students flourish in the Montessori classroom when they work hard, self-govern, practice consideration of others, and have a deep curiosity about their world. The natural result is a creative individual who pursues his or her own strengths and uses them to succeed in all areas of life.
Recommended Reading List for Parents
Enjoy these introductory books and articles about Maria Montessori and Montessori education.
- Lillard, Paula P. (1996). Montessori Today. New York: Random House. Order through NAMTA or from your local bookstore. ISBN 0-8052-1061-X, 207 pages, bibliography, index.
Describes Montessori theory and contemporary American Montessori schools serving ages ranging from birth to adulthood.
- Lillard, Paula P.; Jessen, Lynn L. (2003). Montessori from the Start. New York: Schocken. Order through NAMTA or from your local bookstore. ISBN 0805211128. 304 pages.
What parents can do to help their youngest children in the process of self-formation.
- Montessori, Maria. (1948). To Educate the Human Potential. Madras, India: Kalakshetra Publications. Order Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company edition through NAMTA.
Describes the needs of the elementary-aged child in the process of acquiring culture.
- Montessori, Maria. (1949). The Absorbent Mind. Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House. Order Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company edition through NAMTA. U.S. edition can be ordered online through Amazon.com.
Discusses the development of infants and young children from birth to three years. Gives a clear explanation of the basis of Montessori theory and method.
- Montessori, Maria. (1956). The Child in the Family. Chicago: Henry Regnery. Order Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company edition through NAMTA.
A series of short essays about the child, the family, and the school, with a philosophical emphasis.
- Montessori, Maria. (1973). From Childhood to Adolescence. New York: Schocken. Order Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company edition through NAMTA.
Discusses the development and education of the child from age seven through adolescence. Includes Dr. Montessori’s thoughts on university education.
- Standing, E. M. (1957). Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work. London: Hollis and Carter. Order through NAMTA.
Covers Maria Montessori’s life, how she developed Montessori education, its theoretical basis, and the worldwide growth of the Montessori movement.
The following books offer in-depth information about Montessori education:
- Kramer, Rita. (1976). Maria Montessori: A Biography. New York: Putnam’s. Order online through Amazon.com.
- Montessori, Maria. (1917). The Advanced Montessori Method (Vol. 1: Spontaneous Activity in Education; Vol. 2: The Montessori Elementary Material). New York: Frederick A. Stokes & Co. Order Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company edition through NAMTA.
A collection of essays including both theory and practice at the elementary level.
- Montessori, Maria. (1936). The Secret of Childhood. New York: Frederick A. Stokes and Co. Order current Orient Longman edition through NAMTA.
An introduction, both practical and theoretical, including observations and insights into the nature of young children.
- Montessori, Maria. (1943). Education and Peace. Chicago: Henry Regnery. Order Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company edition through NAMTA.
Essays including lectures from the 6th International Montessori Congress in Copenhagen in 1937.
- Montessori, Maria. (1946). Education for a New World. Madras, India: Kalakshetra Publications. Order Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company edition through NAMTA.
A discussion of the role of education in a changing world.
- Montessori, Maria. (1948). The Discovery of the Child. Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House. Order Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company edition through NAMTA. U.S. edition can be ordered online through Amazon.com.
Early writings of Dr. Montessori highlighting the materials and the work of the child in the primary class (ages 3-6).
- Montessori, Maria. (1955). The Formation of Man. (first published in the U.S. under the title Childhood Education, New York: New American Library.) Order Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company edition through NAMTA.
Dr. Montessori’s approach to world literacy.
- Montessori, Mario. (1966). The Human Tendencies and Montessori Education. Amsterdam: Association Montessori Internationale.
A classic essay on the imagination, the natural characteristics of the child, and the integration of human development and history.
- Montessori Jr., Mario M. (1977). Education for Human Development: Understanding Montessori. New York: Schocken Books. Order Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company edition through NAMTA.
The ideas of Montessori from a philosophical, psychological, and educational point of view. Foreword by Buckminster Fuller.
Why Parents Love Our School
Our family has had many positive experiences with Monticello. Each child is shown kindness and respect, I think the teachers are devoted, the special education programs have been very competent, and the administrator and staff are amazing. I am so grateful our daughter has had the opportunity to go to this school.
Our child‘s teacher has shown much interest in our child and has allowed her to perform her dance routine for the class. She is very observant and watches to see what is best for each child.
I just love that the admistitrator is so involved, always out there with the kids when they get out of school.
Because the Montessori method is the best way for my child to learn and he has progressed in maturity and wants to be at school where he did not want to go to the other school. He receives all the help that is required and necessary.
Good teacher/student ratio, small family like environment, administrator, non-traditional teaching philosophy, children are treated with respect.
I knew my kids needed something different than the standard public education. I had heard great things from a friend about Montessori so when I learned about a free charter school using Montessori method, I jumped at the chance to enroll them. We aren’t rich enough for a private school and homeschooling would have been my only other option.
There was an opening and now it’s turned into so much more.
When we first started at the school, we were impressed by the teachers we met, and by the way the classrooms were more “free” to explore. We liked the hands on approach to lessons, and the cooking, and that the kids were expected to have a job in the classroom that they were responsible for.
I love the Montessori platform and have always known that it would be the best fit for my child and their learning style as well as their personality. It is a hands on approach to learning that will allow a child to go at their pace and thrive as well as give them the ability to critically think of ways to improve. I have seen this in my child‘s time at Monticello and look forward to seeing more of these positive improvements throughout the time my child is at this school.