Montessori education has been around a long time. It dates back to the days of its founder, Maria Montessori, who opened Casa Dei Bambini (or “Children’s House”) on the 6th of January 1907.
Although most of the world wouldn’t notice the opening of the first Montessori school, Maria had a strong impression that day. She said, “I had a strange feeling which made me announce emphatically that here was the opening of an undertaking of which the whole world would one day speak.” And she was right. Big time.
The Association Montessori Internationale tells us, “She put many different activities and other materials into the children’s environment but kept only those that engaged them. What Montessori came to realize was that children who were placed in an environment where activities were designed to support their natural development had the power to educate themselves. She was later to refer to this as auto-education. In 1914 she wrote, ‘I did not invent a method of education, I simply gave some little children a chance to live.’”
Those children, and thousands of others since, have had the benefit of a truly remarkable education. When observing a classroom using the Montessori Method, you’ll notice the same things that Emily Langhorn, writing for Forbes, noticed:
“Dr. Montessori thought that acknowledging the individuality of each child resulted in better learning outcomes, so student choice, also known as self-directed learning, is an integral part of the Montessori method. Students are free to choose the activity they want to work on from a range of carefully prepared, developmentally appropriate materials.”
“Montessori classrooms are ‘grouped’ based on ages; for example, Pre-K3, Pre-K4 and kindergarten students learn together in a classroom overseen by a teacher credentialed for this age group. Because kids learn at different paces, grouping by age can prevent students who learn at a slower but developmentally appropriate pace from being labeled as behind grade level.”
“In many ways, the Montessori method is the antithesis of how people traditionally think of school. For much of the day, students don’t sit at desks or tables. They aren’t expected to follow teachers’ instructions perfectly. And they aren’t constantly given instructions on what to do. However, a Montessori classroom should be a calm, orderly space.”
But perhaps the most compelling evidence for parents who consider enrolling their children in a Montessori school is this: “Scientific research confirms that Montessori children have an advantage not only academically, but also in social and emotional development.” Read more here.
Montessori Education is popular for a reason; it was designed to meet the needs of the whole child in a supported, encouraging atmosphere. And the best part is that the design works, it works really well.