where does that word “montessori” come from?

The word Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SOR-ri) is a name. Maria Montessori worked extensively with children and learned much from observing them. Although Maria lived and worked 100 years ago, her mantra of “follow the child” and her philosophy of making learning experiential is timeless.

Many of the current best practices in traditional and mainstream education are very similar to what she created a century ago. One example is the base ten blocks in traditional education that resemble Montessori’s beloved golden beads that she created a century ago.

An Overview of the Montessori Philosophy:

  • The Montessori Materials are secondary to the Montessori philosophy
  • Respect for the child
  • Individuality of each child
  • Freedom of choice
  • Children participate in the making of rules
  • Self-Discipline
  • Children learn through hands-on experience
  • The child has a natural love of order
  • Children learn by a natural desire for repetition
  • Montessori work is child-directed and self-correcting
  • Work progresses from simple to complex, concrete to abstract
  • Work progresses from the whole to its parts
  • The child possesses an “absorbent mind” with an inner motivation to learn
  • Children teach themselves through their experiences when provided with the proper environment,
  • Children learn by observing others
  • Provide opportunities for self-discovery instead of simply being told
  • Once a work has been demonstrated the child is free to use it without correction from the teacher unless he or she is harming others or abusing the work.
  • The teacher’s role is to observe the child and follow the child’s lead
  • A “prepared environment” of carefully prepared shelves with materials for the child to explore and thus direct his or her own learning
  • The teacher (aka guide or directress) is a link or catalyst between the child and the prepared environment.
  • The Montessori teacher considered herself to be a guide or directress of learning rather than a teacher.
  • Independence of the child from the teacher or adult
  • Children possess a natural desire to care for themselves and their environment and don’t want things done for them.
  • The child develops a sense of responsibility and a caring for the environment.
  • Mixed Ages where the younger children learn by emulating the older children and older children learn by teaching younger children. All children benefit in this situation.
  • Each child learns and is allowed to progress at his or her own pace
  • Every child has an inner need to grow physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
  • Children go through various “sensitive periods” where they are drawn to a material or activity. This “sensitive period” is a window of opportunity to easily absorb certain information.
  • Beauty is an important part of the environment
  • Non-competitiveness with others
  • Contact with the natural world
  • The wonder of discovery of the natural world with an overview of the whole universe.