What is Montessori?

/What is Montessori?
What is Montessori? 2017-12-22T08:27:50+00:00

If you’re new to the Montessori method of education don’t worry! Many of our parents have never heard of Montessori before and are genuinely impressed with the progress that their children make at our centre.

The table below that shows an example of some of the differences between a Montessori classroom and a non-Montessori classroom, as well as some of the activities, tools and environments that our centre’s have developed.

Comparison with Traditional Classroom 2017-01-04T13:45:17+00:00


Below is a comparison of the Montessori classroom and the traditional classroom.

Montessori  Traditional
 Teacher has unobtrusive role – observer  Teacher is centre of class – controller
 Environment and method – encourages self discipline  Teacher acts as primary enforcer of discipline
 Mainly individual instruction  Mainly group instruction
Child chooses work Teaching done by teacher
 Child discovers concepts from self-correcting materials  Child introduced to concepts by teacher
 Child works as long as he/she wishes on projects  Child generally allotted specific time in which to complete chosen projects
 Child sets own pace  Instructions set by group norm
 Child reinforces own learning through repetition and internal feeling of success  Work is corrected, errors pointed out by teacher
Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration  Few, although improving
 Children can move wherever they choose at will yet not disturb others at work
 Children are assigned to tasks, seats, required to participate, sit still and join groups

Montessori education is broken into 3 cycles.

 Cycle 1:        15mths – 6 yrs

 Cycle 2:        6-9 years

 Cycle 3:        9-12 years

The Montessori first cycle children (15mths to 6yrs old) work to develop themselves as independent people, grasping reality, acquiring facts and impressions.  They are interested in what and where. To aid and develop children, our centre has developed exercises, established environments and tools which are divided into five categories:

1. Practical Life exercises.  These simple activities aid development of co-ordination and concentration and encourage independence.  As well as establishing the work cycle, i.e. activity chosen and completed and returned to the shelf ready for the next child, the children get a sense of their own culture.  Activities include pouring, washing, polishing, sweeping, food preparation, dressing and social skill development.

2. The Sensorial materials are designed to help the children to become more perceptive, to understand concepts and focus on details in the world around them.  Activities involve grading, matching shapes, weight, colour, taste, sound and touch.

3. The Language materials increase vocabulary, explore the sounds and syntax of the English language and help the children write and read.  Language development is stimulated in all areas of the classroom.

4. The Mathematical materials are designed to take the child from the physical concept of numbers to an abstract level of understanding maths.  Beginning with the meaning of numbers from 1 to 10, comprehension of, and simple operations in the decimal system, fractions and geometry.

5. The Cultural area includes elements of geography, history, art, craft, music, animals and plant classification, simple science experiments, social studies, drama and movement and foreign languages.

As cycles 2 and 3 cater for children older than 6yrs, they are not covered at our centre.

Please visit the Montessori Questions & Answers page for more details on the Montessori method of education.

Others with a Montessori connection 2017-01-04T13:45:17+00:00
  • Bruno Bettelheim, noted psychologist/author, was married to a Montessori teacher
  • Thomas Edison, noted scientist and inventor, helped found a Montessori school
  • President Wilson’s daughter trained as a Montessori teacher. There was a Montessori classroom in the basement of the White House during Wilson’s presidency.
  • Erik Erikson, anthropologist/author, had a Montessori teaching certificate
  • Jean Piaget, noted Swiss psychologist, made his first observations of children in a Montessori school. He was also head of the Swiss Montessori Society for many years.
  • Mister Rogers, children’s TV personality, strong supporter of Montessori education
  • Alexander Graham Bell (inventor) and his wife Mabel founded the Montessori Education Association in 1913. They also provided financial support directly to Dr. Maria Montessori and helped establish the first Montessori class in Canada and one of the first in the United States.
  • Alice Waters, restaurateur and writer, is a former Montessori teacher
Famous people who chose Montessori schools for their own children 2015-05-28T03:12:19+00:00
  • Stephen J. Cannell, TV writer-producer-director (The Rockfor Files and many other)
  • Patty Duke Austin, actress
  • Bill and Hillary Clinton, Former President and New York Senator
  • Cher Bono, singer, actres
  • John Bradshaw, psychologist and author
  • Yul Brynner, former actor
  • Marcy Carcy, TV producer
  • Michael Douglas, actor
  • Shari Lewis, former puppeteer
  • Yo Yo Ma, cellist
  • Willie Nelson, musician, has a Montessori school on his ranch
  • Elizabeth Berridge, actress
  • David Blaine, street magician
  • Jennifer Granholm and Daniel Mulhern, Governor of Michigan
Some famous people who attended Montessori school as children are: 2015-05-28T03:11:19+00:00
  • Larry Page, Co-Founder of Google
  • Sergey Brin, Co-Founder of Google. Recently, this article· was written which describes how Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, remembers his Montessori experience.
  • Peter Drucker, Management Guru
  • Prince William and Prince Harry, English royal family
  • George Clooney, Academy Award-winning actor
  • Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon
  • Anne Frank,  famous diarist from World War II
  • Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Austrian painter and Architect
  • Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia
  • Will Wright, designer of The Sims
  • Katherine Graham, former owner-editor of the Washington Post. “The Montessori method—learning by doing— once again became my stock in trade…” from Personal History by Katharine Graham
  • Sean Combs, Sean ‘P.Diddy’ (formerly known as Puffy) Combs, RAP mega-star
  • Julia Child, famous chef, star of many TV cooking shows and author of numerous cookbooks Chef
  • Helen Hunt, Academy Award-winning actress
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Prize winner for Literature
  • Joshua Bell, American violinist, owner of Stradivarius violin
  • Lea Salonga, multi-awarded Filipino-American singer and Broadway actress
  • Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, former editor, former first lady (John F. Kennedy)
  • Berry Brazelton, noted paediatrician and author
  • Kami Cotler, actress (youngest child on long-running series The Waltons)
  • Melissa and Sarah Gilbert, actors
Are all Montessori programmes the same? 2017-01-04T13:45:17+00:00

Not every Montessori programme is the same. Each reflects the personalities of the adults running the programme, so no two Montessori programmes are exactly alike and each should be judged individually. In addition, as the Montessori method has grown in popularity, there has been an increasing number of people offering teacher training. Each Montessori teacher training organisation is somewhat different.

How are Montessori teachers trained? 2015-05-28T02:56:29+00:00

Montessori teachers are trained through demonstration and the provision of opportunity to practise. The Montessori curriculum is organised around specific teaching materials which are developmentally sequenced. Each curriculum area is taught to teacher trainees by careful demonstration of the presentation and use of each curriculum material in sequence. Students then practice the techniques they have seen demonstrated until they have mastered the material well enough to use it with the children. The students absorb an understanding of child development and education through observation, and explanation of the practice they see demonstrated. Further in-depth study of theory is provided through a tutorial programme of guided readings, lessons, and assignments. In this way, teachers learn the use of specific materials and techniques for helping children learn and develop. At the same time they develop a theory of learning, development, curriculum, and teaching which supports, and is consistent with, the practice they are learning.

Are Montessori programmes recognised? 2015-05-28T02:56:07+00:00

The Montessori method of education is well known. There are thousands of Montessori schools throughout the world. An increasing number of public school teachers and administrators are becoming interested in the Montessori method of education, and many new textbooks on child development and education are referring to the important contributions of Dr. Montessori to the field of children’s education.

What happens to children when they leave a Montessori programme? 2015-05-28T02:55:45+00:00

Children from a Montessori programme usually fit in well wherever they go after attending a Montessori programme. Because they are respectful, co-operative, self- disciplined, and independent learners, they are well prepared to get along successfully in any programme. Competence is a firm foundation for success.

Who was Dr. Montessori, and how did she come to establish her educational method? 2015-05-28T02:54:55+00:00

Dr. Maria Montessori, internationally renowned child educator, was originally a medical doctor who brought the scientific methods of observation, experimentation, and research to the study of children, their development and education. As a doctor, Montessori came to believe that many of the problems of the children she was working with were educational rather than medical. In examining education she felt that children were not achieving their potential because education was not based upon science. Her first step, then, was to attempt to abandon preconceived ideas about education and to begin to study children, their development and the process of learning through scientific methods of observation and experimentation. In doing so, she made what she considered to be a number of startling discoveries. Through her research, she discovered that children possessed different and higher qualities than those we usually attribute to them.

Up to what age is the Montessori programme designed? 2015-05-28T02:54:14+00:00

There are Montessori materials which are designed for use of children up to around 12 years of age. Whereas most Montessori schools are pre-schools, there is an increasing number of Montessori primary schools which work with children through all primary grades. There are a few Montessori junior and senior high school programmes. Dr. Montessori did discuss the education of children up to the college level. However, she specifically designed materials only for pre-school and primary years. This was because she felt specially designed materials were only needed for the younger children since the older children would have the competence to learn with materials commonly available.

What is a Montessori primary classroom like? 2017-01-04T13:45:17+00:00

A Montessori classroom is an exciting place to be. There are many interesting and beautiful resources for children to work with. There are many interesting books on a wide assortment of topics. Books on insects, plants, animals, different countries, history, etc. However, textbooks and workbooks are not used. Instead, children work with many different concrete materials which help them to learn through an active process. In using these materials the children may make their own books, draw their own maps or time lines, and develop their own projects. As a result, the classroom is a busy, happy place to be. Since the classroom is well organised, with the intention of making all the materials visible and accessible for the children, the children can find what they want and work without having to wait for the teacher.

How does a Montessori education benefit children? 2015-05-28T02:53:27+00:00

Experience and research both indicate that children attending Montessori schools tend to be competent, self-disciplined, socially well adjusted, and happy.

a) Competence: Children in Montessori schools are often several years above grade level in their basic skills. Also, since the Montessori education is comprehensive, children are often exceptionally knowledgeable in a number of other areas as well.

b) Self-discipline: Montessori schools are well known for children’s development of self-discipline. Children choose to work long and hard. They treat materials and others with respect. They display patience and resistance to temptation and the ability to attend for long periods.

c) Social Adjustment: Montessori school children usually strike a visitor as friendly empathetic, and co-operative. The classroom is a cheerful social community where children happily help each other. It is not uncommon to see a child offer to help another child. Also, learning social grace and courtesy is a part of the Montessori curriculum.

d) Happiness: Most parents of children in a Montessori school comment on how much their children love school.

What is Montessori? 2017-10-13T08:12:25+00:00

Montessori is an approach to the education of children. It is a way of looking at, and understanding, children. It is a view of how children develop and learn which has been translated into a systematic method of education based upon careful scientific study. The Montessori educational system is unique in that it has successfully undergone continued development for over seventy years and has been used effectively with normal, and gifted children in different countries around the world. Perhaps the most significant reason for its success is that it is a comprehensive method of education resulting from an integration of research on development, learning, curriculum, and teaching.