Dr. Maria Montessori’s vision for education has inspired teachers and parents for over 100 years. Her deep respect for the child and her commitment to providing optimal environments for learning inform the curriculum and pedagogy in classrooms around the world. To respect the child means to understand and respect each stage of human development, to provide an environment that will support the child’s independence, and to offer work worthy of his or her ability at each stage.
A profound discovery early in Montessori’s work with children motivated all of her subsequent methodology: children who experience deep concentration and the resultant satisfaction become life-long learners and show themselves to be natural stewards of both their fellow humans and of the Earth.
Dr. Montessori observed four distinct stages of development, calling each stage a ‘plane.’ Her four planes of development are: birth to six years, six to twelve years, twelve to eighteen years, and eighteen to twenty-four years. Although one developmental plane lays the foundation for the next, each stage is unique and must therefore be approached in its individual way. Children at each plane have their own distinct set of characteristics, skills and abilities. At each stage, children need different things from the environment and from the adults and caregivers in their lives.
A Montessori teacher may more truthfully be called a ‘guide’ than a teacher, as it is his or her role to guide children on their own individual developmental tracks within the environment. Each child in a Montessori classroom is respected as an individual, with unique interests and abilities. Each Montessori teacher is trained to observe and support every child on their own developmental track.
The classroom offers a rich diversity of materials to support the development of independence and concentration, the gross and fine motor skills, the sense perceptions, and the early study of language, math, geography, art, culture, music and science. Strong emphasis is given to developing social grace and courtesy to help children learn how to be members of the larger community. Materials for all areas of study (math, language, geography, art, music, practical life, sensorial experience) are available to the children throughout the day. Lessons are given both to individuals and to small groups based on children’s interests and abilities.
Please refer to our “Resource Library” for links to further information on the Montessori Method.