Characteristics of a Montessori School

“I have studied the child. I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it and that is what is called the Montessori method.” Dr. Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952)

Dr. Maria Montessori

Dr Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870 and was one of the first women to be granted a medical degree from an Italian University. She began her work in the early 1900’s when she became involved initially with caring for culturally and socially deprived children and remained dedicated to her work until her death in 1952. Dr Montessori believed that person cannot be educated by another person; instead the person must do it for themselves. A truly educated individual continues learning long after the years spent in the classroom, because he or she is motivated from within by a natural curiosity and love of knowledge. She believed that learning is stimulated by an inner need and carries for the child its own motivation and rewards. She therefore felt that the goal of early childhood education should be to cultivate this natural desire to learn. In the Montessori classroom this objective is approached in two ways: by allowing each child to experience the excitement of learning by their own choice, and, by helping them to perfect all their natural tools for learning.

“Our aim is not only to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core” Dr. Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952)

Sensitive Periods

One of the most important aspects of Dr Montessori’s studies into early childhood development, is the recognition of ‘sensitive periods’. These are periods of intense satisfaction for learning particular skills, such as grasping or releasing or removing or replacing an object. Dr Montessori believed that it is easier for the child to learn a skill during the corresponding sensitive period than at any other time in their life. The Montessori classroom therefore has a wide variety of equipment, which allows the child to explore freely their particular interest as it arises.

The most important period of life is not the age of university studies but the first one; the period from birth to the age of six … for that is the time when man’s intelligence itself …is formed.’ The Absorbent Mind, Dr Maria Montessori

The Absorbent Mind

We now know from modern research that eighty percent of a child’s mental development takes place before they are eight years old.

Recommended Reading

The Absorbent Mind – Maria Montessori Montessori, The Science Behind the Genius – Angeline Stoll Lillard Montessori Madness – Trevor Eissler

An extensive range of books, videos and audio tapes are available from:

Montessori Australia Foundation (MAF), PO Box 82, Five Dock NSW 2046 (Phone: 02 9986 2282 Email: info@montessori.org.au)

Resources on the Montessori Method of Education

Trevor Eissler Goes over the Montessori Madness – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcgN0lEh5IA

‘Superwoman was already here!’ YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQl-7Lmm4hE

‘A Radical Way of Unleashing a Generation of Geniuses’ by Joshua Davis – http://www.wired.com/business/2013/10/free-thinkers/