Rather than simply filling children with facts, Montessori education strives to nurture each child’s natural desire for knowledge, understanding, and respect.Melanie Thiesse, AMS Director of School Quality & School Accreditation
Regardless of the type or level of school, the American Montessori Society recognizes five components as critical to high-fidelity implementation of the Montessori Method.
- Trained Montessori Teachers. Montessori teachers understand the importance of enabling children to develop naturally. The teacher introduces challenging and developmentally appropriate lessons and materials based on observations of each child’s unique interests, abilities, and social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development.
- The Multi-Age Classroom. Multi-age groupings enable younger children to learn from older children and experience new challenges through observation. Older children reinforce their own learning by teaching concepts they have already mastered, while developing leadership skills and serving as role models. Because each student’s work is individual, children progress at their own pace; there is cooperation rather than competition between the ages. This arrangement mirrors the real world, in which individuals work and socialize with people of all ages and dispositions.
- Using Montessori Materials. A hallmark of Montessori education is the hands-on approach to learning and the use of specially designed learning materials. Beautifully and precisely crafted, Montessori’s distinctive learning materials each teach a single skill or concept. The materials follow a logical, developmentally appropriate progression that allows the child to develop an abstract understanding of a concept.
- Child-Directed Work. Montessori education supports children in choosing meaningful and challenging work that captures their interest, leading to engagement, intrinsic motivation, sustained attention, and a sense of responsibility to oneself and others. This child-directed work is supported by the design and flow of the Montessori classroom, which is created to ignite each child’s curiosity and to provide the opportunity to work in calm, uncluttered spaces either individually or with peers. Children are free to explore while teachers keep them on the path to learning and ensure that the classroom environment is respectful, orderly, and productive.
- Uninterrupted Work Periods. An extended period of free choice time called the “uninterrupted work period” recognizes and respects individual variations in the learning process. Students have time to select and work through various tasks and responsibilities at their own pace, without interruption. A child’s work cycle involves selecting an activity, performing the activity for as long as they are interested in it, cleaning up the activity and returning it to the shelf, then selecting another activity. Teachers support and monitor the students’ work, providing individual and small-group lessons. The uninterrupted work period facilitates the development of coordination, concentration, and independence.
The Montessori Method
The Montessori Method is student-led and self-paced education, but guided, assessed, and enriched by knowledgeable and caring teachers, the leadership of their peers, and a nurturing environment. It is designed to foster rigorous, self-motivated growth for children in all areas of their development—cognitive, emotional, social, and physical.
As soon as you enter a classroom, you know that something is different. You see children working independently and in groups, often with specially-designed learning materials; deeply engaged in their work; and respectful of themselves and their surroundings.
Classrooms are designed to create natural opportunities for independence, citizenship, and accountability. Individual students follow their own curiosity at their own pace, taking the time they need to fully understand each concept and meet individualized learning goals.
Given the freedom and support to question, probe deeply, and make connections, Montessori students grow up to be confident, enthusiastic, and self-directed learners and citizens, accountable to both themselves and their community. They think critically, work collaboratively, and act boldly and with integrity. What better outcome could you wish for your children?
We hesitate to brag when there are obviously many factors beyond a Montessori education that go into someone’s success in life, but it’s worth noting there are millions of alumni worldwide. Some of the more famous Montessori graduates include:
- Bezos, Jeff. Entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist. Founder, Chairman, President, and CEO, Amazon.com, Inc. Owner of several other companies including Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and Bezos Expeditions.
- Child, Julia. Chef, author, TV personality. Winner of the Peabody Award, multiple Emmy Awards, and the US National Book Award for Current Interest. Founder of the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and Culinary Arts.
- Clinton, Chelsea. Author, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Riverkeeper Honoree, Glamour Woman of the Year, Mother’s Day Council Outstanding Mother Award, Ida S. Scudder Centennial Women’s Empowerment Award.
- Curry, Stephen. NBA player, founder and executive producer at Unanimous Media, philanthropist. Three-time NBA champion, two-time MVP, six-time All-Star. Winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award, the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service in Professional Sports, the BET Sportsman of the Year Award, the NBA Community Assist Award, the ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete and NBA Player.
- Hunt, Helen. Actor, director, screenwriter. One Academy Award, four Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, one People’s Choice Award.
- Swift, Taylor. Award-winning singer and songwriter, video director and producer, philanthropist. The abbreviated list of awards includes 10 Grammy Awards, 23 American Music Awards (most wins by a female artist), 23 Billboard Music Awards (most wins by a female artist), 12 Country Music Association Awards, and an Emmy Award.
Editor’s Note: This content for this page was pulled from the American Montessori Society and shortened to fit the purpose of this website. We encourage you to visit their website for a much broader and more detailed picture of Montessori education.