Montessori philosophy

There is no mystery to the Montessori Philosophy. Its approach is an education for parent and child alike. Children have a natural love of learning. The Montessori Philosophy is simply that education begins at birth and that during the first 6 years of life the child's power of absorption is at its highest.

Our first child started at the Farmhouse Montessori School in 1997. We must admit we didn't know a lot about Montessori education… Our main aim was for our children to find out that learning and school is fun.

Both our older children have gained and learned totally different skills from their Montessori experience. Our oldest child (from the minute he started) gained an extraordinary amount of independence, a great deal of initiative and organising skills. He is extremely co-operative (at school) and has a great sense of justice.

Our second child enjoyed the social side of Montessori. He gained a great deal of social confidence and especially enjoyed the creative and musical activities. He came away with a fantastic base in reading and writing at which he has excelled since starting mainstream education."

Kelly Saines, Ben's Mum.

Essentially, education should be an "aid to life".  Montessori education is centred on the child, with the Montessori Directresses guiding rather than teaching. They are facilitators in the process of learning. The Montessori Directress presents the information to the child in a climate of mutual respect. By following and observing the child the Montessori Directress can recognise and respond to each child's individual needs. Development of self-esteem, tolerance, mutual respect and concern for others are traits that are nurtured in this environment.

When you enter the Montessori school the first thing that strikes you as a parent is the secure and harmonious environment. It's this environment that is key to developing the children's sense of well being. Montessori Schools have no ethnic or religious boundaries. They are multi denominational, recognising that the education of our children is fundamental and should be accessible to all.

Maria Montessori was, in many ways, ahead of her time. Born in the town of Chiaravalle, in the province of Ancona, Italy, in 1870, she became the first female physician in Italy upon her graduation from medical school in 1896. Shortly afterwards, she was chosen to represent Italy at two different women's conferences, in Berlin in 1896 and in London in 1900.

In her medical practice, Maria Montessori's clinical observations led her to analyse how children learn, and she concluded that they build themselves from what they find in their environment. Shifting her focus from the body to the mind, she returned to the university in 1901, this time to study psychology and philosophy.

In 1904, Maria Montessori was made a professor of anthropology at the University of Rome. Her desire to help children was so strong, however, that in 1906 she gave up both her university chair and her medical practice to work with a group of sixty young children of working parents in the San Lorenzo district of Rome. It was there that she founded the first Casa dei Bambini, or "Children's House." What ultimately became the Montessori method of education developed there, based upon Montessori's scientific observations of these children's almost effortless ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings, as well as their tireless interest in manipulating materials. Every piece of equipment, every exercise, every method Montessori developed was based on what she observed children to do "naturally," by themselves, unassisted by adults.

Children teach themselves. This simple but profound truth inspired Montessori's lifelong pursuit of educational reform, methodology, psychology, teaching, and teacher training–all based on her dedication to furthering the self-creating process of the child.

Maria Montessori died in Noordwijk, Holland, in 1952.

Content courtesy of the North American Montessori Teachers' Association. ' NAMTA. All rights reserved.'