Montessori Education

From the standpoint of education Dr. Maria Montessori observed that there are critical periods for optimal learning in early childhood and the role of a Montessori teacher is to provide the support and create the environment that will reinforce the development process of the whole child. The process of engaging a child requires observations of what the child is attracted to and then building and expanding on that with the educational material. With freedom of choice, the child is engaged with an “absorbent mind” which creates the development of intellect. Through repetition a child reaches a level of mastery and develops self -esteem and self -confidence.

The Montessori method is an individualized approach to education. It encourages creativity, curiosity and leads children to ask questions, explore, investigate and think for themselves as they acquire skills.

History of Montessori Education

(Copied from Chaminade University)

A Brief History of the Montessori Philosophy Maria Montessori, who lived from 1870 to 1952, was a brilliant and original educator, scientist, healer, humanitarian and philosopher. Soon after graduating from medical school in Rome and stimulated by her further studies in psychology. she worked with children with mental and physical challenges. She based her teaching methods on principles of two prominent French physicians whose research she admired, Itard and Seguin. Remarkably, the children progressed so quickly that Montessori signed them up for ordinary school exams, which they passed without difficulty.

Montessori then turned her thoughts to the education of the ordinary child. She returned to University to further her academic work in educational philosophy, psychology and anthropology. In 1907 she organized schools in Rome. She found after careful and lengthy observation of children, that given the opportunities and thoughtfully developed materials, they could thrive and quickly absorb complex skills and sophisticated knowledge. Children under her guidance also developed self discipline. For two decades, Montessori observed children and then tied her observations into the theories she wrote about.

Montessori Schools were introduced to North America in 1912 and now there are over 2,500 schools in North America. Today, Montessori schools are found worldwide. Montessori developed many of the materials that we see in the early childhood settings of today, for example; child sized furniture and learning toys (virtually unavailable until the 1960’s). A Young Child’s Special Mind The most basic principle in Montessori’s theory of education is that the learning capacity of a young child is fundamentally different from that of an adult. Montessori frequently compared the young child’s mind to asponge. It literally absorbs information from the environment. Since the child retains this ability until they are almost seven years old, Dr. Montessori reasoned that a child could handle materials which would demonstrate basic educational information to him/her.

Over 100 years of experience have proved her theory that a child can learn to read, write and calculate the same natural way that the child learns to walk and talk. In the Montessori classroom, the equipment allows the child to do this at his/her own periods of interest and readiness. Sensitive Periods Another observation of Dr. Montessori’s which has been reinforced by modern research, is the importance of sensitive periods for early learning. These are periods of intense fascination for learning a particular characteristic or skill, such as going up and down steps, putting things in order, counting and reading. It is easier for the child to learn a particular skill during the corresponding sensitive period than at any other time in her life. The Montessori classroom takes advantage of this fact by allowing the child freedom to select individual activities that correspond to his/her own periods of interest.

“| do not believe there is a method better than Montessori for making children sensitive to the beauties of the world and awakening their curiosity regarding the secrets of life.”

– Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Author, Nobel Laureate, Montessori Alumnus)

The Role of a Montessori Teacher

Instruction is characterized by meeting the learning needs of each child with specialized montessori learning materials to develop concentration, self motivation and organizational skills. The role of a certified teacher is to create an environment of calm, order and joy in the classroom. Certified teachers demonstrate how to use the montessori teaching materials and create individualized presentations of activities based on the childs interest and observations.

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not filling of a vessel”  Socrates

The 5 main aspects of Montessori Education


Practical Life Activities

Practical Life Activities instill a care for the environment, a care for others and care of oneself. The activities include many of the tasks involved in daily life such as folding clothes, doing dishes, personal hygiene,and social mannerisms such as grace and courtesy.

The purpose of practical life exercises help the child to adapt and make an easy transition between home and school. Assist in the childs efforts towards independence. Develop co-ordination of movement by providing motives for activities that encourage repetition. They attract the child and call on the childs inner urge to work and participate. The activities develop a refinement of movement. The purpose of these practical life activities enables movement and the exploration of their environment. They learn to work at a task from beginning to end and this develops their will, self-discipline and self-confidence and their capacity for total concentration. A mindfulness.

“Will” defined by Dr Maria Montessori is the intelligent direction of movement.

Sensorial Activities

The impressions of the 5 senses is how a child navigates his environment and absorbs knowledge and understands the world. This lays the foundation for the development of intellect. Associations are made and children learn to order and classify impressions. They do so by touching, listening, seeing  hearing, and tasting, by exploring the physical properties of their environment through the specially designed Montessori materials. For example the Montessori geometric figures are utilized to identify geometrical shapes. The purpose of the material is to enable the child to acquire visual and muscular knowledge of geometrical forms, leading to an awareness of and observation of form in the environment.  Sensorial activities develop co-ordination of movement and  lay a foundation for the later study of geometry and math and indirect preparation for writing.



The Montessori environment further enhances  Language Arts through associations between letters and phonetics. At around 3 years of age children become aware of the properties not by being taught but by being allowed to discover and explore these properties themselves leading to the natural consequence to read and write. Montessori Materials such as the sandpaper letters enable the child to acquire the physical ability to reproduce the letters in writing and at the same time relate the symbols of the alphabet to the sounds of the specific letter in a word.

Cultural Extensions

Geography, History, Biology (Botany and Zoology) Science ,Art and Music are presented as extensions of the Sensorial and Language Arts activities. For example if a child chooses to work with the classified nomenclature cards for botany they learn to identify parts of the tree, leaf and flower matching the image with the labels and reading the names on the card. This can be combined with the practical life activity of looking after the environment by caring for plants and flowers in the classroom or growing vegetables in the garden. Arts and crafts can be further extended with the Botany presentation to include leaf rubbings or a nature collage. Creating connections and extensions are the creative aspect of Montessori education which arise from observing the childs interest and nurturing the engagement of will. The Montessori teacher must be a creative and flexible part of the the childs learning environment.



Children experience the concept of order, sequence, measurement,  making calculations and estimations, determining quantity and exactness in a montessori classroom. The Arithmetic focus in Montessori includes numbers to Ten. Decimal system, teens and tens. Concrete montessori math materials help to shape the passage to more abstract thought.

Google Founders  and Innovators who attribute their success to Montessori Education:


 A Montessori Morning

Education method is based on teachings of the Montessori Teachers College of Calgary.