Born in 1870, Maria Montessori was the first female physician in Italy. An educator and humanitarian, she devoted her life to the study and observation of children resulting in the establishment of Montessori schools around the world.
Basic to the Montessori philosophy is the concept that children are motivated from within by both a natural curiosity and love of knowledge. The goal of early childhood education is to cultivate the child’s own natural desire to learn. This is achieved within a prepared, orderly environment which allows children to learn at their own pace, according to their own capabilities, and in a non-competitive atmosphere. Children acquiring basic skills in this natural way gain an early enthusiasm for learning while their personal dignity, independence, and self-discipline develop.
Montessori classrooms are organized in groups which include children ages 3 through 6. Younger children become stimulated by exposure to the work of older children; older children build on earlier skills and reinforce their knowledge by helping the younger children. What evolves is a natural and mutual respect for one another as individuals.
Within this supportive, orderly and nurturing environment, children develop according to their own readiness. Everything in the classroom is easily accessible to them. They gain independence as they choose and work with materials and activities they can successfully complete on their own. Children may work alone or with others.