Why Montessori Matters

The Montessori educational approach, its philosophy, and principles were developed and set forth by Dr. Maria Montessori over 100 years ago.

Unlike traditional teaching methods, this approach of education provides children with an interactive opportunity to understand, learn, and grow. It fosters a holistic development of the mind and body.

It focuses on independent problem solving, self-discovery, and nature intensive learning. This teaching method has become extremely popular over the last one hundred years, and has proliferated worldwide.

There are approximately more than 7,000 Montessori schools operating worldwide and close to 4000 of those schools exist in the U.S. alone.

Montessori students are:

  • Joyful.
  • Self-motivated.
  • Enthusiastic learners.
  • Better socialized and able to solve their conflicts.
  • Fluent readers who are also able to understand mathematical concepts.
  • In possession of natural self-esteem
  • Courteous, compassionate, and respectful in their interactions.

Why Montessori Works: Key Principles

  • Movement and learning are closely connected; movement enhances learning.
  • Placing children in mixed age groups, corresponding to planes of development, allows them to relate to children who are both older and younger.
  • Observation of the child reveals the proper timing for presentation of new information and experiences.
  • Attending to sensitive periods of development guides the choice of classroom activities in which a child will be engaged.
  • The classroom experience should build on the desire of the young child to master his or her environment.
  • The use of self-correcting materials allows children to manipulate and explore at their own pace.

The Research:

Montessori education, rooted in human development, driven by observation,inspired by science, and based on timeless and universal human tendencies, has become increasingly popular and better understood in the United States because it is supported by research in psychology, biology, neurology, and additional disciplines. With this new attention, and the current issues facing public education, more and more researchers have begun to study the outcomes and impact of a Montessori education. Currently, research regarding the success of Montessori education has concentrated in six areas:

  • History of Montessori education.
  • The role of teacher beliefs in Montessori classrooms.
  • Montessori’s impact on at-risk children.
  • Montessori’s impact on exceptional learners.
  • Traditional schooling versus the Montessori method.
  • The relationship of Montessori principles and practices to optimal experience theory.

Key Montessori Supporters:

  • Angeline Lillard, Ph.D., psychology professor, University of Virginia; author of The Science Behind the Genius.
  • Adele Diamond, Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, and author of numerous research articles on the development of cognitive functions including “Interventions Shown to Aid Executive Function Development in Children 4 to 12 Years Old,” which was published in Science Magazine.
  • Steven Hughes, Ph.D., L.P., pediatric neuropsychologist and president of the American Academy of Pediatric Neuropsychology.
  • Daniel Pink, best-selling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind and expert on innovation, competition, and the changing world of work.
  • Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D., co-author of The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and internationally renowned authority on children in crisis.
  • Andrew Meltzoff, Ph.D., co-author of The Scientist in the Crib and child development researcher.
  • Noah Sobe, Ph.D., assistant professor in cultural and educational policy studies in the School of Education at Loyola University, Chicago and author of Challenging the Gaze.
  • Jane Healy, Ph.D., teacher, educational psychologist, and award-winning author of Failure To Connect.
  • Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D., an award-winning author and speaker; author of over a dozen books, including The Best Schools: How Human Development Research Should Inform Educational Practice.
Montessori vs. Mainstream – An Educational Comparison

Montessori:

  • Based on helping the natural development of the human being.
  • Children learn at their own pace and follow their own individual interests.
  • Children teach themselves using materials specially prepared for that purpose.
  • Understanding comes through the child’s own experiences via the materials and the promotion of children’s ability to find things out for themselves.
  • Learning is based on the fact that physical exploration and cognition are linked.
  • The teacher works in collaboration with the children.
  • The child’s individual development brings its own reward and therefore motivation.
  • Uninterrupted work cycles.
  • Multi-age classrooms.
  • Working and learning matched to the social development of the child.

Mainstream:

  • Based on the transfer of a national curriculum.
  • Children learn from a set curriculum according to a time frame that is the same for everyone.
  • Children are taught by the teacher.
  • Learning is based on subjects and is limited to what is given.
  • Children sit at desks and learn from a whiteboard and worksheets.
  • The class is teacher led.
  • Motivation is achieved by a system of rewards and punishments.
  • Block time, period lessons.
  • Single-graded classrooms.
  • Working and learning without emphasis on social development.

Montessori Graduates

An AMI Montessori education assists children to develop to their full human potential by helping them “learn how to think.” What do thinking children do when they grow up? They become successful, accomplished adults contributing to a better world. Some of the most famous entrepreneurs and innovators of today have actively credited their success to the education they received in a Montessori classroom:

  • Jeff Bezos | Founder of Amazon.com
  • Sergey Brin and Larry Page | Co-founders of Google
  • Will Wright | Designer of The Sims video games
  • Anne Frank | Renowned World War II diarist
  • Katherine Graham | Owner-editor of The Washington Post
  • Sean “Diddy” Combs | Rapper and CEO of Bad Boy Records
  • Julia Child | First world-famous television chef
  • Prince William & Prince Harry | Sons of the Prince of Wales
  • Helen Hunt | Academy Award-winning actress
  • George Clooney | Academy Award-wining actor
  • Chelsea Clinton | Daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton
  • Joshua Bell | American violinist
  • Lea Salonga | Multi-awarded singer and Broadway actress
 

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