Who was Montessori?
Dr. Maria Montessori, was born in Chiaravalle in 1870. She was the first female physician in Italy- and devoted her life to the study of how children learn. Based on her scientific
observations, she developed a comprehensive, child-centered approach to education founded on the following principles:
- Education should prepare children for life - intellectually, emotionally and physically
- Children learn best on their own, motivated by their innate need to explore and discover
- Children should be allowed to progress at their own pace, regardless of ability level or age
Dr. Montessori's background in science, psychology and anthropology, along with her deep humanitarian interest, influenced her ideas of
education reform. Today, her findings influence teachers in schools throughout the world. In the United States alone, some 200 public schools
and close to 4,000 private schools trust in the Montessori method's proven success.
For further reading on Dr. Montessori, visit http://www.amiusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=51&Itemid=67.
What are the main components and differences about the Montessori approach?
The key principles of the approach that are unique in Montessori Schools are:
- Built around the universal needs, tendencies and development of humans to include:
- The four planes, or stages, of development
- Human tendencies such as order, communication, and work
- Sensitive periodslanguage, movement, social development
- Normalization and adaptation to one’s culture
- Integrates the development of character and the whole-child
- Development of self confidence, leadership, respect and compassion
- Independence and community
- Learning from infancy through adolescence through:
- Activity, movement and the senses
- Classrooms as prepared environments
- Attractive, auto-educating and self-correcting materials
- Multi-age grouping
- Learning through observation and peer teaching
- The AMI Montessori trained teacher
- Positive attachment with the teacher
- Scientifically proven, brain-based education.
- Joyful living and learning
- Self discipline, self confidence, passion and purpose
- Discipline, love of learning and community develops through:
Why do classrooms have mixed-age groups?
Mixed-age groupings honor individual differences and build community. Because not all children are ready to master skills and concepts at the same age, students
learn in communities of mixed age groups, according to developmental level, that span approximately three years. Multi-age groupings allow teachers
to work with their students for more than one year, getting to know their individual needs and encouraging joyful learning by introducing concepts at
developmentally appropriate times. In addition, multi-age groupings create a nurturing, home-like community atmosphere where younger children are motivated to
move ahead by watching the older children while older children reinforce their own learning by helping the younger ones.
Is this approach still relevant to contemporary education?
Current brain-based research is verifying Dr. Montessori's original ideas about how the human develops and how to support a child's learning to
their potential. Current education theorists support the aspects and outcomes of a Montessori education where the
goal is to (1) assist children in becoming independent and adaptable to the changing circumstances of modern life and to (2) contribute to the cultivation
of human beings who would work towards a more peaceful world.
The qualities of a young person who has grown up in a Montessori environment include: creativity, adaptability, and independence in both thinking and
in managing one's life, and a strong concern for and dedication to the future of humanity.
Students in a Montessori environment learn to be resourceful, to find the information they need when they need it. They learn to collaborate
with others to find the best solutions to problems. They learn to speak their opinions and listen openly to the views of others. They speak with
confidence in public, they apply their skills creatively, and they understand diplomacy. They comfortably work side-by-side with people of all ages.
The rigorous scope of intellectual, artistic and creative content supports children who succeed in the next stages of their academic journey.
If children work independently and are free to choose much of the work, how do you ensure they have worked sufficiently in all areas?
The Montessori trained guide (or teacher) observes, assesses and tracks the individual progress of the child. Students have long blocks of
uninterrupted time to engage deeply in their learning of a particular study. Over the course of a three-year cycle the guide has presented all the
necessary material and has guided the student to be grounded in all key areas of the curriculum. Students at the elementary level have regular personal conferences and portfolio reviews with their guide. This allows the child and
guide to assess any blocks to success and to set manageable goals for any areas that need more work. At the adolescent level the advisor
tracks and has conferences with about 12 students for the year to ensure all areas of the student's development and academics are progressing.
Parents have conferences with guides at all levels and will receive two to three reports per year that offer individualized narrative addressing whole-child
engagement, achievement, and measurable assessment of progress in all aspects of development and in relationship to their individual goals. An additional view
of the child's relative standardized achievement is provided for all students from 4th year up, with the Standford Achievement Tests. All of the above
measures aid the student, guide and parent in understanding their child's strengths in every aspect of their development.
What about discipline?
Self-discipline develops through work that is motivated by interest, developmental need and community living. Montessori students engage in personally challenging
and developmentally meaningful activity, through purposeful work. The child develops self-regulation through positive experiences, learning how to make
choices, and to develop accountability for self, environment and community. From the very beginning the child is given an appropriate amount of freedom
within consistent and clearly defined limits. They are free to practice the skills of independence such as: social language, care of self and others,
respect, supported by the nurturing guidance of trained adults when needed. The physical and temporal environments are also designed
to support: order, respect, grace and courtesy, collaborative learning communities and positive attachments with their guides. Adaptation and independence
naturally develops within the intentionally designed experience where joyful engagement is the goal.
Montessori children demonstrate a strong ability to be self-directed, empathetic and responsible members of their community.
What if my child needs extra academic support? What about children with disabilities?
The individualized nature of Montessori allows students of differing abilities and learning styles to achieve their own potential. The mixed-age
groups and individualized abilities at each level provide inclusive and supportive learning environments. In addition to the Montessori guide's
training in observation, Hershey Montessori School has a comprehensive approach to general screening and referrals for additional support by learning coaches,
speech language therapists or additional expertise outside of school as needed. Some children may qualify for an Individualized Education Plan
(IEP) or Service Plan through their local school district. Hershey Montessori may offer sufficient support for a student with an IEP/Service
Plan and strives to offer referrals to community programs or resources for those students who are not receiving particularly specialized support in the Montessori context.
How do children adapt to other educational settings?
The qualities of a young person who has grown up in a Montessori environment specifically include: creativity, adaptability, independence in both thinking and in
managing one's life, and a strong concern for and dedication to the future of humanity.
Students in a Montessori environment learn to be resourceful and to find the information they need when they need it. They learn to collaborate with others to
find the best solutions to problems. They also learn to speak their opinions and listen openly to the views of others. Hershey Montessori children speak with confidence in public, apply their skills creatively, and understand diplomacy. They comfortably work side by side with people of all ages.
Hershey students enroll in High School programs that best suit their interests, learning style and strengths. These students are well prepared for any educational setting they choose. These include independent schools, public schools, parochial and boarding schools around the country. Due to their highly developed skills of
independence, they will adapt well and continue to thrive in their new learning communities.
Does Montessori use grades for students under 14 years of age? / How is assessment addressed?
Teacher observation, built in controls-of-error and developing habits of self assessment.
The Montessori guide is with the same student for three to four years and comes to know their strengths and abilities intimately. The majority of
Montessori education is based upon the teacher's observation of the child's response and ability. They keep careful track of student progress over
the years that they are with each child. Montessori students are shown strategies to self-assess the quality of their work which becomes a work habit
and learning characteristic for all children. this begins with "points of interest" and built-in controls of error in the materials becoming conscious
self-assessment around the age of three.
Motivation, evaluation and the human tendency for self perfection: The ability to check ones own work, for example to validate one's math calculations
or verify ones science data responds to the child's human tendency for self-perfection. Teachers observe the process and outcomes of the students work
but this is not the primary motivation for the child's desire to accomplish the goal. Montessori does not find grades a useful sustaining method of
motivating children toward maximum effort. Rather Montessori strives to ensure the child is motivated to repeat, to apply deep concentration and to
sustain active engagement to a task through:
Other standard measures: see About Hershey for more information about assessment.
- the developmentally relevant nature of the material taught
- the interest-based quality of the child's chosen work
- the open ended nature of the scope and time possible for the study
- the degree of intellectual challenge to the individual
- the relevance of the work to their developing sense of self-in-community
What Research is Available on the Efficacy of Montessori?
We recommend the following sources:
- Angeline Lillard's (University of Virginia) research, "Montessori, The Science Behind The Genius" is an academically respected study published by Oxford University Press (2005).
- Also www.sciencemag.org SCIENCE Vol 313 29, September 2006 published by AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science).
- Outcomes for Students in a Montessori Program, was conducted by NCERI (The National Center on Educational Restructuring and Inclusion, the Graduate School and University of New York). This reports the outcomes from longitudinal research on Montessori efficacy in the Milwaukee Public Schools. Link to www.montessori-ami.org/research/research.htm This publication and other research sources are also available through NAMTA: www.montessori-namta.org/NAMTA/geninfo/rschintro.htm
What about the education and training of the teachers?
At the Concord Campus, all our lead teachers have completed AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) training for the level they serve. This training ensures that the
teacher is deeply knowledgeable about the developmental psychology of the children they serve in addition to how to invite and inspire the child's
attention for independent use of the didactic (self teaching) materials and environment. AMI Montessori teachers have a minimum of a Bachelor's
degree and the Montessori teacher training is equivalent of an additional year of graduate study. Many of the Montessori teacher training centers are
affiliated with graduate programs so many teachers have also completed their Master's of Education degree.
At the Huntsburg Campus our teachers have completed the NAMTA Orientation to Adolescence course in addition to their degrees and specialty training. Many also have AMI Montessori training at one or two other levels.
How do Montessori graduates do?
Because Montessori fosters the ability to pursue ones interests in great depth, and to have strong commitment to one's environment and community many students
are publicly known for their accomplishments and contributions. Many others are leading successful, fulfilled and happy lives as responsible citizens
contributing to their communities on seven continents around the world.
Some Montessori students who are publically recognized include:
Others connections with Montessori:
- Joshua Bell, American violinist
- Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com
- Dr. Terry Brazelton, noted pediatrician and published author on child psychology
- Sergey Brin and Larry Page, co-founders of Google
- George Clooney, Academy Award-winning actor
- Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton
- Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, rapper and CEO of Bad Boy Records
- Julia Child, first world-famous television chef
- Anne Frank, renowned World War II diarist
- Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Austrian painter and architect
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Prize winner for Literature
- Katherine Graham, owner-editor of The Washington Post
- Prince William and Prince Harry, sons of Charles, Prince of Wales
- Helen Hunt, Academy Award-winning actress
- Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, former editor, former first lady
- Lea Salonga, multi-awarded singer and Broadway actress
- Will Wright, designer of The Sims video games
- Alexander Graham Bell, noted inventor, provided financial support directly to Dr. Montessori, helped establish the first Montessori class in
Canada and one of the first in the United States
- Bruno Bettelheim, noted psychologist/author, was married to a Montessori teacher
- Thomas Edison, noted scientist and inventor, helped found a Montessori school
- Erik Erikson, anthropologist/author, had a Montessori teaching certificate
- Mahatma Ghandi, political and spiritual leader of India for human rights and non-violence
- Jean Piaget, noted Swiss psychologist, made his first observations of children in a Montessori school
- Mister Rogers, children's TV personality, strong supporter of Montessori education
- President Wilson's daughter trained as a Montessori teacher. There was a Montessori classroom in the basement of the White House during Wilson's presidency.