Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SORE-ee) education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children’s learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a “prepared environment” in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Now, nearly a century after Maria Montessori’s first “casa dei bambini” (children’s house) in Rome Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.
Montessori education emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities, thus enhancing their inbuilt intelligences. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Montessori classes place children in age groups starting as early as 18 months onwards. Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education. Research studies have shown that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children have always ranked above on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations with ease, because all kinds of intelligences and styles of learning are nurtured: musical, kinaesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, intuitive, and the traditional linguistic and logical intelligences. There are over 9000 Montessori schools spread across in 52 countries throughout the world.