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History of The Montessori Method

Montessori was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori over 100 years ago

and is proven successful in diverse cultures in over 110 countries worldwide.


  Who is Dr. Maria Montessori:

  1. Born in Italy in 1870 in the town of Chiaravalle, in the province of Ancona, Italy

  2. At 13 years old she enter technical school, with encouragement from her mother

  3. Studied engineering (at the Regia Scuola Tecnica Michelangelo Buovarrotientered) school during a time the field was reserved for men and she met resistance on this path

  4. She changed her major to medicine

  5. In 1896, she became the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree

  6. In 1896 and 1900, she was chosen to represent Italy at two different women's conferences, one in Berlin in 1896 and one in London in 1900

  7. Worked in a Orthrophrenic Psychiatric Hospital for "mentally deficient" children

  8. She studied Itard and Seguin, who had researched how people learn

  9. Shifting her focus from the body to the mind, she returned to the university in 1901, this time to study anthropology, psychology and philosophy

  10. In 1904, she was made a professor of anthropology at the University of Rome

  11. In 1906 she gave up her university chair and her medical practice to work with a group of sixty young children of working-class parents in the San Lorenzo district of Rome. As "normal" children, they entered her program "wild and unruly" and were considered developmentally "deficient". She placed them in a small room, hired an untrained teacher whom she taught to observe the children and respond to their questions and needs, and observed the results.  They responded to her teaching methods and the first Casa dei Bambini, or "Children's House was founded. She proved children relate to and react with their environment. She put out materials to help develop daily living skills that the children lacked and enhanced the child's senses. The children responded extremely well. Based on her scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood that values the human spirit are what ultimately became the cornerstone of the Montessori method

  12. She created the “child-centered” educational approach and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive known worldwide as the Montessori Method where the child is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment

  13. In 1913, she made her first visit to the United States, the same year that Alexander Graham Bell and his wife Mabel founded the Montessori Educational Association at their Washington, DC, home. Among her other strong American supporters were Thomas Edison and Helen Keller.

  14. In 1915, she attracted world's attention with her "glass house" schoolroom exhibit at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco. On this second U.S. visit, she also conducted a teacher training course and addressed the annual conventions of both the National Education Association and the International Kindergarten Union. The committee that brought her to San Francisco included Margaret Wilson, the daughter of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.

  15. In 1940, Education for Peace was developed by her and her son, Mario Montessori, who were interned as enemy aliens when India entered World War II, but she was still permitted to conduct training courses. She viewed the child as the hope of mankind, the builder of culture, and took great care to articulate this philosophy to others. Because of her passion and dedication to Peace Education, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times--in 1949, 1950, and 1951

  16. In 1952, Dr. Maria Montessori died at the age of 76, in Noordwijk, Holland. A citizen not of Italy, nor of Holland, but as she was so often quoted saying, "of the world". Upon her death her son Mario took over her work 

  17. In 1960, the American Montessori Society (AMS) was established in the United States.

  18. Currently, the Montessori philosophy continues to grow throughout the world. Many organizations support some interpretation of the Montessori philosophy

Authentic Montessori includes:

  1. Mixed age groupings which foster peer learning

  2. Uninterrupted blocks of work time which improves focus

  3. Guided choice of age appropriate work activities

  4. Attractively learning materials which are meticulously arranged, aesthetically pleasing and available in a child centered environment

  5. A trained Montessori teacher who understands child development and can recognize when children are in their sensitive periods for heightened learning                                                                                  

The Learning Triangle (Teacher, Child, and Environment):

  1. The teacher prepares the environment to attract the child’s interest and encourage independence, freedom of choice and a sense of order 

  2. The child may only choose the projects after receiving a lesson by the teacher.  The teacher only gives a lesson to the child when it is age appropriate and the child has mastered the previous projects in the sequence

  3. The child makes use of what the environment offers to develop himself, interacting with the teacher when a lesson or support is needed

Mixed ages are a hallmark of the Montessori Method:

  1. Younger children learn from older children

  2. Older children reinforce their learning by teaching concepts they have mastered

*This mirrors the real world, where individuals work and socialize with people of all ages and dispositions.


Sensitive Periods

A Sensitive Period is a window of time in which the child has a heightened interest of a topic where learning can happen at an exponential rate if more is available to him. As their students develop, Montessori teachers match appropriate lessons and materials to these sensitive periods when learning is most naturally absorbed and internalized.

Early Childhood Years

Children learn through sensory-motor activities, working with materials that develop their cognitive powers through direct experience: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and movement.

Elementary Years

Children continue to organize their thinking as they pass from the concrete to the abstract. This organization of information of facts and concepts prepares him for the world of adolescence, when thought and emotion evolve into understanding more abstract, universal concepts such as equity, freedom, and justice.  Montessori students learn to think critically, work collaboratively, and act boldly.

Montessori Classrooms

Are aesthetically pleasing, inviting and thoughtfully arranged with age appropriate materials designed for a child-centered environment to challenge each child’s cognitive, emotional, physical and creative learning.


Montessori Schools

More than 4,500 Montessori schools in America and more than 20,000 worldwide.

Montessori Learning Materials

Learning materials and projects which all have specified learning purpose.


Books on Maria Montessori and her work:

Rita Kramer, Maria Montessori: A Biography", 1976

E.M. Standing, "Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work", 1957

Barbara O'Connor, "Mammolina: A Story About Maria Montessori (Creative Minds Biography)

"History of the Montessori Method of Education", Pat Davis (c) ESH Project Leaders Consortium
"Maria Montessori: A Brief Biography", O"kemos Montessori Radmoor History

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