Montessori History


Dr. Maria Montessori

Dr. Maria Montessori


History of the Montessori Education Approach


The Montessori approach to education takes its name from Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator (1870-1952). Dr. Maria Montessori developed her educational philosophy as a result of her observations of the way children naturally learn. Dr. Maria Montessori's first class consisted of 50-60 children, ages 3-6, and most of them suffered from malnutrition and were shy and fearful since they lived in the slums of Florence, Italy. Montessori found that the children needed very little persuading to do everyday tasks, puzzles or other interesting activities which allowed them to not direct their energy toward destructive behaviors. She described the ages from three to six as a particularly sensitive time during which young children are especially attuned to acquiring knowledge from and about their environment. To enrich their experience, Dr. Maria Montessori developed a "prepared environment", of child sized furniture and material, to adapt to the surroundings to the child's natural size and behavior. This helped the children to feel relaxed and comfortable which created a will to learn. Through this interaction and experience, the children developed an extraordinary high level of intellectual and social ability at young ages.


The Montessori Education Method


Maria Montessori expanded her study of the young child, and gradually refined her approach to all child development areas through her experience and research in countries as diverse as Spain and India until the time of her death in 1952. The Montessori Method is now being successfully implemented with children in nearly every country of the world. There was a significant influence in the United States in the early 1960's and today there are more than 3,000 Montessori programs in this country. The Montessori Method is applied most frequently in pre-school and elementary education grade levels but is very effective in the high school setting as well. Montessori education has no religious affiliation, is not a therapy, nor is it an approach useful only with certain categories of children. In addition, Montessori techniques can be used successfully with all children regardless if they are gifted, have learning disabilities or other special needs.