What is Montessori?   


Maria Montessori Timeline

In the early 1900's Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy's first female physician, studied children in all conditions throughout the world and discovered universal principles underlying their development:

  • - Children have a natural desire and deep drive to learn.
  • - Children absorb all aspects of their culture and civilization without effort or fatigue.
  • - If given the freedom to explore and make choices, children will be self-motivated to learn.
  • - This desire to learn through self-discovery will continue throughout their lifetime if carefully nurtured.

Her lifetime of research and work with children grew into what is called the Montessori method. Every species, including humans, develops according to the fundamental laws of their nature. Children develop in predictable cycles or phases (called "planes of development" in Montessori). Within those cycles, each child develops according to his or her own individual nature. The Montessori method uses the child's natural development as the framework for their education.

This approach is different from the uniform, incremental approach most of us consider "traditional" education, where children travel a predictable trajectory in sync with all other children. A Montessori education is highly individual.

If you are a parent interested in Montessori education, or whose child is already enrolled at MIR and would like to understand Montessori further, we recommend the following books:

Parents may also be interested in Aid to Life, a website that gives insight into the healthy development of children from birth to age 6 and how you can support that development.

For anyone interested in more information about Dr. Maria Montessori and a Montessori education, we recommend the following sites.

Association Montessori Internationale
AMI was founded by Dr. Maria Montessori to maintain the integrity of her life's work. Their web site offers information about AMI, Dr. Montessori, and the Montessori method.

North American Montessori Teachers' Association (NAMTA)
NAMTA provides study interpretation and communication about Montessori education.

The Montessori Institute of San Diego (MISD)
MISD is a training center for Montessori Primary teachers, offering the Primary course in English or Spanish. MISD grants the AMI International Diploma, which allows the holder to teach Primary classes (ages 3-6) in Montessori schools anywhere in the world.

The Montessori Foundation
The Montessori Foundation was established by four leaders of the American Montessori Society (AMS) to create an independent source for assistance, encouragement, and support for the international Montessori community. The foundation publishes Tomorrow's Child, a magazine written specifically for parents with children enrolled in Montessori schools.

Montessori Connections
A clearinghouse of information related to Montessori.

It is necessary, then, to give the child the possibility of developing according to the laws of his nature, so that he can become strong, and, having become strong, can do even more than we dared hope for him.--Maria Montessori