The Montessori Philosophy
We teachers can only help the work going on, as servants wait upon a master.
- Dr Maria Montessori
The Montessori Philosophy
The Montessori method of education was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori who was the first female, Italian physician. Dr. Montessori developed this approach through the scientific observation of children all over the world. Through her observations, Dr. Montessori found consistent, naturally developing tendencies and characteristics that would serve as the foundation for the creation of optimally prepared environments that would encourage and support the realization of childrens’ full potential.
Every teaching method, however, sparks moments of learning. Then why is Montessori so different? The difference is the method itself. The mind of a child is like a sponge—absorbing everything, always at the ready to learn something new. The primary goal of Montessori education? To turn that spark into a lifelong flame.
These key principles contribute to the success of Montessori education:
- Multimodal Learning – Learning happens through movement, touch, sight, and sound.
- Mixed Age Classrooms – Placing children in mixed-age groups, corresponding to planes of development, allows them to relate to children who are both older and younger. It also allows for a “confidence interval” around learning in that a child is not labeled as either behind or gifted simply because they acquire a concept a little earlier or a little later than same-age peers.
- Observation – Observation of the child reveals the proper timing for the presentation of new information and experiences academically, socially, and personally.
- Developmental – Awareness of the needs and abilities during specific times of development allows for optimal engagement and learning for the child.
- Classroom Community – The classroom experience should build on the desire of the young child to master his or her environment. The classroom community is child-centered rather than adult-centered.
- Materials – The use of self-correcting materials allows children to manipulate and explore at their own pace and experience satisfaction and develop self-confidence with success.
Beginning with Montessori
Montessori Infant & Toddler programs offer so much more than childcare. The classroom design fosters your young child’s emerging independence and desire for exploration. The environments are designed to promote your child’s growth in all areas of development. Additionally, Montessori Infant & Toddler programs provide support and guidance for families through programs that may include parent education and parent/child group experiences.
What Will Your Child Learn?
During the first 3 years of life, your child develops more rapidly than at any other time. During this phase, your child absorbs large amounts of information from the environment through observation and experiences. These are the years that lay the foundation for later learning—and the stronger the foundation, the more the child will be able to build upon it.
Montessori Infant & Toddler programs offer a curriculum that emerges from each child’s unique skills and interests. Based on daily observations, teachers introduce new materials and activities that pique curiosity and stimulate learning. Learning objectives for your child at this age include developing skills such as language, concentration, problem solving, visual discrimination, and physical coordination.
The routines of everyday living are the foundation of Montessori Infant & Toddler programs. Activities promote independence, order, coordination, and concentration, as well as support social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. These learning activities include:
- Self-care: washing, dressing, toileting, and eating, according to each child’s individual capacity
- Care of the environment: cleaning, food preparation, and food service; plant care and animal care
- Large-motor activities (indoors and out): walking, climbing, running, jumping, balancing, climbing steps, and more
- Fine-motor skills: reaching, grasping, picking up objects, transferring objects, using tools and utensils, doing artwork
- Language: naming objects, describing actions and intentions, discussing pictures, conversation, music, and singing
- Social skills: developing manners through interactions with peers, teachers, and adult-led small group games
The Montessori Classroom
Montessori Infant & Toddler Programs may include:
An Infant Class (birth – 18 months)
A Montessori classroom for infants, sometimes referred to as “The Nido” (Italian for “nest”), accommodates non-mobile or crawling infants in a peaceful classroom environment. Here, the infant safely explores, feeling secure in the presence of loving adult caregivers. The environment includes developmentally appropriate furniture and materials. Safety is paramount, but equipment that limits a child’s freedom of movement is avoided. Instead, specially designed furniture supports your child’s budding independence, including bars for pulling up, mirrors to reflect body movement, and a sleeping area with individual floor beds/mats, and child-sized tables and chairs rather than high chairs.
A Toddler Class (18 months – age 3)
A Montessori classroom for toddlers safely supports your child’s drive to do things alone, developing confidence and a sense of competence. The environment is language-rich, with adults using proper nomenclature rather than baby talk so that the children are exposed to and develop a broad vocabulary. Adults also support toddlers in communicating with each other. A range of books allows children to explore on their own or read aloud with an adult.
In this learning environment, children work independently, observe others, explore freely, and express their curiosity and creativity. A self-care area fosters toilet awareness and independence in maintaining personal hygiene (such as learning how to wipe one’s nose and wash hands independently). A sleeping area with individual floor beds/mats that allows toddlers to exercise autonomy in preparing for rest and allows them to get up independently once rested. There is also an area for gross motor activities to help children coordinate their movements, and low tables that enable them to help prepare, serve, eat, and clean up their snacks and meals.
A Parent-Child Class
In a Montessori Parent-Child Class, you and your child will interact alongside a Montessori-trained teacher in a thoughtfully prepared environment. These activities will support your child’s sense of discovery and encourage independent investigation of the learning environment. In the class, you and your child will experience an environment set up to encourage movement, language, and learning through hands-on activities—all of which you can then apply at home.