The Montessori Philosophy

The Montessori approach to education is grounded in the belief that children have a dynamic inner desire to explore and learn about their environment. Montessori curriculum is designed to develop a child's physical, intellectual, and spiritual potential to the fullest.  A prepared and stimulating classroom environment allows children to learn at their own pace, according to their own capabilities in a non- competitive atmosphere.

Montessori children are very adaptable. They have learned to work independently and in groups. Since they've been encouraged to make decisions from an early age, these children are problem-solvers who can make appropriate choices and manage their time well.

They have been encouraged to exchange ideas and discuss their work freely with others. Their good communication skills ease the way in new settings.

Research has shown that the best predictor of future success is a positive sense of self-esteem. Montessori programs, based on self-directed, non-competitive activities, help children develop strong, self-images and the confidence to face challenges and change with optimism.

Some Comparisons With Traditional Education

Montessori Traditional
Emphasis on: cognitive structures and social development Emphasis on: rote knowledge and social development
Teacher has unobstrusive role in classroom activity; child is an active participant in learning Teacher has dominant, active role in classroom activity; child is a passive participant in learning
Environment and method encourage internal self-discipline Teacher acts as primary enforcer of enforcer of external discipline
Instruction, both individual and group, adapts to each student's learning style Instruction, both individual and group, conforms to the adult's teaching style
Mixed age grouping Same age grouping
Children are encouraged to teach, collaborate, and help each other Most teaching is done by teacher and collaboration is discouraged
Child chooses own work from interests and abilities Curriculum structured for child with little regard for child's interests
Child formulates own concepts from self-teaching materials Child is guided to concepts by teacher
Child works as long as she/he wishes on chosen project Child generally given specific time limit for work
Child sets own learning pace to internalize information Instruction pace usually set by group norm or teacher
Child spots own errors through feedback from the material If work is corrected, errors usually pointed out by teacher
Learning is reinforced internally through child's own repetition of an activity and internal feelings of success Learning is reinforced externally by rote repetition and rewards/discouragements
Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration Fewer materials for sensory development and concrete manipulation
Organized program for learning care of self and environment (polishing shoes, cleaning the sink, etc.) Less emphasis on self-care instruction and classroom maintenance
Child can work where she/he is comfortable, move around and talk at will (yet does not disturb the work of others). Child usually assigned own chair; encouraged to sit still and listen during group sessions
Organized program for parents to understand the Montessori philosophy and participate in the learning process Voluntary parent involvement, often only as fundraisers, not participants in understanding the learning process
An ungraded class is a natural social environment that includes a wide range of ages and fosters self-motivation. Students enjoy working for their own sense of accomplishment. Chronological grouping necessitates external rewards such as grades, competition and social conformity
An integral education balancing academic work with freedom of movement and harmony is created between physical, social and mental activities. There is an interrelationship between subjects. A fragmented education provides academic subjects that are not interrelated. Periods of intense mental effort are alternated with periods of vigorous physical activity by the teacher.
Independence is fostered by a classroom that is specifically designed to encourage maximum development Dependence is promoted since the activities are initiated by the teacher
A close student-teacher interaction enables complete and precise evaluation of student's progress, both academically and psychologically Class oriented teaching prevents close interaction between individual students and teacher. Standardized tests are necessary to determine student's progress.

"Multi-age classrooms encourage the development of collaboration between students of various ages. This type of setting also fosters opportunities for older students to mentor younger students and younger students the opportunity to develop strong leadership skills." - WASC Accreditation Report