THE MONTESSORI METHOD
Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, developed the Montessori method of education over 100 years ago. Through her observations of children at work and play, Dr. Montessori recognized that humans experience distinctive developmental periods in their journey from birth to adulthood. Montessori knew that if children were placed in a learning environment specifically designed to meet their needs at a particular developmental period, learning would be effortless, joyful, and satisfying.
Montessori has several key components that distinguish it from other modes of education. Montessori classrooms are multi-aged, encompassing children in a 3-year mixed age group, and tend to be large, often with 28–30+ children per class. These features permit children to learn at their own pace and offer opportunity to both lead and follow from their peers.
Montessori teachers, or Guides, are specially trained in the developmental needs of the children at the age they serve. Their classroom, also known as the prepared environment, boasts beautifully constructed, scientifically designed hands-on manipulative materials, each one highlighting a particular idea or concept. Montessori learning environments support the development of the whole child, encompassing the social, physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual development of the individual. The development of independence, free will, and a love of work support the child in a lifetime of learning.
Supported by recent trends in brain research and highlighted in current scientific studies, Montessori education is an increasing popular alternative for many parents. While typically associated with pre-school aged children, there are Montessori programs for children from infancy through middle school with increased interest in the development of high school models as well. Currently, Montessori schools can be found in over 110 countries on six continents. The United States has approximately 4,000 private and 300 public Montessori school districts. The Atlanta Montessori community boasts more than 70 Montessori schools serving thousands of Atlanta-area children.