What is Montessori education? Before you select a school for your young child, take a look at the top questions parents have about Montessori answered.
Who Started Montessori?
This educational philosophy began with its namesake—Dr. Maria Montessori. The Italian educator was also a physician and scientist who devoted her life to researching and understanding child development and educational practices. Dr. Montessori used scientific observations and her extensive experience working with children to develop a completely new (at the time) type of educational program.
When Did Montessori Begin?
Dr. Montessori’s first Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House, opened on January 6, 1907, according to the American Montessori Society. The educator and physician started this first child care center (located in Rome’s San Lorenzo district) as a way to study and help the region’s most disadvantaged children.
Without other opportunities for learning, the Casa dei Bambini became a way for these children to grow and develop. Through careful observations and scientific study of the children, Dr. Montessori was able to create an individualized learning experience based on her own methods and materials.
By the spring of 1907, Dr. Montessori opened a second Children’s House (also in San Lorenzo). The educator opened her third Italian school later in the year, in October of 1907. Word of Dr. Montessori’s success spread quickly — as did the number of her schools. Montessori schools popped up across Europe and eventually came to America in 1911.
Even though the first American Montessori schools were highly successful and garnered support from notable figures of the time such as Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, by the 1920s, most of the 100-plus centers had closed. But in the 1950s a teacher from New York City, Nancy McCormick Rambusch, helped to bring the educational philosophy back.
How Is Montessori Different?
At first glance, Montessori preschools may look like any other early childhood classroom. While Montessori schools have child-sized furniture, books, art materials, and other items typically found in the pre-k classroom, the educational approach differs from other types of programs.
Dr. Montessori’s educational foundations include a prepared classroom environment, multi-age classes, child-led learning, and individualized experiences. Instead of lectures or standardized group projects, the Montessori educator creates an educational environment where the young student can make discoveries and develop at their own pace.
Is Montessori Right for Every Child?
When Dr. Montessori opened her first Children’s House, the school catered to underserved children. The students were unschooled and viewed at the time as unruly. In a modern context, Dr. Montessori’s first students had behavioral issues that interfered with their learning. Dr. Montessori eagerly welcomed these children to her school and created an educational program to help them.
Like the first Montessori programs, today’s schools can also help children with behavioral challenges. But this doesn’t mean every child who attends Montessori has a behavioral, developmental, or learning issue. These schools serve every type of child — starting in infancy or the toddler years (depending on the specific program).
How Can You Decide If Montessori Is Right for Your Child?
Now that you know the history and basics of the philosophy, it’s time to take the next step and decide whether this type of program is the right educational option for your child.
Before you decide whether to enroll your child in a Montessori program, visit the school and talk to the staff. The early childhood educators can help you to better understand how the educational philosophy can help your child to grow, develop, learn, and prepare for life.
Is your child ready to start a Montessori preschool program? Contact the Miniapple International Montessori School for more information.