The Montessori experience is the result of the observations and genius of Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952). Upon graduation as the first woman medical doctor in Italy, Dr. Montessori became interested in the education and training of young children.
Dr. Montessori's observations of children convinced her that each child carries within himself or herself the person he or she will become. Each child's potential is reached through a process of striving, aided by a growing sense of order and self-discipline. Each child must be free to develop at his or her own rate. Montessori designed materials and techniques that allowed her students to work in a way previously considered beyond their capacity. Montessori quickly saw a new and valuable relationship develop within the classroom. No longer was the student dependent on the teacher. The child was now free to use the environment and other children as tools in his or her learning.
The teacher, through the study and observation of children, prepares the environment to attract the child. As the child is drawn toward learning, the teacher/directress is free to provide individual and small group lessons and to observe each child. In turn, each child is free to choose enticing work and repeat it continuously, if desired, until he or she is satisfied. Thus fostered at an early age, concentration, curiosity, independence and a love of learning become the cornerstones upon which the child's confidence and competence as a learner are built. Montessori children grow learning, to observe, to think and to judge. Natural inquisitiveness and self-motivation become the roots from which the older child evolves and emerges as a socially confident and intellectually disciplined adolescent.
Dr. Montessori died in 1952. Today, after over 90 years of international application, the Montessori method thrives in throughout the world. In the United States, more than 4,000 schools have been established since 1957. In addition, national Montessori certification of teachers and school accreditation, through the American Montessori Society, is now available to ensure quality Montessori care and education.