Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori was born on August 31, 1870, in the small town of Chiaravalle in eastern Italy. The only child in the family, she was described as having a powerful character with a strong sense of duty and an assertive nature.

"A child's work," wrote Maria Montessori, "is to create the man he will become. An adult works to perfect the environment, but a child works to perfect himself." So Dr. Montessori, an engineer, physician, and educator, developed an approach to education that would aid the child in his or her work.


The Montessori method

The Montessori method, based on careful observation of and respect for the natural development of the child, has been used in schools around the world for over 100 years. Montessori's scientific observations of children's almost effortless ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings, as well as their tireless interest in manipulating materials led her to develop her educational method. Every piece of equipment, every exercise, every process Montessori developed was based on what she observed children to do "naturally," by themselves, unassisted by adults.

The Montessori Approach

The Montessori approach recognizes that a child is more responsive to certain learning experiences at particular times or "sensitive periods." Careful observation allows the Montessori-trained teacher to recognize these sensitive periods when a child is ready for a new learning experience. The teacher then can direct the child toward materials that will satisfy his/her development needs.

Children teach themselves

This simple but profound truth inspired Montessori's lifelong pursuit of educational reform, methodology, psychology, teaching, and teacher training--all based on her dedication to furthering the self-creating process of the child.

"It is true we cannot make a genius. We can only give each individual the chance to fulfill his potential to become an independent, secure and balanced human being."

- Maria Montessori

Want to learn more about Montessori?

Download this handout to learn more about the Montessori method.