Why Montessori?

As Dr. Maria Montessori explained in her handbook:

“The technique of my method, as it follows the guidance of the natural physiological and psychical development of the child, may be divided into three parts: motor education, sensory education, and language. 

The functions to be established by the child fall into two groups: 1) the motor functions by which he is to secure his balance and learn to walk, and to coordinate his movements; 2) the sensory functions through which, receiving sensations from his environment, he lays the foundations of his intelligence by a continual exercise of observation, comparison and judgment.  In this way he gradually comes to be acquainted with his environment and to develop his intelligence.” 

What is Montessori?

The Montessori Method of Education was developed by Dr. Montessori who, by the process of scientific observation, discovered the inner spirit of the child.  Dr. Maria Montessori was born in Chiaravalle, Italy in 1870.  Her family moved to Rome when she was five, where she had access to educational opportunities usually not pursued by females at the time.  She enrolled at the University of Rome and became the first woman to graduate with a medical degree. 

Her main interest was in children with neurological diseases.  She studied the works of two French physicians, Jean Itard and Edouard Seguin, who had done extensive research on mentally deficient children.  After she introduced her method of learning and the accompanying learning materials she designed to children labeled as mentally deficient, they were able to pass ordinary school exams.

In 1907, the Italian government offered her an opportunity to work with regular children in a day care center/nursery. She studied the fifty 3 to 6 year olds and recorded how enthusiastically they worked, without force or coercion.  She observed in the children an inner calmness, an ability to concentrate for long periods of time, the quick absorption of complex skills and sophisticated knowledge, and a developed self-discipline that allowed her to step back and direct their development. Her method of teaching quickly became of interest to educators around the world. 

“The school must give the child’s spirit space and opportunity for expansion.”  Dr. Montessori, The Absorbent Mind.

Oak Hill Montessori has established its first Montessori classroom of children ages 3 to 6.  Dr. Montessori discovered a three year age range is extremely important because the children help one another: Younger ones observe what older ones are doing, arousing their curiosity and older children can teach younger ones what they know and understand differently than a teacher can.  This interaction also encourages a sense of community, cooperation, and a feeling of achievement, making for a united, peaceful, and happy learning environment.

To help parents unfamiliar with a Montessori education better understand what to expect, parent workshops will begin in fall 2011.