What is Montessori education?

Within a prepared environment, children can move around freely and choose activities each at their own pace.

Roberta Frosolini

Born 1870 in Italy and living to 1952, Maria Tecla Artemisia Montessori was a physician, educator, and author on scientific pedagogy. Her innovative method provides children with freedom within constraints by ensconcing them within a prepared environment — the Casa dei Bambini — and letting them move around and choose their own activities at their own individual pace.

To engage in these and other activities requires a secure and peaceful environment, which is fostered in the Casa dei Bambini by Ground Rules. As children follow these rules they gain care and respect for themselves, for others and for the environment. In such a harmonious milieu children possess the freedom to choose their activities, to concentrate and to create.

With freedom comes responsibility; children may work with any material as long as they do so respectfully; they may carry out any activity provided they have been given a presentation about it by an adult guide; and upon finishing their work they are responsible for tidying up and putting away any materials.

Montessori in today’s world

With its impressive results, Maria Montessori’s method has gained popularity throughout the world and is applied in cultures far beyond her native Italy. Even in the West, the child’s world today —saturated with media, imbued with evolving parental values, and continuing to change at an ever-quickening pace — is not the same as it was back when Montessori designed and developed her educational activities. If adapting to the child is fundamental to the Montessori method, what does this mean when applying the method in unforeseen environments?

This issue remains a vibrant one in the Montessori world, represented on either ends by “pure” vs. “inspired-by” Montessori. At Via Montessori we value adaptation and innovation, believing, for example, that children should be prepared for the skills expected in their own particular country.

What is Montessori education?