What is Montessori?

Montessori is a scientifically founded instruction philosophy for children and adolescence developed in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator.

Montessori is a child-focused approach in which students are self-motivated, self-paced, and guided by teachers, peers, and their environment. Under the Montessori method, each child is recognized as an individual with their own unique abilities, interests, and learning plan.

The Montessori philosophy emphasizes students’ respect for self, others, their world, and their environment. The educational method also has strong ties to social justice and recognizes education as essential for world peace. As a result, Montessori education fosters independence while encouraging curiosity, confidence, empathy, and lifelong learning.

In Montessori classrooms, children explore all areas of development — cognitive, emotional, physical, and social — and students are encouraged to identify and pursue projects of intrigue.

Montessori teaching methods can be found in private and public schools. Although typically secular, many faith-based programs have also integrated Montessori practices.

How does Montessori instruction compare to traditional methods?

Under the Montessori philosophy, teachers act as gentle guides in the classroom — they are not the focal point or authoritative figure of learning.

Montessori education supports a “discovery model” of learning instead of direct instruction. Under this approach, there is less emphasis on grades and tests. Instead, students understand concepts by working with educational, eco-friendly material and have self-directed curricula with selective activities within a range of options.

A mark of Montessori instruction, students often have uninterrupted work time blocks up to three hours. Students also take part in hands-on learning, creative, age-appropriate activities, and collaborative play. Students’ ability to self-assess and correct are also integral components of Montessori instruction.

What does a Montessori classroom look like?

Montessori classrooms are purposefully clean and tidy environments that easily facilitate free movement. In Montessori settings, classrooms are organized educational environments where materials are accessible, size-appropriate, and subject-organized, with several sensory learning stations.

Student groups also range from small to large, and lessons quickly convert from tables to the floor and inside to outside environments. Montessori classes are also known for their bright and bold colors, cultural objects, and natural materials.

Montessori classes are communal, and students vary in age within three years. Here, older students are mentors, younger students feel supported, and trained Montessori teachers model kindness and conflict resolution strategies while observing each child’s tendencies and talents.

Interested in learning more about Goodwin University Magnet Schools? Please visit Riverside Magnet School (pre-K through grade 5) and/or Connecticut River Academy (Grades 6 through 12).

Magnet schools offer several benefits including:

  • Academic success that prepares students for a lifetime of achievement
  • Diverse student body that encourages respect, empathy and collaboration
  • Family and community involvement that instills a passion for learning and growth
  • Flexible and innovative curriculum centered around a unifying theme