What is Montessori?

Montessori is an educational approach supporting the full development of the human being. It offers a broad vision of education as an ‘aid to life’. Montessori education provides specially prepared learning environments, equipped with scientific, purposeful activities suited to the child’s developmental needs and tendencies. The trained educators guide the children to facilitate learning, concentration and social development. Montessori education can be found in over 22,000 schools worldwide and has a longer track record of success than any other educational approach in the world.

The Montessori approach to education inspires children toward a lifelong love of learning, by following their natural developmental stages and tendencies. Children become confident, responsible, independent learners, who trust in their own abilities. The prepared nature of the environment allows children to act independently and respond to their natural tendency to work. Children have a spontaneous desire to learn and the Montessori classroom encourages this by giving them opportunities to engage in self-directed, purposeful activities with the guidance of a trained adult. Through their work, the children develop concentration and joyful self-discipline. Children progress at their own pace and rhythm according to their individual capabilities and interests.

Dr. Maria Montessori graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Rome in 1896, and was the first woman to practice medicine in Italy. As a physician, anthropologist and scientist, she brought a new perspective to the observation and study of human development. It is through scientific observation that she came to understand how children interact with the environment, including the people in it. She identified distinct stages of human development through her observation of children from many ethnic, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds from birth to maturity. Her understanding of human development, including the nature of the child and how he learns, was the basis for the development of activities and materials to serve child’s desire to learn and discover of the world.

In Canada, Montessori education is available for children from infancy through adolescence in early childhood education settings, child care services and primary and secondary schools. There are over 1000 Montessori schools across Canada from coast, to coast, to coast. Montessori programs are operated independently in various ways. Some are run as not-for-profit organizations, community-based associations, some as privately-owned programs and some are run as programs within the public school system.

"Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment." Maria Montessori