Montessori education is a scientifically-based educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952). Montessori education is practiced in an estimated 20,000 schools worldwide, serving children from birth to 18 years of age.
Montessori Education is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development.
Essential elements in Montessori curriculum include:
- Mixed-age classrooms with groups of children aged three to five years old
- Students choose activities from within a prescribed range of options
- Uninterrupted blocks of work time
- A constructionist or discovery model, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction
- Specialized educational materials developed by Maria Montessori and her collaborators
Maria Montessori based her work on her observations of children experimenting with the environment, materials, and lessons available to them. She referred to her work as “scientific pedagogy.”