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Based on theories of child development

originated by Italian educator Maria
Montessori in the late 19th and early 20th

Austin Montessori 2007-2008

 Applied primarily in preschool and
elementary school settings
 Some Montessori high schools exist
 Characterized by an emphasis on self-
directed activity on the part of the child and
clinical observation on the part of the teacher
 (often called a "director," "directress," or "guide“)
 Stresses the importance of adapting the
child's learning environment to his
developmental level, and of the role of
physical activity in absorbing academic
concepts and practical skills
• One distinguishing feature of Montessori at
the preschool age is that children direct their
own learning, choosing among the sections
of a well-structured and stocked classroom
– Practical Life (fine and gross motor skill
– Sensorial (sensory and brain development),
– Language,
– Math,
– Geography,
– Science and
– Art.
• The role of a teacher is to introduce children
to materials and then remain a “silent
 Dr. Montessori advocated children's rights, children working
to develop themselves into adults, and that these
developments would lead to world peace
 The Montessori method discourages traditional
measurements of achievement (grades, tests) under the
premise that it is damaging to the inner growth of children
(and adults).
 Feedback and qualitative analysis of a child's performance
does exist but is usually provided in the form of a list of
skills, activities and critical points, and sometimes a
narrative of the child's achievements, strengths and
weaknesses, with emphasis on the improvement of those
 Children develop and think differently than adults
 They are not merely "adults in small bodies"
of a Montessori approach to teaching and
 A view of children as competent beings capable of
self-directed learning.
 That children learn in a distinctly different way from
 The ultimate importance of observation of the child
interacting with her or his environment as the basis
for ongoing curriculum development.
 Presentation of subsequent exercises for skill development
and information accumulation are based on the teacher's
observation that the child has mastered the current
 Delineation of sensitive periods of development,
during which a child's mind is particularly open to
learning specific skills or knowledge, including
language development, sensorial experimentation
and refinement, and various levels of social
 A belief in the "absorbent mind", that children
from birth to around age 6 possess limitless
motivation to achieve competence within their
environment and to perfect skills and
 This phenomenon is characterized by the young child's
capacity for repetition of activities within sensitive period
categories, such as exhaustive babbling as language
practice leading to language competence.
 That children are masters of their environment,
which has been specifically prepared for them to
be academic, comfortable, and allow a maximum
amount of independence.
 That children learn through discovery, so didactic
materials that are self-correcting are used as
much as possible.
• Montessori is a highly hands-on approach to
• It encourages children to develop their
observation skills by doing many types of
• These activities include use of
• the five senses,
• kinetic movement,
• spatial refinement,
• small and large motor skill coordination, and
• concrete knowledge that leads to later abstraction.
 A child does not engage in an activity until the teacher or
another student has directly demonstrated its proper use,
and then the child may use it as desired (limited only by
individual imagination or the material's potentially
dangerous qualities).
 Each activity leads directly to a new level of learning or
 When a child actively learns, that child acquires the basis for
later concepts.
 Repetition of activities is considered an integral part of this
learning process, and children are allowed to repeat
activities as often as they wish.
 If a child expresses boredom due to this repetition, then the
child is considered to be ready for the next level of learning.
 Children are introduced to equipment that is
designed especially for the lesson at hand.
 Children are introduced to sandpaper letters as
the first step to reading.
 Sandpaper letters are simple lower case letters cut out
of fine-grained sandpaper and mounted on wooden
cards. Simple sounds that flow together are introduced
 Children are taught the sounds of the letters, not
the names.
 The teacher shows the child the k sandpaper letter
and say kuh.
 The child is encouraged to trace the letter as he or she
says the sound aloud.
 Once the first letter is mastered, the child will be
introduced to another.
 When children have learned seven or eight
letter sounds, they are introduced to the
movable alphabet.
 The movable alphabet is a set of letter
cutouts where the vowels and consonants
are different colors.
 Using these letters, the child will learn how to
blend CVC (consonant vowel consonant)
sounds to form words such as "mat" and
 Angeline Stoll Lillard's 2005 book Montessori:
The Science Behind the Genius (Oxford
University Press) presents the first real
comprehensive overview of research done on
the comparison of Montessori educated
children to those educated in a more
traditional manner.
 Lillard cites research indicating that the
children do better in later schooling than
non-Montessori children do, in all subjects,
and argues the need for more research in
this area.
 A 2006 study published in the journal
"Science" concluded that Montessori
students performed better than their
standard public school counterparts in a
variety of arenas, including not only
traditional academic areas such as language
and mathematical reasoning, but in social
cognition skills as well.
 On several dimensions, children at a public
inner city Montessori school had superior
outcomes relative to a sample of Montessori
applicants who, because of a random lottery,
attended other schools.
 By the end of kindergarten, the Montessori
children performed better on standardized
tests of reading and math, engaged in
positive interaction on the playground more,
and showed advanced social cognition and
executive control more.
 They also showed more concern for fairness
and justice.
 At the end of elementary school, Montessori
children wrote more creative essays with
more complex sentence structures, selected
more positive responses to social dilemmas,
and reported feeling more of a sense of
community at their school.
 The authors concluded that, "when
strictly implemented, Montessori
education fosters social and academic
skills that are equal or superior to
those fostered by a pool of other types
of schools."