Montessori Method

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Dr. Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori developed ideas by learning from other resources to create her theory/philosophy of education — heavily influenced by Jean Marc Gaspard Itard, Édouard Séguin, Friedrich Fröbel, and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, all of whom emphasized sensory exploration and manipulatives.


Montessori's first work with mentally disabled children, from 1896–1901, used the methods of Itard and Seguin, training children in physical activities such as walking and the use of a spoon, training their senses by exposure to sights, smells, and tactile experiences, and introducing letters in tactile form. From this came Montessori "Sensorial" materials. These materials were refined and developed through her work with children of all backgrounds and ability levels, all over the world.

A scientist at heart, the Montessori Method was developed through decades of Maria Montessori’s experience with and observations of children using her materials. Over 100 years later, cutting edge brain research corroborates the theories she developed through trial and error.

Guadalupe Montessori school

The Montessori Method

Montessori Education, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori and practiced in thousands of schools on six continents, recognizes the unique potential in each child and awakens a child's natural ability to learn and to teach themselves. Maria Montessori challenged the medical and educational establishment, championed the causes of working women and children and developed methods of teaching and observation that endure today. Learn more here.


The Six-Year Delevopment Cycle

The First Plane - Ages 0-6 years

The Second Plane - Ages 6-12 years

The Second Plane - Ages 6-12 years

  • Absorbent mind
  • Sensorial explorer
  • Facts and qualities
  • Adaptation to life around him/her
  • Functional independence


 Sensitive Periods

  • order
  • coordinated movement
  • language
  • mathematics
  • independent functioning
  • social skills

The Second Plane - Ages 6-12 years

The Second Plane - Ages 6-12 years

The Second Plane - Ages 6-12 years

  • Reasoning mind, questioning
  • Explores through imagination: how and why
  • Exploration of history: humanity through time
  •  Intellectual independence 


 Psychological Characteristics

  • untidy
  • tough/risk taking
  • strong herd instinct
  • hero worship
  • justice/morality
  • high capacity for intellectual work
  • Intellectual independence


The Montessori Curriculum

The curriculum follows Developmental Planes that are age-related, placing children in mixed-age sub-plane groups rather than in traditional 1-year time periods. For example, a Montessori Primary classroom has a sub-plane that includes 2½ to 6 year old children, corresponding to preschool and kindergarten in traditional schools. Third and fourth sub-planes are the 6 to 9, and 9 to 12 year levels, the elementary years. At GMS, we combine these two sub-planes into one, mixed age Elementary class. 

The First Plane

For the 0 to 6-year old level, the curriculum includes materials that reflect the world around the child, which the child can experience concretely with the senses as she holds, touches and manipulates them. The adult acts to facilitate the child's ability to make sound choices, set goals and develop increasing independence. At GMS, this plane is divided in to two sub-planes in our Toddler and Primary classes. The Toddlers (18 months- 3 years) are in the unconscious phase of the absorbent mind, and the Primary children (3-6 years) are generally considered conscious learners, as they begin to internalize logic and order as they develop more awareness of their relationship to the world around them. 

The Second Plane

For the six to twelve year old, who has developed powers of reasoning, abstraction, and imagination, the universe and all it contains is made available for study. Lessons in the form of stories and materials inspire children in the independent research and group projects. The curriculum includes the physical nature of the universe, human history and prehistory, literature, science, the arts, mathematics and geometry. 

Benefits of the Montessori Curriculum

 Encourage and establish:

  • the child's innate love of learning
  • a strong sense of social responsibility
  • social skills for relationships of tolerance and respect for one's self and for others
  • bonds among the children and teachers for lasting relationships that echo extended family

It is a unique environment that is a delight to observe. Once the child has begun in the Montessori classroom, it is important that she or he complete a full 3-year cycle. (This is especially true for the Primary and Elementary aged child.) If the cycle has not been completed, the child may have concentrated more in certain areas, with other areas not yet as fully developed. Often, work begun the first two years will crystallize in the child during the third year - that is, information will come together in a new or more complete way for the child for a very satisfying learning experience. When considering a Montessori education for your child, it is important to consider your commitment to the method over time. 

Other resources

The Life of Maria Montessori

North American Montessori Teacher's Association

The Life of Maria Montessori

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Maria Tecla Artemisia Montessori was born on August 31, 1870 at #10, Piazza Mazzini in Chiaravalle, Italy just south of San Marino on the Adriatic coast. View the time line of her life here. You can view her wikipedia page here

The Montessori Observer

North American Montessori Teacher's Association

The Life of Maria Montessori

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"The Montessori Observer is a website devoted to providing accurate and up-to-date Montessori news and information.  It serves as a resource for Montessorians, researchers and reporters, families, the general public, and anyone interested in Montessori education... The purpose is to give accurate and relevant Montessori information as wide a distribution as possible."

North American Montessori Teacher's Association

North American Montessori Teacher's Association

North American Montessori Teacher's Association

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 For 40 years, NAMTA has provided schools, teachers and parents vital services.  Learn more about NAMTA services here.

Aid to Life

The Montessori approach in 20 seconds (video)

North American Montessori Teacher's Association

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 The Aid to Life Initiative is founded on the idea that children develop optimally when they are brought up in an environment that supports their natural development, with an adult who understands how to connect them to positive activity and then allows them enough time to grow and develop according to their own pace and rhythm. 

The Montessori approach in 20 seconds (video)

The Montessori approach in 20 seconds (video)

The Montessori approach in 20 seconds (video)

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John Snyder, Austin Montessori School, Learning Beyond Measure- watch video

Montessori Language Program (video)

The Montessori approach in 20 seconds (video)

The Montessori approach in 20 seconds (video)

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Many elementary school children struggle with reading and writing. Watch this video, and discover how the child-centered, systematic instruction in a Montessori preschool classroom can prevent many of these struggles by teaching these foundational skills to younger children.