Montessori education is a system for the education of
children from birth through age 18. It is based upon
principles developed by Dr. Maria Montessori throughout
her life.

The focus of this system is the development of materials,
educational techniques, and observations which support
the natural development of children. The teacher in a
Montessori classroom serves less an “instructor” and
more as a guide and facilitator. Children are encouraged
to “learn how to learn”, thus gaining independence and
self-confidence. Because the method is based upon
developmentally appropriate activities, the child often
learns through the process of education – by doing.
About Montessori Education
   The Montessori school is designed to accommodate various stages of development in children which occur in
roughly 3 year cycles. From birth to 3 years of age the child is absorbing directly from the environment,
analogous to a sponge. It is during this phase that many language and motor skills are acquired without formal

  During the second phase from 3 to 6 years of age, the child reaches a different stage in which repetition and
manipulation of the environment are critical to the development of concentration, coordination, independence,
and a sense of order. The child learns skills for everyday living, sorting, grading, classifying – all of which lead to
the development of writing, reading, and a mathematical mind.

  When the child reaches the next phase of development, ages 6 to 9, the imagination of the child is the key to
learning. At this age there is an increasing awareness of the world and an interest in its wonders. The
classroom can now excite the child by using this increased imagination to explore the universe. During this
phase the child is presented with “the big picture,” an overview of the inter-relatedness of things. The curriculum
works from the large concept to the more refined. Concepts are introduced through hands-on materials which
encourage and engage the child and assist in understanding of concepts before they are committed to memory.

  As the child enters the next phase, from 9 to 12, the world is an ever-expanding place. The horizons of the
imagination increase and concepts may be presented and abstracted with fewer manipulative materials. The
students’ hands-on activities broaden in scope and include practical application outside the classroom. Projects
become more involved and diverse in nature.

  Because the child goes through these various stages, Montessori classrooms are organized into three year
groupings. This allows a greater flexibility in meeting each child’s individual needs. The environment becomes
the “teacher,” with the child as the initiator of her/his own education.

  The Montessori approach to education was reintroduced in the United States around 1960. By today’s
estimates, there are at least 4,800 Montessori schools in the country, serving some 400,000 children from
infancy through secondary levels, in both public and private settings.

  Special training is required for becoming a Montessori teacher. Montessori teacher education is available in
almost 100 institutions located throughout the U.S. and in many other countries of the world, in both special-
purpose institutions and college/university settings.

  Click here to read Frequently Asked Questions from NAMTA.