What is Montessori?
Montessori education is a child-centered approach based on scientific observations of children’s interests and development. It was developed by Maria Montessori, an Italian scientist, activist, and educator. The key components of a Montessori classroom include highly trained teachers, a carefully prepared environment, the hands-on materials central to Montessori, multi-age classrooms, and child-directed work throughout an uninterrupted work period. Focus is on building 21st century skills such as executive function, social and emotional intelligence, critical thinking, creativity, and work habits throughout our nine-year program here at BMS. This is done through a spiraling curriculum that builds upon prior knowledge and adds complexity and depth of concepts throughout the phases of children’s education in the school. Concepts include all typical academic areas as well as the Early Childhood sensorial curriculum and a nine-year peace curriculum that includes age-appropriate lessons and practice in areas such as self-care, mindfulness, grace and courtesy, conflict resolution, living in a community, stewardship of the Earth, and community and global social and environmental issues.
Montessori was, perhaps above all, a brilliant and insightful observer. Many of the principles authored by Montessori have since been supported through modern sociological, psychological, and neurological research, including the following.
- Montessori’s theories of child development include the concept of “Sensitive Periods”, when neurological development and innate interests are most attuned to certain types of learning.
- Montessori once wrote that “the hands are the instrument of man’s intelligence”, and believed that movement and cognition are connected, and enhance each other.
- Humans thrive most when given freedom within limits.
- Curiosity and interest enhance learning, and spontaneous exploration of ideas should be encouraged.
- Extrinsic rewards negatively impact independent motivation, and instead intentional support should be given to the lifelong development of intrinsic motivation.
- Social learning is beneficial, and the four primary mechanisms of learning from peers include incorporation, distributed cognition, active learning, and motivation.
- Adult interaction should be carefully designed for optimal support of learners. The role of the teacher includes preparation of and link to the environment, kind and firm accountability, careful observation and interpretation, engaging guidance through the curriculum, and non-invasive assessment.
- Concentration and self-regulation are learnable and vital tasks.
- An organized, beautiful, and orderly environment is beneficial to children.
- Children are spiritual and capable beings, and thus the whole child should be attended to by the curriculum.
- Concrete learning with scaffolding to deeper and abstract concepts aids children’s comprehension and engagement (this is often visualized as a spiral).
For more information on the Montessori Method, please visit the American Montessori website:
For more information on modern research related to Montessori, we recommend MONTESSORI: The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard.
For more information on Maria Montessori and the history of the Montessori movement, please visit: