What is Montessori?
Montessori is an educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori in the first half of the 20th century. This approach is now practiced in thousands of schools in the U.S. and around the world, serving children from preschool through high school. Montessori education is based on stages of a child's natural development, following children as they grow and learn as individuals. The common characteristics shared across all stages are: student choice, hands-on materials, mixed-age classrooms, and the comprehensive Montessori curriculum.
In Montessori schools the children are free to choose the activities that engage them deeply, and work with such activities for extended periods. Montessori trained teachers prepare the classroom environment, present new lessons and materials, and guide students through their learning experience.
Montessori education may be best known for the carefully designed materials that engage children’s hands and imaginations, encouraging them to explore and discover ideas, from algebra to zoology and all points in between.
Mixed Age Classrooms
Montessori classrooms use three-year groupings based on children’s development. These groups are ages 3-6, 6-9 and 9-12 years old. Having mixed ages together allows for mentoring, modeling, peer learning, and a strong, vibrant classroom community. Children typically stay with the same teacher for three years at a time.