"Knowledge can best be given when there is an eagerness to learn, so this is the period when the seed of everything can be sown, the child's mind being like a fertile field, ready to receive what will germinate into knowledge."

Dr. Maria Montessori

Montessori Movement Celebrates 100 Years
January 6th 2007 marked 100 years since the first Montessori school was opened by Maria Montessori in Rome. It was the beginning of what rapidly became a global education and social movement which today has 22,000 schools in more than 100 countries.
Montessori Education
According to Maria Montessori, children carry within themselves an innate ability to become responsible and contributing members of society. In order to develop physically, intellectually and creatively, the child must have the freedom to achieve, through self-chosen work, in an environment which motivates activity and is rich with possibilities. Independence, concentration, coordination and a sense of order form the basic inherent qualities of development in a child. Montessori-trained teachers foster this growth through a prepared classroom environment of stimulating materials designed to encourage independence and self-discipline. The Primary curriculum honours self-paced growth and social cooperation. It includes the areas of art, practical life, peace education, sensorial impressions, language, reading, writing, mathematics, cultural studies and introduction to abstract concepts in concrete form. These exercises help children develop fine and gross motor skills, phonemic awareness, literacy and numerical understanding. Class activities also foster a global perspective on nature and people including lessons on individual, social, and cultural celebrations. In the Casa-Primary level, children stay with their teachers and peers in multiage groupings for a three year cycle.
 
The Benefits of a Montessori Education
  • Children develop a love for learning, for achieving and for creating
  • Children expect to be challenged
  • Children acknowledge that tasks have a beginning, a middle and an end
  • Children develop concentration and a love of quiet excitement
  • Children develop a milieu for classification and organization
  • Children learn to work with others and respect the diversities that make each one of them unique
  • Children learn to speak up and ask questions
  • Children develop independence and a sense of purpose
  • Children cherish the hands-on nature of their early experiences
  • Children develop the skill to assess their own performance and progress, and to establish goals for themselves

The efficacy of Montessori teaching methods has most recently been demonstrated by the results of a study published in the US journal, Science (September 29, 2006) which indicates that children in Montessori schools have improved behavioural and academic skills compared with a control group from the mainstream system. 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."

The study is available at http://www.montessori-science.org/.