What is Montessori?

“Brickton is unique for its focus on the ‘whole’ child, and it has an intimate setting which affords a more direct interaction and relationship between directresses and students.  I sent my children because it offered the best social and education development for their age.”

Maribeth Pullman,
Mother of alumni Adam, Laken, and Maddie Pullman

The Montessori philosophy of teaching was created by Maria Montessori (1870-1952), an Italian physician whose inquiries extended into philosophy, psychology, and anthropology. However, it was in education that she found a practice that could unite and divine meaning from all of these diverse disciplines. Montessori developed a radical new approach to educating children, challenging the “assembly line” learning approach of the time, inventing teaching materials tuned precisely to the key stages of child development.

Her first “Children’s House” was founded in Italy in 1907; her approach quickly spread across Italy and worldwide; Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and Helen Keller were among her early advocates in the United States. It is based on her observations that in the proper environment children will teach themselves; that children flourish in an environment that is geared entirely to their needs and structured to their physical size; that in a child’s development there are optimal moments for acquisition and refinement of various critical skills (such as language); and that children have a deep desire and need to do the work of acquiring those skills. She developed many innovative classroom materials designed to help preschoolers master gross and fine motor skills, mathematics, spatial understanding, and sensory awareness. Montessori’s theories and practice extend through adolescence, with a specific curriculum all the way through sixth grade.

In a Montessori school, children learn in multi-age classrooms through a practice wherein a skill or idea is introduced to the child and practiced by self-directed, self-correcting repetition; frequently the child later demonstrates mastery by teaching others. It is a “whole child” approach, recognizing that children have needs that go far beyond the academic. Because it places responsibility for making choices on the child, Montessori-educated children gain impressive skills of self-discipline and independent thinking. As they get older, children in a Montessori program also develop strong organizational skills and excellent study habits.

Parents tell you, in their own words, what makes Montessori education special. Go “beyond 2+2” and see the difference that Montessori can make in your child’s life.

Click the links below to watch several short videos about the magic of Montessori: