Montessori Philosophy and Practice

While not all Montessori schools are exactly alike, the American Montessori Society, one of the leading organizations dedicated to setting standards and furthering the Montessori philosophy, has defined the philosophy and practice as follows:

Key Concepts of the Montessori Philosophy:

  • The aim of Montessori education is to foster competent, responsible, adaptive citizens who are lifelong learners and problem solvers.

  • Learning occurs in an inquiring, cooperative, nurturing atmosphere. Students increase their own knowledge through self- and teacher-initiated experiences.

  • Learning takes place through the senses. Students learn by manipulating materials and interacting with others. These meaningful experiences are precursors to the abstract understanding of ideas.

  • The individual is considered as a whole. The physical, emotional, social, aesthetic, spiritual, and cognitive needs and interests are inseparable and equally important.

  • Respect and caring attitudes for oneself, others, the environment, and all life are necessary.

The Montessori teacher is educated in these areas:

  • Human growth and development.

  • Observational skills to match students' developmental needs with materials and activities. This allows the teacher to guide students in creating their individual learning plan.

  • An open-ended array of suggested learning materials and activities that empower teachers to design their own developmentally responsive, culturally relevant learning environment.

  • Teachers use strategies that support and facilitate the unique and total growth of each individual.

  • Classroom leadership skills foster a nurturing environment that is physically and psychologically supportive of learning.

A Montessori classroom must have these basic characteristics:

  • Teachers educated in the Montessori philosophy and methodology appropriate to the age level they are teaching, who have the ability and dedication to put the key concepts into practice.

  • A partnership with the family. The family is considered an integral part of the individual's total development.

  • A multi-aged, multi-graded, heterogeneous group of students.

  • A diverse set of Montessori materials, activities, and experiences, which are designed to foster physical, intellectual, creative and social independence.

  • A schedule that allows large blocks of uninterrupted time to problem solve, to see the interdisciplinary connections of knowledge, and to create new ideas.

  • A classroom atmosphere that encourages social interaction for cooperative learning, peer teaching, and emotional development.

(Thank you to the American Montessori Society for allowing us to use the above descriptions)