Montessori is a method of education named after its founder, Maria Montessori, an Italian scientist, medical doctor, and educator. First developed with low-income and special needs children in 1907, Montessori education is practiced in public and private schools all over the world, serving children from birth to age eighteen. There are more than 5,000 Montessori schools in the U.S. alone, of which more than 500 are public programs.
Montessori education is a deep, detailed, and comprehensive approach to education which is practiced with some variation across schools and cultures. Well-implemented Montessori operating according to national and international standards typically includes some essential elements:
- a classroom environment and materials prepared according to Montessori’s developmental and educational theory
- an adult trained in the Montessori approach
- children freely choosing their own activities from a carefully selected range of materials and options during long, uninterrupted work periods
- mixed-classes grouped according to Montessori’s model of human development (typically birth to three years, three to six, six to nine, nine to twelve, and adolescence)
Well-implemented Montessori education is associated with improved literacy, numeracy and high-school graduation rates, as well as strengthening executive function, social problem-solving, and general student satisfaction with school.