Montessori education is a system for the education of children from birth through age 18. It is based upon the principles developed by Dr. Maria Montessori through her observations of children throughout her life.
The focus of this system is the development of materials, educational techniques, and observations that support the natural development of children. The teacher in a Montessori classroom serves less as an “instructor” and more as a guide and facilitator. Children are encouraged to “learn how to learn,” thus gaining independence and self-confidence. Because the method is based upon developmentally appropriate activities, the child often learns through the process of education by doing.
The Montessori school is designed to accommodate various stages of development in children that occur in roughly 3 year cycles: birth to three years of age, three to six years of age, six to nine years of age, and nine to twelve years of age. By spending three years in an environment, it allows greater flexibility in meeting each child’s individual needs, while enduring fewer social transitions. The environment becomes the “teacher” with the child as the initiator of his/her own education. The multi-age classroom also creates a community in which children of different ages cooperate instead of compete with each other. This leads to feelings of respect for each other and a productive work environment.
A wonderful resource is Montessori A Modern Approach by Paula Polk Lillard available wherever books are sold.