The concepts of the Montessori approach to education are elegant in their simplicity, yet based on sophisticated understandings of the relationship between human development, learning, and environment. After studying children in a variety of countries and from a number of different cultures and backgrounds, Dr. Montessori came to the conclusion that the human mind is constructed to organize and learn from the environment. Based on this recognition, she developed a prepared environment carefully designed to support the young child’s “absorbent mind” and to assist their complete development.

- Association Montessori International/USA

These key principles contribute to the success of Montessori education:

  • Movement and learning are closely connected; movement enhances learning.
  • Placing children in mixed age groups, corresponding to planes of development, allows them to relate to children who are both older and younger.
  • Observation of the child reveals the proper timing for presentation of new information and experiences.
  • Attending to sensitive periods of development guides the choice of classroom activities in which a child will be engaged.
  • The classroom experience should build on the desire of the young child to master his or her environment.
  • The use of self-correcting materials allows children to manipulate and explore at their own pace.

- Association Montessori International/USA

Montessori vs. Mainstream

An Educational Comparison

Montessori Mainstream
Based on helping the natural development of the human being. Based on the transfer of a national curriculum.
Children learn at their own pace and follow their own individual interests. Children learn from a set curriculum according to a time frame that is the same for everyone.
Children teach themselves using materials specially prepared for that purpose. Children are taught by the teacher.
Understanding comes through the child’s own experiences via the materials and the promotion of children’s ability to nd things out for themselves. Learning is based on subjects and is limited to what is given.
Learning is based on the fact that physical exploration and cognition are linked. Children sit at desks and learn from a whiteboard and worksheets.
The teacher works in collaboration with the children. The class is teacher led.
The child’s individual development brings its own reward and therefore motivation. Motivation is achieved by a system of rewards and punishments.
Uninterrupted work cycles. Block time, period lessons.
Multi-age classrooms. Single-graded classrooms.
Working and learning matched to the social development of the child. Working and learning without emphasis on social development.

- Association Montessori International/USA