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  What is Montessori?

Imagine observing a classroom where the students are actively engaged in their work, purposefully moving about the room, quietly speaking with their teachers and peers and independently cleaning up after themselves. This is what you will see if you visit a Montessori classroom. People new to Montessori often wonder in amazement, "How is this possible?" The answer lies within the Montessori Method.

The Montessori Method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy's first female physician, in the late 1800s. Through her keen observations, Dr. Montessori developed a method of education based on the developmental needs of children.

Montessori education offers a unique experience designed to help your child maximize her potential; an educational environment that is purposefully designed to meet her unique developmental needs and adults who are specifically trained to observe and put her in touch with exactly what she needs at that very moment to learn.

A school is a group of people who come together with a common purpose; education is the experience that your child has with these people. At Munchkins, we work diligently to provide a positive and formative experience that will serve her now and for the rest of her life.

The conventional educational system was designed during the industrial revolution, when the masses moved into urban areas to work in factories.

They created an effective method of training the following generations of factory workers. Children were instructed to memorize and regurgitate facts – to stop working when the bell rings – to sit in nice, neat rows of desks and ask for permission to move. It is no longer relevant in our modern culture.

Today, successful people work on projects not factory lines. They are rewarded for creating things rather than following orders. And, they are expected to adapt quickly to change within their profession, rather than working at the same job for 50 years. As we peek into the uncertain future of the 21st century, certified Montessori programs offer a safe harbor for parents: a research-based method that has been proven to develop some of the brightest minds of our times and is well positioned to develop the movers and shakers of tomorrow.

But what is Montessori?

At its core, it simply is a way of being with children that allows each child to develop fully into the person he was destined to be. Just as you make every effort to ensure that your home is loving and safe - so that your child feels secure and well adjusted - we work diligently to ensure that the physical environment, the teachers and the student community will meet your child's needs with respect and support at each step in his educational journey.

Instead of expecting that he pay attention to the teacher in front of a class of 30 children, it is the Montessori teacher who pays close attention to your child which fosters a trusting relationship - an education partnership of sorts - in which he will have faith that his teacher truly understands and respects him for the human being into which he is transforming.

Our world doesn't need more test takers, memorizers or followers. Now, more than ever, we need critical thinkers, entrepreneurs and do-ers. Montessori education prepares children to take on the future with confidence and zeal, propelled by the gift of self-knowledge and a lifelong passion for learning.

This is education for our rapidly changing world.
This is education for the future.
This is education for life.

Montessori FAQ

What is the difference between Montessori and traditional education?
Why does Montessori have multi age classrooms?
Is Montessori good for children with learning disabilities?
Are Montessori children successful later in life?
Are Montessori schools religious?
Is Montessori a franchise? Who can open a Montessori school?
Who accredits Montessori schools?
Isn’t Montessori just a preschool?
If children are free to choose their own work, how do you ensure that they receive a well-rounded education?
Montessori classrooms don’t look like regular classrooms. Where are the rows of desks? Where does the teacher stand?
Are Montessori schools as academically rigorous as traditional schools?
Since Montessori classrooms emphasize non-competitiveness, how are students adequately prepared for real-life competition later on?

What is the difference between Montessori and traditional education?
For children six and under, Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. They are not required to sit and listen to a teacher talk to them as a group, but are engaged in individual or group activities of their own, with materials that have been introduced to them 1:1 by the teacher who knows what each child is ready to do. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning.

Why does Montessori have multi age classrooms?
Multi age classrooms afford us the luxury of adapting the curriculum to the individual child. Each child can work at his or her own pace, while remaining in community with his or her peers. In addition, the multi age format allows all older children to be the leaders of the classroom community-even those children who may be shy or quiet.

Is Montessori good for children with learning disabilities?
What about gifted children? Montessori is designed to help all children reach their fullest potential at their own unique pace. A classroom whose children have varying abilities is a community in which everyone learns from one another and everyone contributes. Moreover, multi age grouping allows each child to find his or her own pace without feeling "ahead" or "behind" in relation to peers.

Are Montessori children successful later in life?
Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations. (

Are Montessori schools religious?
No. Montessori educates children without reference to religious denomination. As a result, our classrooms are extremely diverse, with representation from all peoples, cultures and religions.

Is Montessori a franchise? Who can open a Montessori school?
The term Montessori is not trademarked and anyone, regardless of training, experience or affiliation can open a “Montessori” school. It is essential that parents researching Montessori act as good consumers to ensure the authenticity of their chosen program.

Who accredits Montessori schools?
The Indian Montessori Centre has begun providing recognition to Montessori Houses of Children, which truly follow Montessori principles to guide children. Parents can be sure about the authenticity of Montessori Houses of Children recognised by the Indian Montessori Centre. They can be secure that these Montessori Houses of Children are run on the lines envisaged by Dr. Maria Montessori.

Isn't Montessori just a preschool?
Montessori schools may be best known for their programs with young children, but the underlying educational method describes programs for students up through high school.

If children are free to choose their own work, how do you ensure that they receive a well-rounded education?
Montessori children are free to choose within limits, and have only as much freedom as they can handle with appropriate responsibility. The classroom teacher and assistant ensure that children do not interfere with each other, and that each child is progressing at her appropriate pace in all subjects.

Montessori classrooms don’t look like regular classrooms. Where are the rows of desks? Where does the teacher stand?
The different arrangement of a Montessori classroom mirrors the Montessori methods differences from traditional education. Rather than putting the teacher at the focal point of the class, with children dependent on her for information and activity, the classroom shows a literally child-centered approach. Children work at tables or on floor mats where they can spread out their materials, and the teacher circulates about the room, giving lessons or resolving issues as they arise.

Are Montessori schools as academically rigorous as traditional schools?
Yes; Montessori classrooms encourage deep learning of the concepts behind academic skills rather than rote practice of abstract techniques. The success of our students appears in the experiences of our alumni, who compete successfully with traditionally educated students in a variety of high schools and universities.

Since Montessori classrooms emphasize non-competitiveness, how are students adequately prepared for real-life competition later on?
Montessori classrooms emphasize competition with oneself: self-monitoring, self-correction, and a variety of other executive skills aimed at continuous improvement. Students typically become comfortable with their strengths and learn how to address their weaknesses. In older classes, students commonly participate in competitive activities with clear "winners" (auditions for limited opera roles, the annual spelling bee, etc.) in which students give their best performances while simultaneously encouraging peers to do the same. It is a healthy competition in which all contenders are content that they did their best in an environment with clear and consistent rules.

The Montessori Method

The Montessori method is an approach to educating children based on the research, observations, and experiences of Italian physician and educator Dr. Maria Montessori.

The Montessori method began with the first "Casa de Bambini" (or children’s house) in 1907. This arose from Dr. Montessori’s discovery of what she referred to as "the child’s true normal nature". In the Casa, she observed young children given freedom in an environment prepared with materials designed for their self-directed learning activity.

Applying this method involves the teacher in viewing the child as having an inner natural guidance for his or her own perfect self-directed development. The role of the teacher (sometimes called director, directress, or guide) is therefore to watch over the environment to remove any obstacles that would interfere with this natural development. The teacher's role of observation sometimes includes experimental interactions with children, commonly referred to as "lessons", to show how to use the various self-teaching materials that are provided in the environment for the children's free use.

Through observation and experience, Montessori came to believe all children have an inherent love of learning and joy in discovery. These innate tendencies are given direction by the hands-on materials and teacher. As a result, children develop knowledge, concentration, motivation, persistence, and discipline. All work is done at the pace of the individual child.

The key elements in a Montessori education include:

Your Child
  • Montessori provides a child-centered learning environment where children are seen as individuals who are growing and developing at their own pace.
  • Children have natural curiosities and desires to learn. Montessori faculty nurture this love of learning!
  • Children, between 0 to 6 years, are sensorial learners who absorb the world around them through their six senses. The environment and lessons are designed with the child’s intellectual, social, emotional, and moral development in mind.

The Prepared Environment
  • Specifically designed materials allow children to learn for themselves.
  • The indoor and outdoor classrooms are beautiful, and allow for freedom of movement.
  • Three-year cycles allow students to take on many different roles within the multi-age class; both follower and leader. They become cooperative learners who understand how to work effectively within a group. The three-year cycle provides stability and fosters a deep bond between child, director, and class.

The Teacher
  • The Montessori teacher is a highly trained professional who focuses on the 'whole child' through observation, preparation of the environment, and delivery of key lessons.
  • The teacher is a facilitator of a child’s learning; careful not to get in the way of children learning and discovering for themselves.

Peace Education
  • Montessori held the belief that education is the most powerful and effective way to transform society.
  • Children are taught to respect themselves and others as individuals with different views and perspectives.
  • Children are taught to be stewards of the environment.

Recommended Reading

Information about the Montessori method is extensive. Munchkins maintains a library for parents and others interested in learning more, but there are online resources available as well. Read more

Certified Montessori Programs

There is a big difference between being "trained" and "certified". There also is a big difference between certifications.

Certification is a process where you take classes in Montessori philosophy, classroom organization and management, curriculum, and manipulatives. You will be required to write papers, make a manual, which is a compilation of the Montessori Lesson plans, and pass tests.

Training can be deceptive. In theory, it is the course that you take to become a certified Montessori teacher. Sadly, in reality, anything the director of a school calls "training" is training. If you have a good director and your school is a "real" Montessori school your training will be a course that leads to certification, but if you are at a school that is not a "true" Montessori school your "training" might just be a meeting where you learn the ins and outs of a school, or where you read a little bit about Montessori philosophy. Just because you are "trained" doesn't mean that you are "certified".

If you are serious about becoming a Montessori Teacher you NEED to be Certified by a credible Montessori training Center.

Montessori Certifications and Training Centers
AMI (Association Montessori Internationale)
AMS (American Montessori Society)
IMC (Indian Montessori Centre)
MACTE (Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education)

Recommended Reading

Books by Dr. Maria Montessori

Montessori Method
The Secret of Childhood
The Absorbent Mind
To Education the Human Potential
The Child in the Family
From Childhood to Adolescence
Education for a New World
Education and Peace
The discovery of the Child
The Formation of Man
What you should know about your child
The Advanced Montessori Method - Vol 1 and 2
Reconstruction in Education
The Child
Child in the Church
Creative Development in the child – Part 1 and 2

Publications of the Indian Montessori Centre

Take Montessori Home
Gateways to Montessori Theory
Gateways to Montessori Practicals
Towards Healthy Humanity
Today's Child
Montessori Materials (Tamil/English)
A Year with Maria Montessori
Exercises of Practical Life
Veetukku Veedu (Tamil)

Montessori Education and Methods

Montessori Madness! A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education, Trevor Eissler
Understanding Montessori: A Guide for Parents, Maren Schmidt, M.Ed. with Dana Schmidt
The Essential Montessori, Elizabeth G. Hainstock
Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, Angeline Stoll Lillard
Montessori in the Classroom, Paula Polk Lillard
Montessori from the Start, Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Jessen Lillard
The Schoolhome, Jane Roland Martin
Montessori Today, Paula Lillard

Online Resources

American Montessori Society
Association Montessori Internationale
North American Montessori Teachers Association
Indian Montessori Centre
Dr. Steve Hughes Dr. Steven J. Hughes, PhD, LP, ABPdN is an assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School and an avid proponent of Montessori education.
Michael Olaf--The Montessori Shop
A resource for Montessori materials at school and at home.


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