Montessori Approach

Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator, and innovator, acclaimed for her educational method that builds on the way children learn naturally.

She opened the first Montessori school—the Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House—in Rome on January 6, 1907. Subsequently, she travelled the world and wrote extensively about her approach to education, attracting many devotees. There are now thousands of Montessori schools in countries worldwide

Maria’s early medical practice focused on psychiatry. She later developed an interest in education, attending classes on pedagogy and immersing herself in educational theory. Her studies led her to observe, and call into question, the prevailing methods of teaching children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The opportunity to improve on these methods came in 1900, when she was appointed co-director of a new training institute for special education teachers. Maria approached the task scientifically, carefully observing and experimenting to learn which teaching methods worked best. Many of the children made unexpected gains, and the program was proclaimed a success.

About Montessori approach

Montessori education aims to provide children and young people, from birth to maturity, with learning environments designed to support the development of social, intellectual, and ethical independence. For this reason, Montessori education is often described as ‘education for life’. The foundation principle of the Montessori approach is that children learn best when they learn through their own freely chosen activity. The Montessori method of education, named after its founder Maria Montessori, is an approach to classroom learning that emphasizes independence and choice. This theory of teaching understands that children have an innate interest to learn and will be able to do so in a suitable environment. It strives to create a classroom that is filled with order, cleanliness, beauty, and harmony

The Prepared Environment

The essential components of a Montessori learning environment are:

  • infants, children or young people
  • trained adults
  • physical surroundings, including the specially designed Montessori educational material.

Montessori learning environments are prepared to nurture children’s natural tendency to work and their love of learning. They provide opportunities for children to engage in spontaneous, purposeful activities under the guidance of a trained adult. The design of a Montessori learning environment has four dimensions.

  • The physical environment is characterised by furniture and implements, matched to the size and strength of the children, and by distinctive educational materials designed to precise specifications and matched to developmental stage.
  • The social environment comprises a multi-age peer group, a trained teacher and trained teaching assistants as required. This dimension of the environment is designed so infants, children and young people can develop both as individuals and as social beings. It includes real-life activities that link them in meaningful ways to their home, community, and culture, as well as activities that develop a concept of their place in the world and the wider Universe.
  • The time environment is designed to give children the time they need to develop. Wherever possible the school day is made up of unbroken three-hour work periods, so, children can follow their interests and to achieve their learning goals without being interrupted.
  • The emotional environment is prepared so children always feel safe, secure and confident enough to follow their interests and to engage in deep concentration.

Montessori Material

“Nothing goes into the mind that does not first go through the hands.”
Dr. Maria Montessori

The Montessori materials, embody the learning curriculum and are designed to stimulate the child into logical thought and independent discovery. The Montessori teacher shows the child how to use the materials independently and the child engages with them, at their own pace and in accordance with their own needs and interests. In this way, the child experiences the learning curriculum in a highly personalised format.

The Montessori materials are provocative, enticing, and simple to use. However, beneath the beauty and simplicity, lies a deep intentionality. The Montessori materials in any given classroom, provide for sufficient independent learning and discovery to span three years of any individual child’s development.

The materials are each designed to meet one or more specific needs in the child, and every piece of material has been developed in the context of all the other materials. They are offered to the child in a sequence which promotes the gradual layering of learning and understanding. In addition, not only do the materials relate to all others in the classroom, but they also refer to the materials which the child has worked with an earlier classroom, and as well as referring to the materials they will see in the next Montessori classroom, when they are older.

Each piece of material has what is known as a “control of error”. If the child has done something incorrectly it will be self-evident. The geometric shape, for example, won’t fit the hole; the water will spill on the table or the last label will not match the last picture. Being able to see his or her own mistake allows the child to work independently

Four areas of Montessori

Practical Life, Sensorial, Language and Mathematics. Considerable emphasis is also placed on Creative Arts, Music, Science, Geography and Cultural Studies.

Practical life: – The Practical Life component of the Montessori approach is the link between the child’s home environment and the classroom. The child’s desire to seek order and independence finds expression through the use of a variety of materials and activities which support the development of fine motor as well as other learning skills needed to advance to the more complex Montessori equipment. The practical life materials involve the children in precise movements which challenge them to concentrate, to work at their own pace uninterrupted, and to complete a cycle of work which typically results in the feelings of satisfaction and confidence. Practical life encompasses four main areas: Control of Movement, Care of Person, Care of Environment, and Grace and Courtesy.

Sensorial: From an early age child are developing a sense of order and they actively seek to sort, arrange, and classify their many experiences. The sensorial materials give the child experience initially in perceiving distinctions between similar and different things. Each piece of equipment is generally a set of objects which isolate a fundamental quality perceived through the senses such as color, form, dimension, texture, temperature, volume, pitch, weight and taste. Precise language such as loud/soft, long/short, rough/smooth, circle, square, cube and so on is then attached to these sensorial experiences to make the world even more meaningful to the child.

Language: Maria Montessori did not believe that reading, writing, spelling and language should be taught as separate entities. Pre-primary children are immersed in the dynamics of their own language development and the Montessori approach provides a carefully thought-out program to facilitate this process. Oral language acquired since birth is further elaborated and refined through a variety of activities such as songs, games, poems, stories and classified language cards.

Mathematics: Mathematics is a way of looking at the world, a language for understanding and expressing measurable relationships inherent in our experience. A child is led to abstract ideas and relationships by dealing with the concrete. The child’s mind has already been awakened to mathematical ideas through the sensorial experiences. The child has seen the distinctions of distance, dimension, graduation, identity, similarity, and sequence and will now be introduced to the functions and operations of numbers. Geometry, algebra and arithmetic are connected in the Montessori method as they are in life. For instance, the golden bead material highlights the numerical, geometrical and dimensional relationships within the decimal system. Through concrete material the child learns to add, subtract, multiply and divide and gradually comes to understand many abstract mathematical concepts with ease and joy.

Difference between Montessori and traditional day care


Tradition day care

·        Scientific way of teaching ·        Non-scientific way
·        Sense of order- specific places for everything ·        Random placement
·        Same place in same order – Consistency ·
·        Self-education through self-correcting material- control of error ·        Use of reward and punishment in motivation
·        Multi-sensory materials to develop specific skills ·        Play material for non-specific skills
·        Mixed age group ·        Single age group
·        Child chooses their work ·        Teacher assign work
·        Older children guide the younger ones ·        Not possible
·        Lessons individualized to students need ·        Group lessons
·        Inquiry based learning ·        Standard based learning
·        Cognitive social, emotional, and moral development emphasis ·        Social development emphasis

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