The Montessori philosophy is an educational philosophy for children, based on theories of child development developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator. The first Montessori classroom was established in the early 20th century, and the ideas, based on scientific observation, are still completely valid today, over a hundred years later.
The Montessori method is characterized by an emphasis on self-directed activity on the part of the child, and observation on the part of the teacher (often called a director, directress, or guide). The Montessori philosophy stresses the importance of adapting the child's learning environment to his or her developmental level, and of the role of physical activity in absorbing abstract concepts and practical skills. It is also characterized by the use of self-correcting materials for the introduction and learning of various concepts.
"From the moment the child enters the classroom, each step in his education is seen as a progressive building block, ultimately forming the whole person, in the emergence from childhood to adult. All focus is on the needs of the child."
-The Essential Montessori: An Introduction to the Woman, the Writings, the Method, and the Movement, Elizabeth G. Hainstock, 1997
One distinguishing feature of Montessori education at the preschool age is that children direct their own learning, choosing among the sections of a well structured and stocked classroom, including Practical Life (fine and gross motor skills), Sensorial (senses and brain), Language, Mathematics, and Science and Culture (world studies.) The role of a directress is to introduce children to materials and then remain a quiet presence in the classroom. Children are free to choose from materials they have been shown, and when they have mastered the concept, they are introduced to new activities of increasing challenge. As the children grow and develop, the materials increase in complexity on into the Lower and Upper Elementary programs for ages 6 to 9, and 9 to 12.
The Montessori philosophy is built upon the idea that children develop and think differently from adults; that they are not merely "adults in small bodies". Dr. Montessori advocated children’s rights, children working to develop themselves into adults, and that these developments would lead to world peace.
At Tall Pines School, the Montessori programs begin at age 12 months in the Infant class. Children continue through the Toddler class (18 to 30 months), the Prima Casa class (age 31 to 44 months), and then join the Casa class (ages 4 and 5 years). The elementary years begin with Lower Elementary (ages 6 to 9), and conclude with Upper Elementary (ages 9 to 12 years). Students may continue to complete their elementary years to the end of Grade 8 in The Zone, our innovative program for 21st Century learning.
Our Montessori classrooms are superbly equipped with state of the art materials for learning. Bright and cheerful classrooms with materials that are, frankly, magnetic to children, provide the perfect start to developing a passion for learning which persists for life.