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The Montessori Learning Environment

Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) is one of the most honored and respected educators of our time. She was born and raised in Italy and her teachings have had an impact worldwide. She was extremely educated and conquered many obstacles while studying engineering, anthropology, philosophy, psychiatry, and psychology, all in a time when society did not make these accomplishments easy for women. She also studied medicine and attended, with much persuasion, an all-male medical school in Italy. She became the first woman in Italian history to become a physician.  At this point she dedicated herself to education and worked with children deemed as “not normal” members of society. Her years of dedication and determination led her to challenge established methods, which brought her and her students tremendous success. She then “became convinced that similar methods applied to normal children would develop or set free their personality in a marvelous and surprising way.” (Maria Montessori) The results were remarkable and were the foundation for the continued success of Montessori schools in more than one hundred countries around the world. Maria Montessori’s ideas have changed the way we educate children; she revolutionized early childhood education by advocating that children be allowed the freedom to explore and develop their own creative potential through self-teaching educational material are still used in Montessori classrooms today.

Montessori Method

The philosophical works and observations of Dr. Maria Montessori, which have proven successful historically and cross-culturally, are the foundation and guide for learning at The Montessori Academy of the Upper Keys. The Montessori curriculum is designed around these sensitive periods of development that each child passes through; enhancing exposure to all areas of education at specific times. The goal is to allow a child to build positive self-esteem and a high level of confidence; to support the development of the child to become independent and self-directed learners.  

The Montessori classroom incorporates three elements essential for maximum learning.

  1. The classroom environment, well prepared and in a progressing manner, stimulates the child to question and every action furthers his/her enthusiasm to learn in the following integrated areas: practical life, sensorial, math, music, art, language and culture.
  2. All materials and classroom activities guide the student toward success in any interest. Children learn naturally when they are interested and want to learn.
  3. Our highly structured programs allows every child the freedom to learn via all five senses and at the same time to develop their own self-interest. Once a child  masters a given task, that task becomes an area of accomplishment and encourages the student to move on to another interest.

As our teachers observe and evaluate the progress of each child’s activity, preparation and planning begins for the child’s next challenge, while maintaining the standards of classroom etiquette.   

With this solid foundation, the child is then ready to move on to the next plane of development, six to twelve years of age. Elementary-aged children have the ability to reason, which is unsurpassed at any age. The combined power of their reasoning intellect and boundless imagination are so potent that virtually any concept or system no matter how abstract can be presented in such a way that they can begin integrating knowledge of the universe from all directions through all disciplines.

Why Choose Montessori?

The Montessori hands-on approach to learning encourages children to develop their observation skills through activities that use the five senses, kinetic movement, spatial refinement, small and gross motor skill coordination, and concrete knowledge that leads to later abstraction. Montessori’s unique materials are attractive, tactile and concrete. Montessori lessons weave together subjects like math, science, history, and literature to give the child the “whole” learning concept and the ability to see how the parts of the whole are interconnected.

Dr. Maria Montessori created a system that addresses the development of the whole child and is rooted in the belief that all children possess an intellectual and creative potential, a drive to learn and the ability to be self-directed. In a carefully prepared classroom environment, children are grouped together in age spans of three years,  consistent with developmental milestones. This environment fosters a community of enthusiastic learners who nurture and support each other as they learn to respect each other’s individual strengths.
Children choose and progress through the lessons at their own pace, allowing each child to work at his appropriate level in each subject—while striving to reach his own potential. Since children choose their own lessons, they are responsible for their own education thereby fostering individual self-discipline. Teachers assist this development with age-appropriate methods including lesson planning and gentle suggestions and guidance. The multi-age classrooms and individualized learning decrease academic competition. Student cooperation is encouraged and supported in Montessori classrooms.