Montessori schools use an educational approach based on the research and experiences of physician and educator Maria Montessori. Dr. Montessori's method was created from her observation of young children given freedom in an environment prepared with materials designed for self-directed learning activity.
Montessori schools primarily serve young children (ages 2 to 6) but occasionally also serve elementary age children (ages 6 to 12).
While individual schools differ in their interpretation, practical application, and philosophy of the method, the following are key principles of Montessori education:
- Movement and learning are closely connected; movement enhances learning;
- Placing children in mixed age groups, corresponding to planes of development helps them relate to children who are both older and younger;
- Observation of the child helps reveal the proper timing of the presenting of new information and experiences;
- Attending to sensitive periods of development helps to guide the choice of classroom activity 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; and
- The use of self-correcting materials allows children to manipulate and explore at their own pace.