In 1896, Maria Montessori became the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome School of Medicine. She was a student of biology, psychiatry, anthropology as well as medicine and, in 1907, opened an inner city school in Rome for young children. It was here that she, as a physician, began her scientific observations of children.
Over the course of many years, she developed a learning environment which supported these observed developmental needs of children. She discovered these needs were common to all the children she observed no matter what their culture or race.
It was this patient, scientific ability to observe and then draw conclusions that led to the development of this unique “Montessori” approach to the education of children.
In these non competitive environments, children learn at their own pace and the materials are specifically designed to support their natural development. As a result, the materials are very attractive to each child. The teacher is fully trained in child development, observes the interest of the child in a material, and proceeds to give a lesson so that the child’s interest is satisfied and true learning takes place.
Each classroom becomes a small community of 2 ½ through 6 ½ year old children with one teacher and one assistant to the teacher. The younger children come to the classroom Monday through Friday from 8:30 until 12:00. The more mature children come to the classroom from 8:30 until 2:45, Monday through Friday. Each child stays with the same teacher in the same classroom for 3 to 4 years insuring continuity of learning, strong and secure relationships with the teacher as well as the other students, and a sense of belonging so vital at this age. The mixed age groups provide the children with opportunities to practice leadership, patience, community living, and motivation within the group.