What is Montessori?

The Montessori pedagogy, or educational system, is the world’s only scientifically developed pedagogy. It’s also the most widely delivered education system in the world.

The philosophy has two core tenets: every child is treated as an individual, and their education encompasses every aspect of their development.

While developed by Dr Maria Montessori in the early 1900s, the Montessori philosophy – with its focus on nurturing independence, innovation and a love of learning – is more relevant in today’s fast-moving world than ever.

The Montessori Difference

Choosing a Montessori education for your child means that you are choosing a scientific method of teaching that focuses on the child, not the teacher; where children learn about themselves through self-correcting; and where ‘work’ is a purposeful, self-chosen activity.

Here are the key differences between a Montessori environment and traditional education:

One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.”

– Dr Maria Montessori

Dr Maria Montessori

Born in Italy in 1870, Maria Montessori was one of the first women to attend medical school in Italy, and she qualified as a doctor from the University of Rome at the age of 26.

Soon after, Dr Montessori began practising medicine and, through her work with children, she developed an avid interest in education.

She opened her first education institution for children, Casa dei Bambini, in 1907 and published two seminal books – The Montessori Method (1909) and The Advanced Montessori Method (1917) – before establishing the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) in 1929.

Her aim: “Spreading of knowledge of how the children, immature and struggling to develop their own powers, may be assisted in the self-realisation of reaching their full perfection of growth.” And today, there are over 22,000 Montessori schools in the world that are determined to pursue her work, with around 300 just in Australia.

For her committed efforts on behalf of children, especially in the face of fascism during World War II, Dr Montessori was nominated three times for a Nobel Peace Prize (1949, 1950 and 1951).

It is not true that I invented what is called the Montessori Method… I have studied the child; I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it, and that is what is called the Montessori Method.”

– Dr Maria Montessori

Montessori Education: The Science

The Montessori pedagogy is founded on a scientific understanding of childhood and the development of the body and mind. Through her observations of children, Dr Montessori concluded that a child must be free to develop according to the natural laws of development, with no rewards or punishments, as well as no competition.

Dr Maria Montessori was a pioneering scientist and educator, and she based her approach on the development of the whole human being. Her work has been studied and developed for many years and is successfully evidenced today in neuroscience and research into the executive functioning skills of children and adults.

We discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being.”

– Dr Maria Montessori

Intro to Montessori

If you’re new to the Montessori method or if there are aspects of the pedagogy that you’d like to unpack, check out this video where our Principal gives a basic overview of some Montessori concepts.

The Four Planes of Development

Through scientific research, Montessori based her educational philosophy on the idea that children develop through a series of four planes, from birth to maturity. Each plane has a variety of characteristics that are typical for children at that stage. Studying and understanding these stages enables us to understand our interactions with children with a new perspective.

The Montessori method, therefore, focuses on guiding each child, through positive experiences in a prepared environment, to independence in all spheres of development: physical, intellectual, social/emotional, and moral. And so, in a Montessori environment that meets the natural developmental needs of children, each child achieves self-mastery and self-discipline.

Education is a work of self-organisation by which [humans] adapt [themselves] to the conditions of life.”

– Dr Maria Montessori

Montessori Environments: Prepared and Collegial

Montessori education is a natural process defined by positive experiences in a prepared environment where:

  • children work at their own pace according to their own interests
  • each child is guided by the assistance of a director
  • there are no rewards or punishments
  • there is no competition
  • ‘work’ is a purposeful self-chosen activity

Research consistently shows that brain development and learning — ultimately, academic success — are optimised in an environment where children are free to choose work that:

  • engages their interest and effort
  • provides some pleasure and some challenges

As such, our lessons are given after careful observation of each child’s interests and ability level and are finely tuned to meet their need for meaningful and interesting effort.

The task of the educator lies in seeing that the child does not confound good with immobility and evil with activity.”

– Dr Maria Montessori

Montessori Materials

Over four decades, Dr Montessori designed and constructed new materials, which is the name she used to describe the educational objects used in the classrooms, with each being particular to different subject areas (e.g., art, music, mathematics, language, science, etc). Montessori materials (also called jobs or work) offer students a great advantage: they are self-correcting, meaning that if a child makes a mistake, it will be evident to the child and they will then be able to try again – hereby reinforcing the importance of repetition.

Want to find out more about the Montessori philosophy?

For those eager to delve deeper into the Montessori Method, we recommend these enlightening books:

  • The Absorbent Mind, Dr Maria Montessori
  • The Discovery of the Child, Dr Maria Montessori
  • The Secret of Childhood, Dr Maria Montessori
  • From Childhood to Adolescence, by Dr Maria Montessori
  • Montessori: A Modern Approach, Paula Polk Lillard
  • Maria Montessori: A Biography, Rita Kramer
  • Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, Angeline Lillard

These are Montessori resources you can access online:

Montessori Association Internationale

Dr Maria Montessori founded The Montessori Association International in 1929 and, today, the organisation is dedicated to empowering teachers and communities through the educational approach of Maria Montessori adapting it across continents and cultures to help children develop their true potential and make a difference in the world.

Montessori Australia

Montessori Australia maintains communication with all Montessori programmes across Australia and acts as a clearinghouse for Montessori information and communication.

Montessori Institute

The Montessori Institute delivers courses that nationally accredited, AITSL (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership) and ACECQA (Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority) recognised Montessori training courses, as well as provides professional support and information pertaining to the Montessori approach through partnerships with schools, childcare centres and the wider community.

Also, check out this cool video about Montessori education.

Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future… Let us treat them with all the kindness which we would wish to help to develop in them.”

– Dr Maria Montessori



Learn more about our school.

Read about our school in Kingsley for children from the age of 3 to 18