Forest Hill International School Montessori Daycare & Preschool Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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What is Montessori and Why is it so Good for Children?

First, who was Maria Montessori?

Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator, and innovator, acclaimed for her educational method that builds on the way children naturally learn.

She opened the first Montessori school—the Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House—in a poor inner-city district in Rome on January 6, 1907.  This became the first quality learning environment for young children.   The youngsters were unruly at first, but soon showed great interest in working with puzzles, learning to prepare meals, and manipulating materials that held lessons in math. She observed how they absorbed knowledge from their surroundings, essentially teaching themselves.

Utilizing scientific observation and experience gained from her earlier work with young children, Maria designed learning materials and a classroom environment that fostered the children’s natural desire to learn. News of the school’s success soon spread through Italy and by 1910 Montessori schools were acclaimed worldwide. Maria Montessori continued to teach and travel throughout the world even into her 80’s.  There are now more than 22,000 Montessori schools in at least 110 countries worldwide.

What is the Montessori Method?

“It is not true,” says Dr. Montessori, “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.”

Education is not something which the teacher does, instead it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the child and adult.  It is not acquired by listening to words, but through experiences in which the child acts on in his environment.

The Montessori Method prepares an environment made for encouraging each child’s natural gifts to develop.  For children under the age of 3, there is no need to have lessons in order to learn as they simply absorb everything in the environment by experiencing it and being part of it.  This highlights the importance of preparing the environment as good, positive, safe and comforting – this is what the children will absorb.  Children 3 years and older are able to acquire a great number of concepts through their own activity with their learning environment.

“To teach details is to bring confusion; to establish the relationship between things is to bring knowledge.”  Maria Montessori

Benefits of Montessori

Montessori education offers our children opportunities to develop their potential as they step out into the world as engaged, competent, responsible, and respectful citizens with an understanding and appreciation that learning is for life.

  • Each child is valued as a unique individual. Montessori education recognizes that children learn in different ways, and accommodates all learning styles. Students are also free to learn at their own pace, each advancing through the curriculum as he is ready, guided by the teacher and an individualized learning plan.
  • Beginning at an early age, Montessori students develop order, coordination, concentration, and independence. Classroom design, materials, and daily routines support the individual’s emerging “self-regulation” (ability to educate one’s self, and to think about what one is learning), toddlers through adolescents.
  • Students are part of a close, caring community. The multi-age classroom—typically spanning 3 years—re-creates a family structure. Older students enjoy stature as mentors and role models; younger children feel supported and gain confidence about the challenges ahead. Teachers model respect, loving kindness, and a belief in peaceful conflict resolution.
  • Montessori students enjoy freedom within limits. Working within parameters set by their teachers, students are active participants in deciding what their focus of learning will be. Montessorians understand that internal satisfaction drives the child’s curiosity and interest and results in joyous learning that is sustainable over a lifetime.
  • Students are supported in becoming active seekers of knowledge. Teachers provide environments where students have the freedom and the tools to pursue answers to their own questions.
  • Self-correction and self-assessment are an integral part of the Montessori classroom approach.  As they mature, students learn to look critically at their work, and become adept at recognizing, correcting, and learning from their errors.

Given the freedom and support to question, to probe deeply, and to make connections, Montessori students become confident, enthusiastic, self-directed learners. They are able to think critically, work collaboratively, and act boldly—a skill set for the 21st century. 

Montessori Children Score Well On Standardized (International) Tests

Montessori children are ranked well above average in these important life skills: 

  • Listening attentively
  • Following directions
  • Completing work on time
  • Showing responsibility
  • Asking ‘thinking’ questions
  • Using basic skills
  • Showing enthusiasm for learning
  • Adapting well to new situations

The Success of Montessori Education:

Most forms of education have produced famous graduates, but most of these graduates are in a certain field.  For example graduates from the prestigious Waldorf schools are usually in the arts, prep school graduates often go into business, law and politics.  Montessori graduates are different because they are able to go in many different areas; computer, engineering, literature, art, medicine, politics, acting and more.

Montessori Education does exactly what it sets out to do, it doesn’t force children into a mold, it doesn’t work for just one type of child, instead when done correctly, Montessori Education helps each child reach their full potential, whether that potential is in art, science, literature, computers, music, performance.

What Some Of The Successful Adults Who Were Montessori Students Say About Montessori Education: 

  • Google Founders:  Larry Page and Sergey Brin "I think it was part of that training of not following rules and orders, and being self motivated, questioning what's going on in the world and doing things a little bit differently," says Page, who's now CEO of Google. 
  • Julia Child (famous author and cook)  Says, Montessori learning taught her to love working with her hands. 
  • Will Wright (invented video games – SimCity, Sims, Spore) “Montessori taught me the joy of discovery, It showed you can become interested in pretty complex theories, like Pythagorean theory, say, by playing with blocks. It’s all about learning on your terms, rather than a teacher explaining stuff to you. SimCity comes right out of Montessori."
  • Jimmy Wales (creator of Wikipedia) As a child, Wales was a keen reader with an acute intellectual curiosity and, in what he credits to the influence of the Montessori method on the school’s philosophy of education, “spent lots of hours pouring over the Britannica and World Book Encyclopedias."
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez – famous Columbian author and Nobel Peace Prize winner. “I do not believe there is a method better than Montessori for making children sensitive to the beauties of the world and awakening their curiosity regarding the secrets of life.”

Other Famous Montessori Students:

  • Jeff Bezos – CEO of Amazon
  • Anne Frank (famous diarist from World War 2 – author of the Diaries of Anne Frank)
  • Alexander Graham Bell (invented the practical telephone) helped create the first Montessori schools in Canada.
  • Thomas Edison (invented the incandescent light bulb) started four Montessori schools in the US.
  • Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (wife of former President Kennedy)
  • Prince William and Prince Harry (family of the Queen of England)
  • Katherine Graham (owned the newspaper Washington Post)
  • Peter Drucker (the father of modern management)
  • Joshua Bell (famous violinist)
  • David Blaine (famous magician) David was a four year old Montessori student when he fell in love with magic.  Now he is called the “Modern Day Houdini”
  • T Berry Brazelton (famous Pediatrician, child psychiatrist, author and harvard medical school professor emeritus) 
  • Erik Erikson (famous Psychologist – 8 stages of Man) Studied Montessori training as an adult because it was so important.
  • Helen Keller – famous author and activist (deaf and blind)
  • Beyonce Knowles – famous singer, song writer and actress
  • HM Queen Noor of Jordan – humanitarian activist and wife of the late King Hussein of Jordan
  • Devi Sridhar – youngest ever American Rhodes scholar (in 100 years)
  • Dakota Fanning (famous actress)
  • Taylor Swift (famous singer and songwriter)
  • HRH Prince William and Prince Henry (United Kingdom)