The Montessori Philosophy
“In addition to maintaining the best instructional practices in reading, writing and math, their program of inspiring kids to be kind, well mannered and cooperative fills my heart.”
At Santa Cruz Montessori School (SCM), your child will benefit from the Montessori method in a setting that offers a large amount of individual attention and a beautiful physical environment. The Montessori approach draws its strengths from principles that Maria Montessori (1870–1952) developed by patient and careful observation of children. Her vision incorporates many insights into child psychology and education that eventually gained wide acceptance in these fields. She proposed that:
- Children possess an inherent desire to learn; they love intellectual work and do it with profound joy when it is spontaneously chosen; they can reach a higher level of scholastic achievement than in traditional classrooms because their teachers recognize and act on these basic aspects of human nature.
- Even young children can approach ambitious, abstract topics through sensorial exploration and directed knowledge acquisition.
- Children can naturally discover what they need to know if they are encouraged to follow their curiosity and receive appropriate support and guidance.
- Each child has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses; honoring strengths and addressing weaknesses allows individuals to pursue their natural talents and interests while widening their skills and options.
- Children learn by doing.
- Children thrive when they are treated with respect.
- A well-organized environment and child-child collaboration promote learning.
- External rewards and punishments dampen long-term motivation and learning; the joy of exploring and exerting effort toward self-chosen goals propels children forward.
- Children reach their full potential only when all aspects of their personalities—including powers of deliberation, initiative, and independent choice—are nurtured
- When children live as members of a social community, they develop qualities that form the basis of good citizenship and a lifelong love of learning.
The SCM Setting
SCM builds upon this foundation in many ways. Its classrooms are bright, inviting, and filled with plants, books, animals, art, and music. These carefully created “prepared environments” are specially designed to serve the children who inhabit them. At each stage of a child’s growth, he or she possesses particular strengths and sensitivities—and SCM provides activities that help children tackle the challenges that present themselves.
For instance, Montessori materials create a “roadmap” that guides children from the concrete to the abstract. These instructional tools are arranged on low shelves so that students can easily reach them—and teachers introduce each item with particular aims in mind. Building systematically on past lessons, the curriculum connects projects to the real world and to each individual’s natural sense of wonder. The materials are appealing, provocative, and elegant. They stimulate the child into logical thought and discovery. Montessori materials are designed to reach the mind through the hands—and to engage all of a child’s senses.
The SCM Approach
SCM teachers encourage children to think and lead them to find answers for themselves. Each child proceeds at his or her own pace, and teachers work with students individually in each subject, guiding them according to individual needs. Quick learners are not held back, and students who need more time to master a subject are not pushed ahead before they are ready. Teachers work to eliminate competition. Without competition or coercion, each child is freed from overstrain, feelings of inferiority, and other common negative educational experiences.
The Montessori method recognizes that children can benefit by helping others and learning from their classmates. Classrooms buzz with quiet activity and foster a feeling of mutual aid, fellowship, and genuine respect for children and teachers.
SCM integrates academic learning, enrichment activities, character development, and social skills to deliver a well-rounded educational program whose lessons stick with children for their entire lives.
The Montessori Method Throughout the World
The Montessori method has succeeded for children of almost every nation, race, color, climate, nationality, social rank, and type of civilization. More than 5,000 Montessori schools exist in North America. In the United States, they exist in a variety of forms, including private nonprofit schools and public schools; furthermore, aspects of the approach have been incorporated into some Head Start programs. Santa Cruz Montessori is a private nonprofit school with teachers who have been certified by both the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI).
Montessori schools can be found throughout the world, including Western Europe, Central and South America, Australia, New Zealand and much of Asia. The movement is especially widespread in India, Sri Lanka, Korea, and Japan, and is beginning to grow in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and China. As our world grows smaller, this feature is of particular benefit to families that relocate to a new country. It is estimated that there are 20,000 Montessori Schools worldwide.
- The Secret of Childhood, Maria Montessori
- Montessori, A Modern Approach, Paula Polk Lillard
- Montessori Today, Paula Polk Lillard
- Positive Discipline, Jane Nelson
- Montessori: The Science behind the Genius, Angeline Lillard
- North American Montessori Teachers’ Association
- Association Montessori Internationale
- International Montessori Council