The Montessori method is an educational method for children, based on the theories of child development originated by Italian educator Maria Montessori (1870-1952) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Montessori method is characterized by an emphasis on self-directed activity and constant observation on the part of the teacher. It stresses the importance of adapting the child’s learning environment to his or her developmental needs. It is also characterized by the use of self-correcting materials for the introduction and mastery of various educational concepts and life skills.
Dr. Montessori advocated children’s rights, children working to develop themselves into adults, and that these developments would lead to world peace. Mixed-age groupings are typical in a Montessori classroom. This environment enhances a child’s learning by promoting peer relationships that span a range of ages. This allows children to be mentored by their peers, become leaders to others, and to learn from their environment rather than be directly taught by the teacher. This gives each child the opportunity to learn at his or her own pace while still remaining a member of the community. The Montessori method discourages traditional measurements of achievement, like grades and tests, under the premise that it is damaging to the inner growth of children. More often, analysis of a child’s performance does exist but is usually provided in the form of a list of skills, activities and critical points, rather than a quantitative measurement that compares a child to a peer group.