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OMA offers resources throughout this website and in our monthly newsletters that strive to support parents in their understanding of Montessori and its application in the home. Visit the Related Pages at right for articles and links that help you find out more about Montessori principles and ways to enhance a child’s independence. Find links to Montessori organizations around the globe. Read inspiring parenting articles in the Challenges Parents May Face section and gain insights into the child’s developmental needs and abilities. Finally, link to our Member School page and plan a visit. You can Become an OMA Individual Member and receive monthly news bulletins and Forza Vitale articles, as well as discounts on workshops.
OMA Forza Vitale! Articles are written by Montessori professionals, mainly from the area of Oregon and SW WAshington. Link to the archives here to read the rich history of contributions, since 2006.
What is Montessori?
In its simplest form, Montessori refers to the philosophy of child and human development as presented by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician who lived from 1870 to 1952.
In the early 1900s, Dr. Montessori built her work with mentally challenged children on the research and studies of Jean Itard and Edward Seguin. Itard is known for his work with Victor, the “Wild Boy of Aveyron,” an eleven-year-old found in the woods of France in 1799. Itard’s work established the idea that language can only be learned early in life. He also designed hands-on language materials for teaching Victor, materials that Dr. Montessori further developed. Seguin expanded Itard’s work with deaf children and designed hands-on materials for understanding basic mathematics.
In 1907, at the behest of a ladies society, Dr. Montessori began using her teaching materials, based on Itard’s and Seguin’s designs, with children in a Rome tenement. Working with those children Dr. Montessori discovered what she called the “Secret of Childhood.”
What is the secret? Children love to be involved in self-directed, purposeful activities. When given a prepared environment of meaningful hands-on projects, along with the time to do those projects at his or her own pace, a child will choose to engage in activities that will create learning in personal and powerful ways.
A Montessori prepared environment includes the outdoors as well as the indoors and is filled with time-tested, hands-on materials that meet specific learning needs and encourage positive brain development. Above all, Montessori prepared environments are attractive to children and peaceful, giving children a place to work and live in grace and dignity. The prepared environment is a key Montessori concept. Over the past hundred years Montessori classrooms all over the world have proven that, when correctly implemented, Dr. Montessori’s philosophy, methods and materials work for children of all socioeconomic circumstances and all levels of ability.
Montessori classrooms come in all shapes and sizes, from the small, in-home class for a few children to schools with hundreds of students with infants to, in some instances, high school. While schools vary in size and scope, successful Montessori classrooms and schools will have three key components that create an authentic Montessori educational experience:
- Adults professionally trained in Montessori philosophy, methods and materials for the group they are teaching
- Prepared environments based on three-year age groups
- Children’s free choice of activity within, ideally, a three-hour work cycle.
From the book Understanding Montessori: A Guide for Parents by Maren Schmidt
Note: Maren Schmidt is an OMA Board Member