Dr. Montessori, Education & Peace

The child is both a hope and a promise for [hu]mankind.
The Montessori Method encourages concentration, organization, and independence in children while promoting respect for self, others, and the environment. Through doing, children become connected to the world, understanding their place as part of the whole and preparing them for a lifetime of learning.

Developed over 100-years ago by Dr. Maria Montessori, the Montessori Method is grounded in a love of humanity and the promotion of peace and courtesy as guiding principles. A Montessori education honors children's innate ability to control their own learning experiences. The Montessori Method provides a stark contrast to traditional education systems where the teacher is the active giver of information and children are passive receivers. At CMEC, we stay true to the heart of the Montessori Method by following the five core components emphasized by Dr. Montessori.

List of 6 items.

  • Dr. Maria Montessori – Physician, Educator, and Activist

    As we observe children, we see the vitality of their spirit, the maximum effort put forth in all they do, the intuition, attention and focus they bring to all life’s events, and the sheer joy they experience in living.
    — Dr. Montessori, The Child, Society and the World

    Dr. Montessori was one of the first women to graduate from the University of Rome Medical School in 1896. She was a physician, psychiatrist, women's rights, and social justice activist who created the Montessori Method. Her studies in medicine, psychiatry, anthropology, and education provided the foundation for her vision of early childhood education. She opened the first "Children's House (Casa dei Bambini) in 1907. Through scientific observation of children, she understood that children were active, not passive learners ready to take responsibility for their learning. She observed that environments allowing purposeful, self-directed activity, children become spontaneously absorbed in self-selected work, appearing calm and refreshed when complete. Repeated experiences of "spontaneous concentration" transform the child's personality to one of joy, tranquility, compassion, and curiosity - one that is capable of profound engagement and concentration. Although the focus of Montessori's work was on the individual child, the goal of her work encompassed the whole of society. She viewed the child's spirit as the world's most incredible resource - if we want to improve the world, we must start by supporting the child's natural development.

    Dr. Montessori was born in 1870 (Chiaravalle, Ancona, Italy) and died in 1952 (Noordwijk aan Zee, Netherlands). The Montessori Method was introduced in the United States (New York and Boston) in 1911. In 1915, at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, a demonstration of a Montessori classroom in a glass pavilion ("the glass classroom") popularized the method.
  • #1 Credentialed Montessori Teachers

    To stimulate life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself, that is the first duty of the educator.
    — Dr. Montessori

    At CMEC, our classrooms consist of two teachers, with at least one Montessori credentialed teacher in our infant/toddler and Children’s House programs. Our teachers are college educated, and many have master's degrees. Our Montessori credentialed teachers have been trained at Xavier University, and CMEC's very own teacher education program.

    A trained Montessori teacher upholds the fidelity of the method by understanding and applying Montessori theory, philosophy, and methodology through the accurate application of Montessori materials, interaction with children, and proper preparation of the environment. Through observation, Montessori teachers guide each child based on their unique interests, abilities, social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. Collaboration between prepared adults and children is welcomed and expected. In a Montessori classroom, the adult follows the child's lead and provides guidance when needed. The adult must assess the child's readiness and interest, prepare the learning environment, invite engagement, and protect the child's concentration.
  • #2 Mixed-Age Classrooms

    There are many things which no teacher can convey to a child of three, but a child of five can do it with the utmost ease…a child of three will take interest in what a five-year-old is doing, since it is not far removed from his own powers.
    — Dr. Montessori

    Dr. Montessori identified four phases of child development which she referred to as "planes of development" (infancy, childhood, adolescence, and maturity). The planes of development are represented by 6-year increments from birth to age 21. Understanding the planes of development led to building mixed-age classrooms in 3-year cycles, essentially splitting each plane in two.

    At CMEC, we serve students in the first two planes of development. “Infancy” promotes physical independence and includes our JKC (6 weeks to 3 years) and Children’s House (3 to 6 years) programs. “Childhood” promotes social independence and community consciousness and includes our Lower (6 to 9 years) and Upper (9 to 12 years) Elementary programs.

    Mixed-age classrooms provide an opportunity for children to observe and collaborate. Reciprocal learning opportunities are created where younger children can observe and provide feedback to older children, who can further master previously learned concepts and develop leadership skills by guiding younger children. Montessori students’ progress at their own pace and guide their learning processes. This self-directed learning creates a collaborative learning environment rich with community-building opportunities while encouraging peer teaching and cooperative learning in a non-competitive environment.
  • #3 Prepared Classroom Environment and Montessori Materials

    The right education depends fundamentally on the right environment. Seeing that the child has a distinct life rhythm, and that his activity has different aims from those of adult, he needs an environment apart, specially created for him.
    — Dr. Montessori, “The Child’s Environment,” AMI Communications

    Dr. Montessori studied the needs of children, their interactions with one another, and how they used materials through observation. She created the prepared environment and foundational Montessori materials to guide their learning processes and integrate the curriculum.

    The prepared environment is composed of:
    1. the environment or materials/activities that match the developmental age of the children
    2. a mixed age group of children all in the same developmental plane
    3. Montessori trained adult(s) who understand the prepared environment and can meet the needs of the child

    The Montessori classroom is intentionally prepared to allow freedom of movement and accessible Montessori materials, appropriate to the children's developmental level. Classrooms are purposefully designed to create flow, calm, and opportunity to learn in an organized space. There is order, beauty, art, natural materials, rich language, respect, and affirmation of identity and culture – all at the child's size. A broad curriculum of language, math, science, culture, art, music, movement, sensorial, practical life skills, and social development is provided.

    Montessori materials are intentional, hands-on, concrete, and manipulatable. They are self-correcting, aiming to teach a single skill or concept. Materials foster independence by encouraging independent, interdependent, and collaborative learning experiences. They follow a logical and developmentally appropriate progression as children begin to move from concrete to more abstract understandings of concepts.
  • #4 Child Directed Work

    We must help the child to act for himself, will for himself, think for himself; this is the art of those who aspire to serve the spirit.
    — Dr. Maria Montessori, Education for a New World

    The Montessori classroom is child-centered and child-directed. It promotes active learning in an environment where the child assumes responsibility for their learning and behavior appropriate to their age and maturity levels. Therefore, children choose work that is meaningful and of interest to them. Teachers guide the child's decision and provide resources to support their learning choices.

    Children are guided by intrinsic instead of extrinsic motivations, which encourage autonomy, sustained attention, and responsibility.
  • #5 Uninterrupted Work Cycles

    The child is capable of developing and giving us tangible proof of the possibility of a better humanity. He has shown us the true process of construction of the human being. We have seen children totally change as they acquire a love for things and as their sense of order, discipline, and self-control develops within them.... The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.
    — Dr. Montessori, Education and Peace

    Montessori classrooms are not only purposefully prepared in terms of materials but also in respect to time. It is critical to provide adequate uninterrupted time for children to explore and learn independently without being forced from one classroom activity to the next. For this reason, the day is organized around a 3-hour uninterrupted work cycle. During this time, children can select works that interest them, move at their own pace from one task to the next, and interact with their peers around the selected activities without disruption.

    A typical work cycle involves a child selecting a work, performing the associated activity, cleaning up the activity, and returning it to its place. They can do this as many times as they like within the 3-hour uninterrupted work cycle. During this time, teachers support the children by helping and providing additional guidance when needed.
Watch this video to learn more about the Montessori Method and its use in early childhood and elementary education 

To learn more about how the Montessori Method is used with children ages 6 weeks to 12 years at CMEC, visit our Program page.

Columbus Montessori Education Center

Montessori is an innovative, child-centered approach to education, developed a century ago by a woman ahead of her time.

CMEC provides a high quality Montessori education to a diverse community of learners ages 6 weeks to 6th grade; empowering them to change the world in ways big and small.