Maria Montessori, Italy's first woman physician and one of the great educators of her time, pioneered the work with the children that we carry on today at The Montessori School. She was born in Chiaravalle, Italy, in 1870.
Her first association with children began in 1898 at the University Psychiatric Clinic in Rome. Through intense study, observations and long days working with these children, she discovered that their problems were more emotional than medical, so designed special learning materials, montessori materials, to meet their needs and trained teachers to present them in a special way. Montessori's success with these children was proclaimed to be miraculous.
In 1904, she turned her attention to "normal" children. She opened her first school, Casa de Bambini (Children's House) on January 6, 1907 in the San Lorenzo slums of Rome. Word of this "new education" began to spread and many more schools were opened in Italy and other countries.
In half a century, her work became known as the "Montessori Method." In 1929 she founded the Association Montessori Internationale, AMI, to continue her work. During the war years, it was regarded as a movement for world peace. Indeed, she saw the child as the most legitimate hope for a new world. Honorary doctorates, recognition and awards were bestowed on her from countries all over the world.
By the time of her death in 1952, she had gained an international reputation as an educator and had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times.
Montessori fervently believed that children have an inner force that gives them the power and drive to achieve their full potential. When children are given the proper measures of guidance and freedom, this inner force enables them to focus on what they need to know. If unimpeded, children learn with wonder, joy and confidence.
A vital part of the Montessori approach at school is a carefully prepared environment that is beautiful and orderly. It includes didactic materials designed to meet the needs of each child at his/her particular level of development. Through skilled observation, the adult is prepared to offer children the kind of instruction that will stimulate their interest and activity.