Montessori History

“There are many who hold, as I do, that the most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement is being formed. But not only his intelligence – the full totality of his psychic powers”

                                                                                                                       Dr. Maria Montessori

Dr. Maria Montessori was born in Chiaravalle in the Ancona province of Italy. She was educated at the University of Rome, and in 1894 she became the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree. She joined the medical staff at the university’s psychiatric clinic and soon became interested in the education of children with mental challenges. She gradually became convinced that children with mental challenges were much more capable of learning than experts of that time believed.

In 1901 Dr. Maria Montessori was appointed director of the Orthophrenic School of Rome, which had been used as an asylum to confine children with mental disabilities. Drawing largely on the ideas of French educators Jean Itard and Edouard Séguin, Dr. Maria Montessori provided the children with mental stimulation, meaningful activities, and opportunities to develop self-esteem. She received widespread recognition for her work when many of the adolescents at the school passed standard tests for sixth-grade students in the Italian public schools.

Dr. Maria Montessori began her career as an educator of children working with a group of fifty children, three to five year olds, on January 6, 1907 in the city of Rome.  As a physician and educator, she observed that children flourished in a stimulating yet orderly environment.  She believed that early childhood education should cultivate a child’s desire to learn.  Dr. Maria Montessori developed highly specialized material that would control children’s movements, be self-correcting, manipulative and help to develop their intellect.  The Montessori educational program is offered worldwide today and is the result of long years of research and observation of children.