What is the Montessori Philosophy?

woman reading to children

The Montessori philosophy is a view of children and how they learn, based on the teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952), one of the first female physicians in Italy. In 1907, she created a school for working-class children in Rome called the "Casa dei Bambina." By working with the children, she realized a traditional classroom setting was not the most beneficial for child development.


In particular, Dr. Montessori realized the children learn best when they are self-directing, manipulating items that are accessible to their developmental stages. In other words, children teach themselves. In a school setting, the teacher needs to respect each child's individuality and be flexible to create curriculum and guidance that follows the child's development. This leads to a more dynamic classroom as the child evolves.

Another critical component of the Montessori philosophy is that the development of the child includes not only the educational component, but psychological and spiritual growth as well. In a school setting, this is encouraged through a classroom that is founded on respect and empathy. Much more than a simple "no bullying" policy, by incorporating lessons and schedules, children are able to engage and mentor each other, building up strong interpersonal relationships.  If the child's emotional needs are being met, he or she will be more excited and encouraged to learn.

Education is a natural process carried out by the human indivdual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment. ~Dr Maria. Montessori

How is the Montessori Philosophy applied to a Public Charter School Setting?

Since the 1960s, nearly all Montessori schools in the United States were private. However, in the past decade, there has been an expansion of Montessori charter schools across the nation. Indeed, there are even public Montessori advocacy groups at the national and international level. In California, there are several examples of excellent Montessori elementary schools that have implemented successful curriculum that address the state standards. Put another way, the state standards that all public school students strive toward in Language Arts, History, Math, and Science, represent a level of achievement. But, how a child reaches that goal takes many forms.


It is our belief that for many students, a traditional classroom setting does not allow for the myriad ways of successful learning. At its core, the Montessori philosophy is founded on the principle that students should be self-directed and the school should educate the whole-child. At Sherwood Montessori, we will follow the example of other successful California charter and public Montessori schools by implementing curriculum that addresses state standards per grade level but allowing the students to use Montessori-based techniques to reach their goals. By using the state standards as an educational goal, Sherwood Montessori will allow for easier lateral transitions for students leaving a traditional classroom and also for those students who wish to leave Sherwood for a different school.


In practice, a Montessori classroom is quite different from a traditional classroom. Desks and chairs are replaced with tables and work areas. Instead of lectures, the teachers move about the room helping to guide each student in his or her self-directed 'works.' No bells signify a shift from one task to another; students are taught to recognize their own paces. Montessori teachers assign less homework since the belief is that the child has spent a successful day in the classroom and the time away from school should be spent on other endeavors of personal growth. Montessori students do study, and we will help parents find ways to be more involved in their child's education.


What is the result of this unique classroom setting? Students that are more self-aware, with strong critical-thinking and communication skills, and a genuinely positive view of themselves and their peers.

Learn more about Montessori education

We encourage prospective parents to browse these links to gain additional information into the Montessori philosophy.  


American Montessori Society. Official webpage for one of the main Montessori organizations in the U.S.A.  The AMS is one of the governing boards that provides accredidation to Montessori elementary schools.

The Montessori Foundation. A non-profit group that publishes valuable articles on the Montessori philosophy, including the journal "Tomorrows Child" which can be accessed on their website.