Who was Maria Montessori?
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was the first female physician in Italy. She opened the first “Children’s House” (Casa dei Bambini) in 1907 in a tenement building in Rome.
Recognizing that children possess a natural desire to learn, she developed a curriculum to enable them to explore their curiosity independently in an environment oriented to children—an idea that was revolutionary at the time.
Montessori wrote many books on her educational philosophy, and traveled extensively, living and working in the Netherlands and in India. She also became an advocate for peace education. Today there are over 6,000 Montessori schools worldwide.
How does the Montessori method work?
In a Montessori classroom children learn at their own pace, using attractive materials that engage all of the senses. The multi-age classrooms encourage social interaction, and children learn respect for themselves, others, and their environment.
Each Montessori classroom is a prepared environment, oriented to the child’s world and carefully designed by the Montessori-trained teacher, who guides the child’s activity and offers encouragement to persist in given tasks.
“Help me to do it myself!” Maria Montessori recognized that children long for independence. Even the youngest child of three is shown how to prepare his or her own snack, put on outdoor clothes, clean up spills, and care for classroom pets and plants.
Materials are carefully organized and beautifully displayed on open shelves to allow the child to follow his or her interest. This offers the child freedom within limits to pursue their curiosity and explore the world around them.
Children are grouped in multi-age classrooms, where younger children learn from their older peers, and eventually become role models themselves. This also creates a stable classroom community where the teacher and children learn to know each other well. The maximum benefit from a Montessori education is gained when children complete the entire three years of a cycle.
Consistent with Montessori principles, children at the Kennebec Montessori School:
*Develop concentration and coordination through purposeful activities such as pouring and spooning, buttoning and zipping, polishing and washing.
*Learn to read at their own pace using a phonetic system.
*Use concrete math materials that help them grasp advanced concepts earlier than other educational approaches.
All of our activities encourage a spirit of independence and accomplishment that helps develop a child’s natural curiosity and nurtures a love of learning that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do all Montessori schools follow the same curriculum?
Any school can use the name “Montessori,” but not all employ Montessori materials or follow traditional Montessori principles. At KMS, all our teachers are certified, Montessori-trained teachers, and the school is accredited with the American Montessori Society.
Is it true that Maria Montessori discouraged play?
On the contrary, Maria Montessori believed that play is the “work” of the child. You will hear Montessori teachers refer to activities in the classroom as “work,” but we use the term out of respect for the child, who is engaged in the important task of self-creation. Through play children try on new roles: they imagine what might be instead of what is; they develop creativity as they combine old elements in new ways, and they learn problem-solving skills as they work through difficulties. They also begin to consider the needs and perspectives of others. What you will not find in our classrooms are conventional toys, because preschoolers with elaborate props actually make fewer imaginative responses. We believe that making a train out of cylinder blocks offers more opportunity for true play than having a toy train on the shelf!
What kinds of creative outlets will my child have at KMS?
Creativity and playfulness go hand in hand, and we strive to provide activities that will engage and excite all the senses. Each classroom, including the afterschool program, has an art area for children to draw, color, and paint. All children participate in group singing and perform in two concerts each year. Extended day and Elementary children also receive weekly instruction in art and music; Elementary students learn to play tin whistle. On special occasions such as Thanksgiving and Mother’s Day, children prepare food in the classrooms. Yoga and theater arts are available through our afterschool program. Individual piano and violin lessons are also available on site.
How do you handle discipline?
Our teachers use the methods of “Positive Discipline” developed by Jane Nelsen.
Avoiding the extremes of prizes and punishments, our goal is to help the child understand why a particular behavior is harmful by considering its impact on others. We encourage children to resolve their conflicts by talking and listening to each other.
Will a Montessori education make my child smarter?
Maria Montessori said, “It is true that we cannot make a genius. We can only give to each child the chance to fulfill his potential possibilities.” Our ultimate goal is to help each child flourish as his or her unique personality emerges. There is growing evidence, however, that a Montessori education leads to greater social and academic success in later years. Read more.