About Montessori

The Montessori method of education:

  • Emphasizes developing the potential of each child
  • Takes place in a nurturing, child-centered community
  • Builds upon the child’s interests and encourages him/her to explore and discover
  • Exposes a child to a rich, broad-based developmental curriculum
  • Occurs in a mixed-age classroom, which offers an opportunity for peer mentoring, collaborative work and social interaction
  • Is guided by specially trained Montessori teachers who aim to help children develop confidence and self-esteem, a joy and enthusiasm for learning, and a sense of care and respect for others

Characteristics of the Montessori classroom:

  • Multi-age classrooms
  • Individually paced learning
  • Teachers as guides, not instructors
  • Integrated curriculum
  • Applied learning and projects
  • Emphasis on intrinsic motivation
  • Longer work periods and self-directed learning
  • Development of friendships, life skills and community
The Montessori method has stood the test of time and today is considered a premier alternative learning program. Children who have attended a Montessori school are more confident in their abilities, are motivated to achieve new levels of knowledge and have a love of learning.

1. A Brief Biography of Maria Montessori and the Montessori Movement

Born on August 31, 1870, in Chiaravalle, Italy, Dr. Maria Montessori established herself at an early age as a thinker, scientist and trailblazer. At 14 she attended classes at a boys’ technical institute, where she honed her aptitude and interest in the sciences. In 1896, she graduated with high honors from the medical school at the University of Rome, becoming the first female physician in Italy. Her chosen specialty was pediatrics and psychiatry.

Dr. Montessori began her professional research of children by observing developmentally disabled children, and she was highly influenced by the French physicians Gaspard and Seguin. Through her observations she began to develop her own theories of children’s learning and development, forming her philosophy based on scientific observation, pedagogical experimentation and a deep respect for the child. She “declared two principles as the foundation of the Montessori pedagogy: the universal characteristics of the human child, and the child as a unique, unrepeatable, respectable and admirable individual that was to be unconditionally accepted as one of life’s most marvelous expressions” (Association Montessori Internationale).

Dr. Montessori’s first school, Casa de Bambini, opened in 1907 and served underprivileged children living in the tenements of Rome. The school was furnished with child-sized furniture and materials of her own design. As she worked with the children she observed their interactions with the environment and materials, modifying both where necessary. Soon the children were displaying self-discipline, preferring authentic materials to toys, and working with profound concentration and joy. Children demonstrated a natural affinity for order, took care of their environment and were intrinsically motivated to learn. Based upon her observations, she concluded that the children almost effortlessly absorbed knowledge from their surroundings and were tireless in their interactions with the materials. Word of Casa de Bambini spread, drawing international interest. Gradually Dr. Montessori’s work and pedagogy spread throughout Europe and made its way to America.

By 1925 more than 1,000 Montessori schools had opened in America. Gradually, however, interest in the Montessori approach diminished, and by 1940 only a few Montessori schools remained. During World War II Dr. Montessori and her son, Mario, were forced to flee from Italy to India; it was there that she developed the Education for Peace program. She was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize and is noted for her efforts to foster a more peaceful and harmonious world.

Since the 1960s there has been a resurgence of interest in Montessori education. Today there are Montessori classrooms throughout the United States and the world, teaching generations of children to be independent, motivated, curious and joyful learners.

2. Frequently Asked Questions about Montessori

Faqs

Why do Hudson Montessori School classes tend to be larger than those found in many other schools?

Schools that place children together into small groups assume that the teacher—a very limited resource—is the source of instruction. They reason that as the number of children decreases, the time that teachers have to spend with each child increases.

In contrast, Hudson Montessori School recognizes that the best teacher of a 3-year-old is often another somewhat older child, a process that is good for both the tutor and the younger child. In this situation, the teacher is not the primary focus. The larger group size in our classroom puts the focus less on the adult and encourages children to learn from each other.

By consciously bringing children together in larger multi-age class groups, in which two-thirds of the children return each year, the school environment promotes continuity and the development of a stable community.

How can Hudson Montessori School teachers meet the needs of so many different children?

Great teachers help learners get to the point where their minds and hearts are open to learning. In highly effective schools, students are motivated not so much by getting good grades as they are by a basic love of learning. As parents know their own children’s learning styles and temperaments, Hudson Montessor Schooli teachers, too, develop this sense of each child’s uniqueness by spending a number of years with the students and their parents.

Our teachers closely monitor their students’ progress. Because they normally work with each child for two or three years, they get to know their students’ strengths and weaknesses, interests and personalities extremely well. Hudson Montessori School teachers often use the children’s interests to enrich the curriculum and provide alternate avenues for accomplishment and success.

Will my child be able to adjust to traditional public or private schools after Hudson Montessori School?

There is nothing inherent about Hudson Montessori School that causes children to have a hard time if they transfer to traditional schools. Some may be bored. Others may not understand why everyone in the class has to do the same thing at the same time. But most adapt to their new setting fairly quickly, making new friends and succeeding within the expectations set forth in their new school. There will naturally be trade-offs if a Hudson Montessori School child transfers to a traditional school. The curriculum in Montessori schools is often more enriched than that taught in other schools. The values and attitudes of the children and teachers may also be quite different. Learning will often be focused more on adult-assigned tasks done more by rote than with enthusiasm and understanding.

There is an old saying that if something is working, don’t fix it. This leads many families to continue their children at Hudson Montessori School at least through the eighth grade.

Why does Hudson Montessori School group different age levels together?

Sometimes parents worry that by having younger children in the same class as older ones, one group or the other will be shortchanged. They fear that the younger children will absorb the teachers’ time and attention, or that the importance of covering the kindergarten curriculum for the 5-year-olds will prevent them from giving the 3- and 4-year-olds the emotional support and stimulation that they need. Both concerns are misguided.

At each level, our programs are designed to address the developmental characteristics normal to children in that stage.

  • Our classes are organized to encompass a two- or three-year age span, which allows younger students the stimulation of older children, who in turn benefit from serving as role models. Each child learns at his/her own pace and will be ready for any given lesson in his/her own time, not on the teacher’s schedule of lessons. In a mixed-age class, children can always find peers who are working at their current level.
  • Children normally stay in the same class for three years. With two-thirds of the class returning each year, the classroom culture tends to remain quite stable.
  • Working in one class for two or three years allows students to develop a strong sense of community with their classmates and teachers. The age range also allows especially gifted children the stimulation of intellectual peers, without requiring that they skip a grade or feel emotionally out of place.

Is Hudson Montessori School effective with the very highly gifted child?

Yes, in general, children who are highly gifted will find Hudson Montessori School to be both intellectually challenging and flexible enough to respond to them as unique individuals. It affords the opportunity for students to explore real-world questions and to be challenged at a greater pace than in more conventional classrooms.

What training do teachers need to be Hudson Montessori School teachers?

Teachers at Hudson Montessori School have secured a certification from an accredited Montessori training program. In these programs, the teachers are deeply immersed in the developmental characteristics of children and how to create a learning environment that is reflective of those characteristics.

Do students take standardized testing? If so, how do they score?

Students at Hudson Montessori School take the Terra Nova test.For testing purposes, we give grade level tests starting in 3rd grade and continuing through 8th grade. The Terra Nova is a comprehensive test that is administered at public and private schools. Historically, our average 8th grade student scores at and above the 90th percentile and above on reading, language and mathematics.

Below is a chart which presents the median 8th grade score for the Class of 2017 on the Terra Nova versus national median score.8th Grade Median 2017 Performance

3. Resources