Maria Montessori in 1936. Image courtesy of  Montessori Centenary .

Maria Montessori in 1936. Image courtesy of Montessori Centenary.

Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator and innovator, acclaimed for her educational method that builds on the way children naturally learn.

During the sensitive periods of life for the absorbent mind, birth to age 6, the child discovers by touching, seeing, smelling, tasting and exploring. Maria Montessori realized that all children have an inborn motivation to learn, an innate desire which is fulfilled through their senses. In fact, a child cannot be stopped from doing so. Utilizing scientific observation and experience gained from her earlier work with young children, Maria designed learning materials and a classroom environment that fostered the children’s natural desire to learn. News of the school’s success soon spread through Italy and by 1910 Montessori schools were acclaimed worldwide.

Today there are over 4,000 Montessori schools in this country alone, as well as many others in more than 80 countries throughout the world. Many of these schools were started by parents who were concerned with their own children’s educational needs. For many years there were only private schools but because of the success of the Montessori Method, there are almost 3,000 Montessori teachers teaching in public schools today, and even more teaching in private schools.