History Behind the Movement

A brief history of Dr. Maria Montessori.  Includes links to books, media and information about the Montessori philosophy and approach to child development and education.

History Behind the Movement

Dr. Maria Montessori is working alongside a child in a Children's House outdoor environment.  The Button Dressing Frame in Dr. Montessori's lap is a Practical Life material used to support and encourage the child's care of herself by building her hand-eye coordination, concentration, independence and order.


History and Background

Dr. Maria Montessori was a physician in Rome, Italy in the late 1800s.  She was the first female physician to graduate from the University of Rome Medical School in Rome, Italy.  Through her studies and research as a physician, Dr. Montessori found herself drawn to children and how they learn and develop.  

In 1907 she was asked to direct a day-care center for children 3 through 7 years old that were living in an impoverished area of the city.  These children were left alone for the better part of their days, as their parents worked long hours in the cities' factories.  

Prior to this experience, Dr. Montessori never worked with or studied children.  Through hours of observing the behavior of children, she noticed they showed her what they were needing.  Dr. Montessori discovered children love to be involved in self-directed and purposeful activities, and learn best in an environment of structure and support.   When children are presented a prepared environment, with developmentally appropriate didactics, they will choose to participate with great commitment in activities that teach them in "personal and very powerful ways," which ultimately fosters their interests and well being. (Understanding Montessori: A Guide for Parents)  

Building plans of Casa dei Bambini.

Building plans of Casa dei Bambini.

Dr. Montessori dedicated the rest of her life to the philosophy of child and human development.  She studied children from all over the world in varying socioeconomic populations and different cultures and found that every child displays the same intrinsic need and desire to learn and grow.  She created scientifically proven learning materials and environments, relative to their developmental stage, for children ages birth through adolescence.  These materials and environments, which have generally come to be known as "The Montessori Method" to education, is a holistic approach to child development and education that encompasses the entire child-physically, emotionally, cognitively and socially.  The Teacher  better known as the "Guide" or "Directress" is trained through intense and accredited educational institutions in the Montessori Method, which include curriculum, philosophy, classroom environmental design, child development and pedagogy.  Given a properly trained teacher, a prepared environment and time to concentrate and focus for a period of at least three hours a day, children have proven to us, for over 100 years, that they can develop into intrinsically motivated, confident, well rounded, contributing members to the world!



  A photograph of the plaque recognizing Dr. Montessori's first Children's House in Rome, Italy in 1907.  The plaque is stationed outside the building courtyard where the program     remains a thriving and active today.

 A photograph of the plaque recognizing Dr. Montessori's first Children's House in Rome, Italy in 1907.  The plaque is stationed outside the building courtyard where the program remains a thriving and active today.