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Who was Maria Montessori?

Born Maria Tecla Artemesia Montessori on 31 August 1870 she was an Italian physician and educator whose schooling started in Florence, but she was not a remarkable student.
At age 14 she began her secondary education at a technical school, Regia Scuola Tecnica Michelangelo Buonarroti. She continued her schooling until the age of 20 when she graduated with 10 subjects to her credit in addition to two foreign languages.

Education and career

Upon graduation she turned her attention to the studying medicine, a highly unlikely field of study let alone a career for a woman at the time. Her career as a student was plagued by hostility. She graduated from the University of Rome in 1896 having spent the last two years studying pediatrics and psychiatry. She gained a position working in a pediatric consulting room and emergency service, becoming an expert in pediatric medicine.

Maria Montessori continued her career and her own education by working with and studying children with various physical and mental disabilities while at the same raising her own child, who as an adult would become her research partner.
After graduation Maria continued her research in the psychiatric department of the university and found herself volunteering as an assistant, she was required to visit asylums in Rome and in her observations of children with mental disabilities she created the foundation for her future teaching work. She also took the work of renowned physicians and educators and created a specific system for applying them to the everyday education of children with learning disabilities.

In 1900 an institute for training teachers in educating mentally disabled children was opened with 64 trainees. Maria Montessori was appointed co-director of the facility.

Development of the Montessori method

Maria continued her own education and also furthered the development of what she would later call “scientific pedagogy” and because she was interested in applying her methods so she took a position overseeing the care and education of a group of working class children aged from 2 to 7. She did not actively participate but oversaw their care and education and used her observations to implement a number if ideas and practices which would become the cornerstones of her education philosophy. The Montessori philosophy was continually evolving and the results of her trials led her to believe that independence was the aim of education.

Between 1915 and 1939 her work was noticed and her methods applied widely, setting a benchmark for the education of children. All the while, Maria was touring and lecturing in countries as far apart as the Netherlands and India. Her work and methods eventually reached America and South Africa. Maria Montessori had created over 4000 classrooms around the world where her methods and books were translated and used. The Montessori Method is still in use today on a much larger scale.

The Montessori Method:

Not only a book by Maria Montessori but a widely accepted and praised method of education. The Montessori Method aims towards independence through education while taking into account the psychological development of the pupil.

The education practices are broken down into age groups and lessons and activities are appropriate to the age group. The development of the child is encouraged through freedom within set parameters.
With the involvement of parents this system of education as employed by the Melville Montessori school can be continued at home.

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