Many people think of Montessori as being an approach for the early years, but this worldwide movement (and lifestyle) is equally relevant to adolescents as it is to pre-schoolers. There are several primary Montessori schools in the UK and three Montessori schools for secondary aged students. You can find many of them in our directory. Montessori Group CEO, Leonor Stjepic, says:
“We often hear that Montessori methods aren’t for all but that’s not the case. Accessible, fun, practical, and rooted in science – that’s Montessori. Many Montessori activities can be adopted in every home and every child can gain from the philosophy.”
This film shows one parent’s perspective of how Montessori education differs from conventional schooling.
“Dr Maria Montessori’s vision of an education system that allows individual children to reach their full potential and develop a life-long love of learning is secured through effective, flexible working relationships with educators that are robust and built on mutual trust – as essential today as it was 100 years ago.
In a rapidly changing world, undergoing a digital revolution, with the consequences for humanity as far-reaching as those of the industrial revolution, Montessori prepares children for the world in which they are growing up. From learning the skills needed for future work, to an understanding of the necessity of respecting the natural world around us; from respect for the diversity of others to self-confidence and emotional resilience – the Montessori pedagogy covers them all.”
The Montessori approach to education was established by the Italian doctor, Maria Montessori (1870-1952). She has been hailed as one of the most important educators of the 20th century.
After graduating from medical school, Montessori studied education, philosophy, psychology and anthropology. She initially taught children with special educational needs (SEN).
She approached their education as a scientist, using the classroom as her laboratory for observation and finding ways to help children reach their full potential.
She concluded that these SEN methods should actually be applied to all children.
In 1907 she founded her first school, the Children’s House, in Rome which was to become world famous. Her goal for childhood was to “activate the child’s own natural desire to learn.”
The key features of today’s Montessori schools include:
Dr Angeline Lillard presents the research behind the foundations of Montessori education in her book, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. “Amid the clamor for evidence-based education, she presents the studies that show how children learn best, makes clear why many traditional practices come up short, and describes an ingenious alternative that works.”
Lillard gives an overview of her book in a ten-part presentation, the first of which you can watch below. She says:
“I decided to take a Montessori training course on infant development. There was so much enthusiasm about Montessori but sometimes I would wonder… I was sceptical…
But I became increasingly impressed by how this woman 100 years ago – simply by watching children – arrived at so many of the same conclusions that our careful scientific research is reaching today.
What I didn’t expect would happen in the course of writing this book was that I would become increasingly disturbed by traditional education. Why don’t we incorporate these findings more in how we educate children today?”
Dr Angeline Lillard
A glossary of terms and components of the Montessori approach can be found here: https://montessori-ami.org/resource-library/facts/glossary-montessori-terms
The Montessori method was never trademarked, so schools will vary from one to another in terms of how much they adhere to Maria Montessori’s original ethos. Many for example combine the Montessori curriculum with the National Curriculum.
There are several accreditation boards which can guide you in your research:
AMI was founded in 1929 by Dr Maria Montessori herself with two goals in mind:
AMI is a source of Montessori training as well as a centre for continuing research and development.
The Montessori Group’s accreditation and recognition programmes have been in operation for over 22 years (called the Montessori Evaluation and Accreditation Board, MEAB). In 2021, the scheme was updated and launched as the Standards & Training Accreditation Review (STAR) by Montessori Centre International (MCI).
Founded in 1993, ME(UK) is a registered charity committed to promoting high standards across Montessori schools and training providers in the UK.
The Montessori Group – which includes Montessori Centre International (MCI) and Montessori St Nicholas Charity (MSN) – has teamed up with Leeds Beckett University’s Carnegie School of Education to launch the International Montessori Institute. Established on August 31st, 2020 on what would have been Dr Montessori’s 150th birthday, the Institute supports the development of accredited Montessori programmes housed in the subject area of Interdisciplinary Studies and actively researches the impact of the Montessori Method. They have the UK’s first full suite of dedicated undergraduate, Masters and PhD courses in Montessori education, the world’s first Professor of Montessori and will be a centre for quality research into Early Years and the Montessori approach in the UK.
There is also a range of courses available through the AMI (Association Montessori Internationale):
You can search our directory for a Montessori school near you.
You can read some of our interviews with Montessori teachers.
The Wall Street Journal (2011) is quoted as saying that a Montessori education is the surest route to joining the creative elite. The Montessori Group website lists many examples to back up this statement.
There are many high achievers who were Montessori educated, including Singer/Songwriters, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé Knowles and P Diddy; Actors, John Cusack, Helen Hunt and George Clooney; Basketball Player, Stephen Curry; Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.
Will Wright, video game pioneer, says Montessori was the imagination amplifier that prepared him for creating The Sims, Sim City and Super Mario Brothers.
High profile members of society who have chosen to send their children to Montessori schools include the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Supermodel, Kate Moss.
Dr Montessori’s Own Handbook: A Short Guide to Her Ideas and Materials, by Maria Montessori
The Essential Montessori, by Elizabeth Hainstock
The Absorbent Mind, by Maria Montessori
Secret of Childhood, by Maria Montessori and Joseph Costelloe
The Discovery of the Child, by Maria Montessori
The Formation of Man, by Maria Montessori
To Educate the Human Potential, by Maria Montessori
Education for Human Development: Understanding Montessori, by Maria Montessori
Montessori – A Modern Approach, by Paula Polk Lillard
Montessori in the Classroom, by Paula Polk Lillard
Montessori Today, by Paula Polk Lillard
The Montessori Controversay, by John Chattin-McNicholas
The Pink What? by DePe Stephenson
Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, by Angeline Stoll Lillard
Montessori Read & Write, by Lynne Lawrence
Montessori Play & Learn, by Lesley Britton
Progressive Education Group – Our supportive forum discussing progressive approaches to education (including Montessori) and why we need them.
Lead Montessori – A global learning community of practice. “We network, share and collaborate.”
Montessori Europe – As a hub for Montessori education in Europe, Montessori Europe is committed to strengthening the ties between Montessorians in Europe and beyond.