Montessori School of Durham

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Why Montessori

A Montessori education is highly individualized to each child’s unique growth and developmental path. Modern neuroscience confirms that classic Montessori methods promote problem solving, independent thinking, creativity, and collaboration. Children learn skills at an appropriate pace, and acquire the joy of discovery and an appreciation of nature.  We see our school as a joyful, peaceful, respectful and extraordinary educational community.
Each Montessori class, from toddlers through high school, operates on the principle of freedom within limits. Every program has its set of ground rules which differs from age to age, but is always based on core Montessori beliefs – respect for each other and for the environment.

Children are free to work at their own pace with materials they have chosen, either alone or with others. The teacher relies on her/his observations of the children to determine which new activities and materials she may introduce to an individual child or to a small or large group. The aim is to encourage active, self-directed learning and to strike a balance of individual mastery with small group collaboration within the whole group community.


Below, explore the answers to these questions:

What makes Montessori education unique?

How can an accredited, authentic Montessori classroom be identified?

How did it all begin?

What Makes Montessori Education Unique?

  1. The “Whole Child” approach. The primary goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach full potential in all areas of life. Activities promote the development of social skills, emotional growth, and physical coordination as well as cognitive preparation. The holistic curriculum, under the direction of a specially prepared teacher, allows the child to experience the joy of learning, time to enjoy the process and ensure the development of self-esteem, and provides the experiences from which children create their knowledge.
  2. The “Prepared Environment.”  In order for self-directed learning to take place, the whole learning environment (i.e., room, materials, and social climate) must be supportive of the individual learner. The teacher provides necessary resources, including opportunities for children to function in a safe and positive climate. The teacher thus gains the children’s trust, which enables them to try new things and build self-confidence.
  3. The Montessori materials.  Dr. Montessori’s observations of the kinds of things which children enjoy and use repeatedly led her to design a number of multisensory, sequential and self-correcting materials which facilitate the independent learning of skills and lead to learning abstract ideas.
  4. The Teacher. The Montessori teacher functions as designer of the environment, resource person, role model, demonstrator, record-keeper, and meticulous observer of each child’s behavior and growth.

How Can an Accredited, Authentic Montessori Classroom be Identified?

Since Montessori is a word in the public domain, it is possible for any individual or institution to claim to be Montessori. But an authentic Montessori classroom must have these basic characteristics:

  • Teachers educated and certified in the Montessori philosophy and methodology for the age level they are teaching, and who have the ability and dedication to put the concepts into practice.
  • A partnership established with the family. The family is considered an integral part of the individual’s total development.
  • A multi-aged, heterogeneous grouping of students.
  • A diverse set of Montessori materials, activities and experiences which are designed to foster physical, intellectual, creative and social independence.
  • A schedule which allows large blocks of time to problem-solve, to see connections in knowledge, and to create new ideas.
  • A classroom atmosphere which encourages social interaction for cooperative learning, peer teaching, and emotional development.

How Did it Begin?

Dr. Maria Montessori, the creator of the Montessori Method of Education, based the techniques on her scientific observations of young children’s behavior. As the first woman physician to graduate from the University of Rome, Montessori became involved with education as a doctor treating children labeled as retarded. Then in 1907 she was invited to open a child care center for the children of desperately poor families in the San Lorenzo slums of Rome.

She called it a “Children’s House,” and based the program on her observations that young children learn best in a homelike setting, filled with developmentally appropriate materials that provide experiences contributing to the growth of self-motivated, independent learners.

She carried her message throughout the world, including the United States as early as 1912. After an enthusiastic first response, interest in the US waned until a reintroduction of the method in the mid-1950’s, followed by the organization of the American Montessori Society in 1960.

Montessori Videos

Explore the videos below to learn more about the Montessori difference.
Want to learn more?
See our "Why Montessori School of Durham" page or contact us today to schedule a personalized private tour of campus!
The American Montessori Society provides a wealth of information about Montessori education to parents.
Visit their website at