Montessori Children's House - A Montessori Center on Portland's Riverfront
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About Montessori

From the moment of birth a child is driven to create herself. She strains to develop the muscles necessary to hold up her head, push herself up, roll over, stand, and finally, to walk. She watches and listens in rapt concentration, absorbing the sounds and patterns around her. She works tirelessly (and without visible effort!) to master intelligible sounds so she can communicate her needs, her observations, and her feelings. What an incredible accomplishment -- a baby learning a complex language!

All this and so much more takes place in the home during a relatively short period of time those first two to three years. Parents provide love, sustenance, protection, and the verbal and emotional language from which the child learns; but motivation and direction for the amazing development of the young come from within.

Dr. Maria Montessori realized very early what is well understood today -- that it is the interplay of “nature and nurture” that makes a person who he or she is. We can neither shape the children like clay models according to what adults determine they should do and be, nor simply rely on all that they are born with to carry them along the path to a healthy and satisfying life.

The Montessori environment is a place where the child continues to build himself in new and exciting ways. Trained professionals provide a safe, stimulating, and nurturing environment that meets the need of the child to develop all the senses, large and small muscles, the mind, and the heart. The classroom contains a large variety of materials usually found only in a Montessori setting, carefully designed to sustain a child’s interest at various ages and stages.

The adult guides are the other critical piece of the environment. With understanding, warmth, humor, and consistency, the guides create an atmosphere where the child quickly develops the security and the confidence to “fly high.” Their training and experience enable the guides to know the children, to recognize their individual traits, and to give the right lessons and suggestions that open up the activities of the classroom to each child. There is freedom to choose -- within some broad limits -- and with time the child becomes ever more independent as well as more conscious in making choices and exercising responsibility.

Young children are quick to adopt social skills and habits of courtesy in the Montessori environment. The method is simple yet surprisingly effective. These skills are consistently modeled, and they are taught with the same effective techniques the guides use in all areas. In the mixed-age group of an established Montessori class, older children also model positive behavior to the younger ones.

The most important goal of the Montessori design is not so much “early learning” or an academic head start as it is to help develop qualities of personality and thinking that appear to correlate well with lifelong success and satisfaction in the broadest sense. It has become ever clearer from contemporary studies that among the most important of such qualities are strong intrinsic motivation, self-regulation, resourcefulness, and social skills.

We develop these traits when we function in an environment that promotes autonomy, mastery, and a sense of purpose. The Montessori method was designed to give the children just such an environment because Dr. Maria Montessori observed children and realized much of what modern research has now confirmed. Montessori was one among a number of scientists and educators who observed well and discovered key principles for helping children develop to their fullest potential; but she is among the few who developed a comprehensive program to put the principles into practice. That program and its methods have been refined through experience over many decades in America and worldwide.

Contemporary discoveries in neuroscience and developmental and cognitive psychology have given a powerful impetus to the Montessori approach. Both popular and scientific media have begun to create a greater awareness of these discoveries and the educational and child-rearing practices that are consistent with them. The number of Montessori programs is growing rapidly in diverse settings from rural Headstart programs to urban private preschools to public schools in inner city neighborhoods. Established programs often have long waiting lists. Montessori "alums" who've achieved prominence inventing new technologies and other cutting-edge creative ventures are being heard attributing their success to the good start they received from Montessori.

You can learn more about Montessori methods and principles from the websites and books such as these:
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