Montessori Principles and Practices
A great social mission that will ensure the child justice, harmony, and love remains to be accomplished. And this great task must be the work of education, for this is the only way to build a new world and to bring peace.
—Dr. Maria Montessori
Access Montessori supports the development of Montessori education and services for children and families during the first critical years of development. The following set of principles and practices have been identified and form an essential foundation for the establishment of a Montessori school and programming. A commitment to these guidelines will assure Access Catalysts and their partners are prepared to serve the needs of children and families in diverse and underserved communities.
At its core, Montessori is informed by an understanding of four distinct stages of human development. During each of these stages the developmental needs and potential of children are unique. Access Montessori’s focus is on the support of children and families during the critical first stage of development, prenatal to age six.
When these principles are in place, a Montessori program can be developed to reflect and celebrate the unique characteristics and needs of the specific community in which it is located.
1. Statement of Mission, Vision, and Values
2. The Prepared Adult
- The programs for children and families must be led by a Montessori trained adult at each of the levels to be served (birth-to-three and three-to-six).
- Opportunities for on-going professional development will support the Montessori educators as they work with children and parents.
- The Montessori trained adults will collaborate with Montessori organizations to offer an orientation and foundation in Montessori philosophy and practice. The orientation will be offered to families, administrative and support staff, board members and other interested participants.
3. The Prepared Environment
- A cornerstone of Montessori education is the preparation of an environment suited to the characteristics and needs of children in the first stage of development.
- The children’s environments are designed to facilitate their development and are based on the principles of simplicity, beauty, order and independence.
- The Montessori environments are fully equipped with the essential Montessori materials and furnishings that correspond to the children’s development.
- In addition to the children’s environments, spaces will be provided that incorporate the families and community into the life of the program.
- The prepared environment of the entire program reflects the sense of simplicity, beauty, and order that defines the children’s spaces.
- A commons area will welcome all into the Montessori program – with designated areas for gathering, conferencing, meeting and resources.
- A commitment to empower parents with opportunities to serve, learn, and grow.
- Specific events and opportunities are created by the staff and Montessori educators to support and inform parents/guardians in order to best serve the children. Family gatherings, information events, and community celebrations will support the essential partnerships that develop between the families and the program.
- Families are invited to partner with the program to develop activities and resources that will best meet and reflect the unique characteristics of the community.
- The skills, talents and time of each family is respected and valued. Families are welcomed to participate in the life of the program.
- The schedules of activities will be established to meet the needs of the families served. Every effort is made to accommodate families so that they and their children can fully participate in the programming.
5. The Local Community
- Reflect the community in which it is located.
- Unifies and supports the interdependence, diversity, and empowerment of the families it serves.
- Act as a catalyst and source for community-based partnerships with local universities and community colleges, Montessori training centers, and private and public Montessori schools.
- Partner with other social service and health care professionals in order to provide support for a wide range of needs and services. Partnerships with social workers, infant health providers, health screening resources, counseling and other services will be established that will best serve the families.
- Support the professional development and communication staff and partner organizations and service providers.
- May become a resource for the larger community with introductions and information events on Montessori programs and philosophy, child development, parent support activities, children’s activities and a lending library for books and videos.
6. Montessori Outcomes
- Programming will be informed and assessed by the manifestation of the essential characteristics of the children in the first plane of development, as defined by Montessori practices.
- Observation rubrics will be used to document the progress and development of each child and of the Montessori programs.
7. Continuous Reflection and Improvement
- A commitment to continual reflection on the implemented practices and to the collection of data to demonstrate the effectiveness of the programs.
- Provide on-going training and support for teachers, parents, and staff to observe and to reflect, in an effort to provide tools for continual renewal and improvement.
- Be invited to collaborate to document and publish the data that documents the outcomes of the Montessori programs nationwide.
8. Financial Sustainability
- Program is based upon a solid financial foundation and has developed a long term plan for financial stability.
- Seek partners that will support its sustainability.
- Conduct an outreach campaign to enlist the involvement of the community within which it will be located.
- Determine its organizational structure to reflect the community and situation in which it is located — e.g. a non-profit corporation, a part of a public/charter school program, or a part of a local community center.
- On-going funding for birth-to three and four year olds will be determined. If applicable, the funding for the five year olds will be determined by the funding for kindergarten that is available in the district/charter school. If not state funded, on-going funding for the kindergarten level must also be determined.