top of page

Montessori Philosophy
and Curriculum

Maria Montessori

maria montessori

Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator, developed her innovative ideas on teaching young children in the early part of the 20th century.  This philosophy emphasizes the individual child's initiative and independence, allowing him or her to progress through an orderly series of structured learning activities at his own pace. Special materials that emphasize the use of all the senses in learning are employed. 

Maria Montessori's philosophy derives from the notion of the child as an individual who is on a journey of self-discovery, creating the adult she is to

become.  An integral part of the child's journey is the desire to learn about her environment.  The child has what Montessori termed "an absorbent mind."  The child is capable of effortlessly acquiring knowledge of her surroundings.  The child's acquisition of language is a good example: she is not taught her native tongue through the conscious effort of an adult.  Given this "absorbent mind," it is easy to see why a stimulating environment can have such an impact on the child.  The child is naturally interested in her environment and has an intrinsic desire not only to learn about it but also to achieve competence in it.

The Five Areas of Montessori Learning

Montessori practical life work


Practical Life

The Practical Life area is essential for a strong Montessori educational foundation. In this area a child is learning control of movement (fine motor skills), concentration span, self-confidence, and a love of learning. The activities in Practical Life are made up of familiar objects that a child would naturally see in everyday life. The activities are designed and chosen so that the children feel comfortable and will be able to master the activity. The activities that are chosen fall into four main categories: care of self, control of movement, care of the environment, and grace and courtesy. The overall idea of these activities is not only to help children gain self-confidence in their working abilities, but to expose the children to fundamental activities that will build their concentration span and work with activities they will encounter through adulthood.



The Sensorial area of the classroom helps children become more aware of smaller details that are often overlooked. Each sensorial activity focuses on one important quality such as color, weight, shape, size, texture, sound or smell. Sensorial activities develop the senses of perception and discrimination for exploring and noticing small differences in patterns as well as fine motor function development in the hands. The sensorial area builds the child's concentration for a wider awakening of the senses and perception for distinguishing different qualities and patterns.

Montessori sensorial work
Montessori language work



The Language area of the Montessori classroom encourages development of early-literacy skills through the use of phonetic sounds. In the Language area children are exposed to various types of phonetic awareness activities to build a strong literary foundation. Montessori Language activities are designed to improve a child's vocabulary, listening skills for common sounds, and differentiating between objects and pictures. Language activities include learning the shapes and sounds of letters, practicing fine motor skills by writing, vocabulary development, matching words and pictures, reading development with word lists, practicing parts of grammar (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.), creating sentences and reading silently.



The Math area of the Montessori classroom encompasses the use of concrete materials for the recognition of numbers and the recognition of quantity as well. Through these activities, children learn exactly how much a symbolic number stands for (i.e. the number 5 means counting the correct number of objects to make the number 5). Mathematics activities are divided into six categories that include: counting and the decimal system, memory work, concrete abstraction, arithmetic tables and geometry. Children are introduced to more complex mathematical procedures and concepts as they are individually ready. Often times a child will complete a mathematical activity a few times until he feels ready to attempt a concept that is more difficult.

Montessori math work
Montessori cultural work



The Cultural area of a Montessori classroom includes presentations and age appropriate activities in the subjects of Zoology/Botany (includes differences and similarities in fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and the plant kingdom), Astronomy/Physical Science (fundamental concepts of astronomy, geology, physics, and chemistry), Geography/History (concepts of air, water, the earth, land formations; history format includes countries, flags and national costumes), and Music (singing, rhythms, creative music, and listening).


Peacemaking is an integral part of the Montessori philosophy and our mission here at Woodland Montessori School.  Our students learn, and practice each day, how to intentionally make good choices in how they care for (love) and respect themselves, others and the natural world so that they might proactively create a more peaceful community and world.

"Peace, according to Montessori philosophy, does not mean weakness, and it does not mean the simple absence of war.  It means inner harmony and strong individuality, a full participation in community life, responsiveness to the world, and stewardship of its resources.  It means respect for human dignity and diversity, and due diligence in protecting and supporting the rights of all.  It is to this definition of peace that we dedicate our most passionate efforts."  - American Montessori Society

Living Montessori: The Parent Perspective

AMS accredited member school

​The American Montessori Society (AMS) is the foremost advocate for quality Montessori education. AMS sets the high professional standards that inform Montessori education as practiced in AMS member schools and taught in AMS-affiliated teacher education programs. Refer to their website for all things Montessori!

bottom of page