What is Montessori?


Montessori is a child-centered educational approach that addresses the holistic development of children. At the center of its philosophy is the belief that all children naturally want to learn and, given the right environment and opportunities, can teach themselves. Thus, the focus of a Montessori school is to provide that perfect environment and give children well-designed tools so they can explore any number of topics on their own.

With gentle guidance from a well-trained Montessori teacher, children are allowed to develop at their own pace and to cultivate their natural love of learning in a non-competitive environment. Montessori students learn how to learn and, more importantly, develop self-motivation and self-discipline to meet challenges with grace and confidence.

To learn more about Montessori, please visit the websites for the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI).


Montessori vs. Traditional Education

The goal of both Montessori and traditional schools is the same: to provide learning experiences for the child. The biggest differences lie in the kind of learning experiences each school provides and the methods they use to accomplish this goal. Montessori educators believe these differences are important because they help shape how a child learns, his work habits and his future attitudes toward himself and the world around him.

Montessori Education

  1. 1.Emphasis on cognitive and social development

  2. 2.Teacher has unobtrusive role in classroom

  3. 3.Environment and method encourage self-discipline

  4. 4.Mainly individual instruction mixed-age grouping

  5. 5.Grouping encourages children to teach and help each other

  6. 6.Child chooses own work

  7. 7.Child discovers own concepts from self-teaching materials

  8. 8.Child sets own learning pace

  9. 9.Child spots own errors from feedback material

  10. 10.Child reinforces own learning by repetition of work and internal feelings of success

  11. 11.Organized program for learning care of self and environmental (e.g., polishing shoes, cleaning sink)

  12. 12.Child can work where he chooses, move around and talk at will (yet not disturb work of others); group work is voluntary

Traditional Education

  1. 1.Emphasis on social development

  2. 2.Teacher is center of classroom as "controller"

  3. 3.Teacher acts as primary enforcer of discipline

  4. 4.Group and individual instruction

  5. 5.Same-age grouping

  6. 6.Most teaching done by teacher

  7. 7.Curriculum structured for child; child is guided to concepts by teacher

  8. 8.Instruction pace usually set by group norm

  9. 9.If work is corrected, errors usually pointed out by teacher

  10. 10.Learning is reinforced externally by repetition and rewards

  11. 11.Less emphasis on self-care instruction

  12. 12.Child is usually assigned his own chair; encouraged to participate, sit still and listen during group lessons

What’s in a name?

The name “Children’s House” is often linked with Maria Montessori. In fact, she called her first school “casa dei bambini,” which is Italian for “children’s house.” In Montessori circles, “children’s house” represents a school that upholds Montessori’s educational philosophy and honors her groundbreaking work in the development of children to reach their greatest potential.

Children’s House of Old Town

38 Chatham Heights Road, Fredericksburg, VA

  1. (540)373-0093  •  Office hours: 8 am - 3 pm