What is Montessori

What is Montessori

Developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, educator and innovator, Montessori is a child-centered educational approach based on nurturing and cultivating a child’s natural desire to learn.With a focus on individual development, all aspects of the child are taken into consideration – academically, emotionally, socially and morally – allowing the whole personality to take shape, not just the intellect. This means we strive to create not only good students, but good people too.The results speak for themselves. An analysis of academic and social scores showed that Montessori students performed better on standardized tests, engaged in more positive interaction and proved more advanced social cognition and executive control. When you choose Montessori, you give your child an exceptional education that prepares them for endless possibilities for success in the classroom and beyond.

The hallmark of a Montessori education is based on nurturing and cultivating the child’s natural desire to learn by:

  • Creating student-centered learning environments that are prepared, adaptive and responsive to student needs
  • Providing hands-on concrete experiences with specifically-designed Montessori materials
  • Encouraging exploration, problem solving and creative reasoning as part of the learning process
  • Supporting the development of the whole child, socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically
  • Fostering intrinsic motivation by focusing on process rather than product
  • Offering multi-aged groupings and social settings as a community within each classroom
  • Focusing on cooperation, collaboration and mutual respect
  • Promoting “freedom within limits” by providing opportunities for self-directed choices within an ordered and structured framework
  • Nurturing independence, leadership, responsibility and self-reliance
  • Comparisons of Montessori Education with Traditional Education

Unique Aspects of a Montessori Education

A Montessori education represents the leading edge of progressive ideas in education. With our commitment to an authentic Montessori approach, RMS provides a unique environment for children from their toddler years to middle school. Here are important ways we are different from a conventional school.

Multi-Age Classrooms

Our toddler classrooms include children from eighteen months to two years old. Our primary level is for children ages three, four, and five (the third year is the kindergarten year in a conventional classroom). Lower elementary includes grades one to three, upper elementary is grades four to six, and our middle school is grades seven and eight. The benefits of our multi-age classrooms are apparent throughout our community as students of all ages treat each other with kindness and understanding. In the classroom, younger children learn academic concepts and social skills from our older students, while the older students learn leadership and mentorship skills by working with their younger classmates. Students learn patience and compassion for each other and enjoy having friendships with children of different ages. Our teachers have the advantage of being with their students for three years, developing close bonds and a deep awareness of the social, emotional, and academic development of each child.

A Celebration of Diversity

The display of international flags at our school entrance symbolizes our celebration of the international community at Richmond Montessori School. Our staff and students come to RMS from all over the world, and we are committed to the inclusion and appreciation of our diverse population of families. Respect, collaboration, and community are inherent in the Montessori philosophy. With this foundation, we value how diversity strengthens our school and helps our students become more thoughtful, compassionate, and responsible citizens.

The Prepared Environment

The Montessori classroom is warm, inviting and aesthetically pleasing.

Montessori classrooms are designed to encourage student independence. Engaging, beautiful materials inspire our students as they progress from concrete, hands-on learning to abstract concepts. In our child-focused environment, teachers introduce lessons when students are ready for them, then the children proceed at their own pace. Students have the freedom to choose where to work, be it at tables or on mats on the floor, and have the benefit of uninterrupted time to complete their lessons.

Freedom Within Limits

The Montessori classroom balances freedom with responsibility.

Children in a Montessori classroom have the freedom to make choices about what they learn and when under the careful guidance of their teachers. This helps them develop their decision-making skills and builds their confidence. Teachers allow for student independence while incorporating logical limits for students in alignment with learning objectives. Our teachers observe their students carefully and support their progress as they learn more complicated concepts. Vital to our Montessori philosophy is the concept of following the child—their interests and choices inform their progress in the classroom. 

Accreditation Matters

“Montessori” is a term that is used broadly in the public domain. It is often applied as an adjective to describe qualities that a school has incorporated such as learning centers, freedom of choice and hands-on activities. The Montessori form of education is not trademarked, copyrighted or franchised. The only way a parent can ensure that their child is receiving an authentic Montessori education is through enrollment in an accredited school.

Richmond Montessori School is fully accredited by two external organizations – the American Montessori Society and Virginia Association of Independent Schools.These agencies establish and oversee standards of excellence for Montessori and independent schools. Accreditation is a voluntary and rigorous process that demonstrates an unparalleled level of excellence in the implementation of Montessori education and continuous improvement.

Many schools indicate their level of involvement (full, associate, satellite, initiate, et. al.) with AMS and VAIS. But unless the school is fully accredited, there is no guarantee that the school practices the authentic educational philosophy and practices of Maria Montessori, nor that it demonstrates compliance with the rigorous standards that have been established by AMS or VAIS.

Richmond Montessori School has been accredited by AMS since 1991. It achieved VAIS accreditation in 2002. Richmond Montessori School is one of only four AMS accredited schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia; it is one of two schools with dual AMS/VAIS accreditation. Richmond Montessori School is the only Montessori school in the Richmond area and surrounding counties that is accredited.