Maria Montessori, Italy’s first female doctor, became interested in education while working with disadvantaged children in the course of her medical career. She discovered an unsuspected potential in these children after using instructional materials devised by two French doctors, Itard and Seguin. She elaborated these materials and developed new ones. The results she obtained with the disadvantaged children were so astonishing that she had them tested with typical children of the same age. Her children came out ahead and she realized that something was drastically wrong with the education of the typical child.
She gradually abandoned a successful medical practice and appointment as a Professor to the University of Rome and dedicated herself totally to the study of human development. The basis of her studies – as of most scientists – was observation. Maria observed for half a century or more – in Europe, America and Asia, children of all races, cultures and social environments. She found that children developed according to the same rules, manifesting the same needs and tendencies at the same time in their lives. From this extensive study of a complex educational philosophy and practice grew what has become known as the Montessori Method.
In 1907, Maria Montessori opened the first Casa dei Bambini in one of the poorest quarters of Rome with unprecedented results. In less than a year, fifty children from illiterate families between the ages of three and six blossomed to become courteous, self-assured little people who were working independently, with cheerful self-discipline. They had also begun to read and write spontaneously which caught the public eye. These children became known throughout the world as Maria Montessori’s “Miracle Children."
Since then, the Montessori method of education has been advocated by Montessori societies in Europe, Asia, North and South America, Australia and Africa. In addition, her educational ideas have greatly impacted traditional education. Montessori schools around the world have educated hundreds of thousands of children in the past hundred years. In 1929 Maria and her son Mario founded the Association Montessori Internationale. One of the main functions of the A.M.I. has been to perpetuate Montessori education following Maria Montessori’s guidelines, maintaining her philosophy without violating its integrity. To this end, A.M.I. has the pedagogical guidance of Training Centers around the world.
In a Montessori class, children engage in interactive learning in an environment carefully prepared by an educator trained to work with children of specific age groups.In a non-graded class of mixed ages, children are given lessons with materials designed by Dr. Maria Montessori, choosing their activities and making discoveries about language, mathematics, geography, geometry, art, and music.The highly social atmosphere of this environment stems from a unique combination of freedom and structure founded on respect. A Montessori education fosters the fullest development of a child’s potential and provides a foundation for a life of joyful and successful learning.
Montessori education is driven by an ambitious aim: To aid the child's development into a complete adult human being, comfortable with himself, with his society and with humanity as a whole.
Peregrine House School is one of only two schools in British Columbia who is a member of Montessori Quality Assurance.