The Parkside Montessori School
53 Norwood Avenue
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043
Parkside adheres to the philosophy pioneered by Maria Montessori in the early 20th century. Montessori was Italy’s first female physician. She based her philosophy on her extensive scientific observation of the behavior of young children.
Dr. Montessori’s theory of education is rooted in the idea that children learn best in a social environment that respects and supports their individual personalities and their unique modes of development. It is a sensori-motor approach with an emphasis on self-directed, non-competitive learning.
Dr. Maria Montessori discovered the studies of Jean Itard and Edouard Seguin. They were two French doctors who believed in the education of deviated children. Maria Montessori shared the conviction that medicine was not the answer, but rather education. She shared this idea at an 1899 pedagogical congress. As a result she became the directress of an Orthophrenic clinic (school for the mentally ill) in 1899-1901. Dr. Maria Montessori worked tirelessly observing children, analyzing results and developing new materials. Her knowledge of children mostly originated form this 2 years of closely observing children.
Montessori’s work with these children was so successful that her children eventually passed a public examination given to ‘normal children’. It bothered her “how these normal children in ordinary schools could have been equalled in intelligence by her ill students.”
In 1901 she gave up her work in the clinic and studied philosophical education and pedagogical pathology. She was also a lecturer in the University of Rome in 1904. At this period she also continued her study of Itard and Seguin’s work. In a lecture she talked about schools which had two main points. One was that teachers should help rather than judge. She believed the teacher should be there to direct, guide and help children to learn with the attitude of love and acceptance. Secondly, she believed that true mental work is not exhausting but gives nourishment for the soul. Montessori believed in the ‘secret of childhood’ that all are born with potentials and the adult should help that potential. The adult is there to create the environment to stimulate the child and fulfil their needs.
Montessori believed that children can create themselves through purposeful activity and that they possess unusual cognitive ability and sensitivity for absorbing from their environment.
"The most important period of life is the first one, the period from birth to age six, for that is the time when man's intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed."
"Free the child's potential, and you will transform him into the world.”
"Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
Dr. Maria Montessori
“The attention of little children is continually being drawn to one thing or other on their walks. They stop to observe and admire things they see. They are like explorers. This is a preparation for the adaptation to the environment. ”
“A child can only acquire the words he hears spoken around him. This is not teaching but absorption. The child is, by nature, hungry for words; he loves strange, long words like the names of dinosaurs and constellations. He takes in all these words without understanding their meaning, as his mind is still taking language in by a process of unconscious absorption. ”
“There is not just a need for happier schools, schools where the children are free to do as they like or schools where they use certain materials: education today needs reform. If education is to prepare man for the present, and the immediate future, he will need a new orientation towards the environment. ”
“Language is one of the most striking things he absorbs – one of the characteristics of man – but later he absorbs everything. He becomes a living representative of living humanity. ”
The 1946 London Lectures