What is Montessori?

What is Montessori?

For a quick explanation of Montessori, it is best to focus on three key components. Philosophy/ methodology, the physical environment and the mixed-age class. Of course, there is much, much more to learn. If you’d like to dig deeper into Montessori, please visit our blog page and click on any of the titles you find. If you prefer real-time conversation, please give us a call at 703-729-7200. We’re happy to speak with you anytime (honestly, we could talk about this stuff all day!).


Our philosophy leads us to view each child as an individual so that we may meet them where they are to help them reach where they want to be. We consider the whole child and offer guidance toward the development of emotional/social skills, physical and academic learning. Children are guided in a non-linear education, in which they will return to learned skills for refinement, adaptation and progression toward mastery. During the first six years of life, our priority is upon the development of executive functioning skills such as problem solving, inhibitory control, patience, which combine into emerging leadership. We look toward the adult each child will one day become as we assist them in finding their own interests, strengths and assume their unique places in the classroom community. As their world grows, we partner with each child so that the character traits and social/emotional skills they learn will stay with them long after they leave the classroom.

Physical Environment 

The room is specially designed to enable independent growth in each child. The materials in the room are scientifically designed, many of them created by Dr. Montessori, herself, to appeal to children as they move through sensitive periods of interest. Everything is child-sized and arranged in an organized way and placed at the child’s level. There is no “teacher’s desk” and the room is fully available for all students to explore. The space should feel like the rooms of a house more than a classroom. Here you’ll find a variety of plants and beautiful artwork, comfortable areas to relax, and furniture made of natural wood. As in the home, children have everything they need to feel a sense of ownership and to care for themselves, each other and the environment.

Mixed Age Grouping (Primary and up)

The three-year age span in the environment ensures that there is something for everyone. In fact, without this element of Montessori, the philosophy/methodology and physical environment will only go so far. This is mainly due to the fact that all children are considered teachers in their own way. The Montessori guide helps children to form a self-sustaining community where they can learn from one another. Older children model leadership while younger children are encouraged to find connections with their older peers. The materials fill a very wide range from simple to complex so that all children will find meaningful and personally relevant work.