Understanding Montessori Teaching

Dr. Maria Montessori is the founder of Montessori. Her long life was dedicated to improving the education of children, starting from the early observation that every child spontaneously wants to learn. By the time she passed away, her method was being taught successfully throughout the world.

Maria Montessori drew her ideas about how to handle and educate children from her observations of them at different stages in their development, and from their exposure to children of different cultures. There are six core beliefs that sum up the Montessori method: (1) All children have “absorbent ” minds; (2) all children pass through “sensitive” periods; (3) all children want to learn; (4) all children learn through play / work; (5) all children pass through stages of development; and (6) all children want to be independent.

Children learn differently than adults. They have what Dr. Montessori called the “absorbent mind”: one that unconsciously soaks up all information from the environment. This lasts for at least the first three to six years of a child’s life. The second phase is from 3 to 6 years of age, where the child’s mind is still absorbent, but now consciousness begins. The process of learning is active rather than passive. This is the perfect time when children should be in a Montessori environment.

The Montessori method is not just a curriculum, it is a way of life. The Montessori environment supports a child’s natural tendencies to discover his or her own personality, talents and needs, as well as respecting each child’s choices and interests. Since children learn through their hands, all of the works in the classroom are beautifully made. The environment supports freedom of movement. The children learn to take care of themselves as well as the environment.

The prepared environment addresses the academic and social needs of the children. The practical life area focuses on strengthening a child’s concentration, order, independence, and fine motor control. The sensorial area supports the senses. Children at this age love to learn about quantity, addition, subtraction, and geometry. Language is a huge part of the Montessori environment. Reading and writing should be taught at an early age. Geography is also something children love to learn about. The continents are a great way to teach them about different cultures. Art and Music are also very important for children this age.

We hope you have learned a little bit more about the teachings of Montessori. After being in a Montessori environment, your child will be confident and ready to move on to primary education.

The History of Chesterton Montessori School 


Chesterton Montessori School was started in 1983 and has been serving children in the community ever since. In 2019, the school purchased and renovated a historic church built in the late 1800s that sits in the middle of the community.  The school has recently relocated to a historic building in the heart of downtown Chesterton. This new location offers us the opportunity to expand deeper into the community in alignment with Montessori philosophy. It also allows us to utilize local resources such as the public library, parks, community gardens and more.

The programs Montessori programs grew during the three years at St. John’s and in June of 1986, Chesterton Montessori School began their first Elementary Class for 6-9 year-old’s. The school relocated to the Chesterton Montessori School present country setting on five acres. The first expansion that occurred for Chesterton Montessori School was in 1988, when we doubled the size of the building and added the Upper Elementary Program for 9-12 year old’s. The year 2000 brought our second expansion when the school once again doubled by 14,000 square feet that was added to the building. This addition houses both Lower and Upper Elementary, a computer lab, a music room and a multi-purpose room that serves as meeting room for our parent’s groups and more.

Montessori Philosophy

The Chesterton Montessori School philosophy is based on the educational philosophy and pedagogy of Maria Montessori. “Montessori is a system of education which encompasses both a philosophy of the child’s growth and a rationale for guiding such growth. It is based on the child’s developmental needs for freedom within limits and a carefully prepared environment that guarantees exposure to materials and experiences. Through our philosophy children develop intelligence as well as physical and psychological abilities. The Chesterton Montessori School Philosophy is designed to take full advantage of the self-motivation and unique abilities of children to develop their own capabilities. Each child needs adults to expose them to the possibilities in their life, but the child must direct their response to those possibilities.” Paula Polk Lillard

Each child is to be respected.
Children learn best in an atmosphere of learn and concern.
Children have sensitive periods- times of intense awareness and absorptive skills.
Freedom within limits brings about independence.
The directress, the prepared environment of materials, and the child compose a working triad.
The directress is more a facilitator than an active instructor, and serves as a link between the child and means of development.

Key Beliefs

There are six core beliefs that sum up the Montessori Method of education.

All children:
1. Have a natural desire to learn.
2. Learn through purposeful activity.
3. Have “absorbent” minds and learn everything they are given.
4. Pass through “sensitive periods” or times when learning comes more easily.
5. Educate themselves through freedom of choice.
6. Become independent, active learners when given a prepared environment.