Maria Montessori, a 19th century physician and educator, believed that children begin life by learning intuitively and gradually mature into learning intellectually. Founded in 1976, Park View Montessori has held to the tenets of her philosophy by creating “hands on” goal directed prepared environments designed specifically for the varied age groups of children enrolled in the school. Her mission, like ours, is that children develop life skills that will not only benefit them through their adolescence but will also remain with them as adults.

A Montessori environment is a community of children usually of mixed ages led by an adult called a directress. This individual is not a teacher in the traditional sense because the children teach themselves. This person’s role is to create an environment conducive to meeting the academic and social needs of the children and to guide them through the sequence of learning materials.

Each environment at Park View is self-contained. This means that the children spend their day in the same room with the same adults. This creates security in the children and hastens the child’s transition from home to school.

Children are free to move in the environment. They work at unassigned tables or on rugs. They are encouraged to choose activities that they find interesting. Once this choice is made, the directress assesses if the child needs assistance. If this is deemed necessary, the directress will present or show the child how to use the material. Through repetition, the child eventually masters these exercises and discovers the wonderful inner satisfaction that comes with success. Children work at their own pace. Ability rather than age determines how quickly they move through the sequence of materials.

Park View does not duplicate the home environment. Materials that enhance the child development rather than customary toys line the ordered shelves. The children are expected to return these materials to the places from which they are taken. The term “work” is used synonymously with play to describe the varied materials and activities experienced by the children.