Authentic Montessori Teaching

Montessori Stepping Stones

We are a private school located in the metropolitan Detroit area. Our mission is to create a positive, success-based, Montessori environment in which students, parents, and staff thrive. By clicking on the titles below, you will learn more about the philosophy of Maria Montessori, learn about some famous Montessori alumni, gain clarity on the Truths and Myths around the Montessori Method.  Remember to request a tour of our facilities or if you need more information we are always available to answer any questions you may have.

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Philosophy

The Montessori method was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational theories on scientific observation of children’s learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children learn spontaneously, Dr. Montessori designed a special classroom environment in which children could freely choose from a multitude of developmentally appropriate lessons and materials. Now, over a century later, Montessori Stepping Stones carries on the scientifically proven methods and philosophy Dr. Montessori. Education at Montessori Stepping Stones attends to the total development of the child: social, emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual. The aim is to foster competent, responsible, adaptive citizens who are lifelong learners and problem solvers.

We believe that independent choice, along with authentic interest inspires children to pursue knowledge for intrinsic rewards, rather than for external inducements. Our Montessori learning environment combines freedom of choice with a structured, interdisciplinary academic framework. It is founded in respect and appreciation for the gifts of childhood. At Montessori Stepping Stones, children learn by doing and are lovers of purposeful work, spontaneously chosen and carried out with joy.

Famous Montessori Alumni
Ready to add your child to this list? Just a few of the many famous and successful people who were Montessori educated:

  • Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google.com, credit their Montessori education for much of their success
  • Jeff Bezos, financial analyst, founder of Amazon.com
  • Katherine Graham, owner-editor of the Washington Post
  • Julia Child, famous chef and author of many cookbooks
  • Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, editor and former First Lady
  • Anne Frank, Dutch diarist
  • Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia
  • George Clooney, Academy Award-winning actor
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Prize-winning novelist
  • Prince William and Prince Harry, English royal family
  • Berry Brazelton, noted pediatrician and author
  • Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs, famous rapper
  • Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Austrian painter and architect
  • Joshua Bell, American violinist, owner of Stradivarius violin
  • Helen Hunt, Academy Award-winning actress
  • David Blaine, magician
  • Melissa and Sarah Gilbert, actors

Others who support or endorse the Montessori method:

  • Alexander Graham Bell, helped start one of the first U.S. Montessori schools
  • Thomas Edison, also helped establish a Montessori school
  • Woodrow Wilson’s daughter trained as a Montessori teacher and had a Montessori classroom in the basement of the White House during her father’s presidency
  • Mister Rogers was a strong supporter of Montessori education
  • Jean Piaget, noted Swiss psychologist, made his first observations of children in a Montessori school. He was head of the Swiss Montessori for many years.
  • Erik Erikson, noted anthropologist and author, held a Montessori teaching certificate.
Truths and Myths

Myth #1 – Too Rigid OR Too Permissive The Montessori method provides children with freedom within limits and is based on respect and a true understanding of child development. If the freedom is used improperly or without respect, the limits are tightened and vice versa. Children need this limited freedom, rather than a stifling or unrestricted environment, in order to achieve optimum brain development. Myth #2 – It’s only for gifted children or students with special needs The myth that Montessori schools are too academic or not academic enough may stem from the fact that Dr. Maria Montessori first worked with children with special needs and was able to bring them up to an academic level equal to, and in some cases more advanced than, their peers who were considered “normal.” She did this through the scientific observation that Montessori teachers are still trained to execute today. We follow the child. This means that children are challenged in areas where they are advanced and given extra guidance in areas where they need help. Myth #3 – Too old fashioned or too progressive It is true that Dr. Maria Montessori started her first school over 100 years ago; however, her methods are anything but old fashioned. Her scientific observations proved that all children, regardless of economic status, ethnicity, or time in which they live, have the same natural behaviors which drive their learning. Using this data, Dr. Montessori designed a philosophy of education and materials that caters to these natural behaviors. The Montessori method is time-tested and proven by current scientific, neurological, and psychological research. It was innovative in the 1900s and remains so today. Myth #4 – Only good for preschool Every year that you can give your child a Montessori education is a gift that cannot be equaled. Montessori classrooms incorporate a multi-aged student body in three-year increments. In the three to six-year-old classroom,the kindergarten year is the culmination of all that the children have been preparing for during their preschool years. These children also have the advantage of being the oldest students in the room making them role models for the younger students, a job they take seriously and thoroughly enjoy. The same holds true in the elementary classroom of six to nine and nine to twelve-year-olds. Myth #5 – It stifles creativity Montessori education respects individuality and promotes creativity. Thinking creatively prepares students for lifelong learning, improves problem-solving skills, and gives them the tools they need in order to be flexible in this ever-changing world. The children are encouraged to think creatively during lessons and when doing follow-up work as well. In addition, self-correcting work improves problem-solving skills and self-esteem whether working alone or in a group. Myth #6 – Too much focus on teamwork OR too much focus on the individual The Montessori method promotes both independence and collaboration. Children learn to work with independent concentration through the carefully designed Montessori materials. At times, the classroom may even seem too quiet due to this peaceful environment and deep concentration. This is particularly true in the three to six-year-old classroom where children are not developmentally ready to work with others and choose to work parallel to their friends instead. The myth that a Montessori classroom is too noisy or there is too much teamwork may refer to the elementary classroom where students are in their sensitive period for collaboration. It is important that children of this age have opportunities to work on their own, as well as with others. Scientific research shows both (focus on the individual and teamwork) to be academically beneficial to students. Students at each stage of development are self-motivated, self-directed, and are capable of deep concentration. Montessori children learn how to learn, individually and collaboratively, giving them an enthusiasm for learning that lasts a lifetime. Myth #7 – It’s only for the wealthy Tuition is affordable at Montessori Stepping Stones. Please call us at 586-465-4260 or submit your information below to set up a tour. At that time we can discuss our tuition fees with you. Dr. Montessori designed her philosophy and materials scientifically, based on her observations that all children, regardless of economic status, have the same natural behavior, and children from all walks of life benefit from the methods she developed.

Conditions for Optimal Learning and Development
The following is a summary of the eight conditions that optimize learning and development as discussed in “Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius,” written by Dr. Angeline Lillard (2005). In this book, Dr. Lillard utilizes the most current scientific, neurological, and psychological research to prove that Dr. Maria Montessori’s method of education is the most optimal for learning.

  1. “Movement and cognition are closely entwined, and movement can enhance thinking and learning.”

Montessori classrooms allow for freedom of movement for the children and, in fact, encourage it. Rather that sitting at a stationary desk, our students are asked to move their bodies throughout the day. They go to the shelf, carry the material to their workspace, and manipulate the material, all of which facilitate the learning process.

  1. “Learning and well-being are improved when people have a sense of control over their lives.”

Montessori children embrace a sense of control and freedom of choice. Teachers are always observing, guiding, and exerting control when needed. This freedom within limits fosters self-discipline and confidence in our students of all ages.

  1. “People learn better when they are interested in what they are learning.”

Children at Montessori Stepping Stones are allowed to pursue their interests. The teachers make presentations more exciting to the students by utilizing their knowledge of individual interests. Movement, combined with the materials themselves, makes learning more interesting. The children are also inspired by the “Great Lessons,” “Key Lessons,” and stories.

  1. “Tying extrinsic rewards to an activity, like money for reading or high grades for tests, negatively impacts motivation to engage in that activity when the reward is withdrawn.”

The children in our classrooms are not given extrinsic rewards. Their progress is evaluated through observation and three period lessons. Students are allowed to feel their own sense of accomplishment rather than working to please the teacher. In addition, they are not broken down by negative reinforcements such as poor grades on tests. When the teacher sees that a student needs further assistance with a particular concept, she simply repeats the presentation or provides the student with a different material that is designed to teach the same concept. All of this is done while maintaining respect for the child and with consideration to his/her self-esteem. Students are motivated to continue learning until they have achieved mastery, rather than learning just enough to pass a test and then letting the information go.

  1. “Collaborative arrangements can be very conducive to learning.”

In an environment where collaborative learning is allowed, learning improves for all involved. The multi-age classrooms at Montessori Stepping Stones provide the older students with opportunities to be role models and to serve as teachers for the younger students. They truly enjoy this role, and both groups of children benefit greatly from the relationship. The elementary students are in the midst of their “social age.” These children benefit from collaborative learning in many different ways. The possibilities are endless when it comes to peer tutoring – a relationship in which both students learn more than they could by working alone. The elementary teacher might also assign a research project to a group of students, giving each individual a section to research. The students then put all of the information together to present to the class. This form of collaborative learning allows the group to learn more than each could on his/her own. In conjunction, sharing the research project with the class serves the class as a whole and the presenters as well.

  1. “Learning situated in meaningful contexts is often deeper and richer than learning in abstract contexts.”

Knowledge is not acquired by word alone in the Montessori classroom. Adhering to Maria Montessori’s methods – we never give anything to the child’s mind that we do not first give to the hand. The children are able to learn abstract ideas using concrete materials. They experience each and every concept instead of merely reading or being told about it. This brings learning to life!

  1. “Particular forms of adult interaction are associated with more optimal child outcomes.”

The staff of Montessori Stepping Stones has a warm and sensitive style. They give the children respect while making them feel safe in their environment. There is a good balance of warmth and control while the children’s freedom within limits is maintained.

  1. “Order in the environment is beneficial to children.”

Children function better in an environment that is orderly, not too noisy, and has predictable routines. We provide the children with the stability of routine while protecting their uninterrupted work cycle. One merely needs to observe our classrooms or take a tour to see the beautiful order of the environment. In Montessori classrooms, there is a balance of order, freedom, choice, and control. It is here that children flourish.

Resources
Books by Maria Montessori

  • Education for a New World
  • The Absorbent Mind
  • The Child, Society, and the World
  • The Discovery of the Child
  • The Montessori Method
  • The Secret of Childhood
  • The Advanced Montessori Method
  • The Advanced Montessori Method II
  • Education and Peace
  • Education for Human Development

Other Books

  • Infant/Toddler Program Signing Reference Book, By: Our own Montessori Stepping Stones staff
    • Ask a staff member for your copy today!
  • Montessori: A Modern Approach, By: Paula Polk Lillard
  • Montessori Today, By: Paula Polk Lillard
  • Montessori in the Classroom, By: Paula Polk Lillard
  • Montessori From the Start: The Child at Home, From Birth to Age Three, By: Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn L. Jessen
  • Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, By: Dr. Angeline Lillard
  • The Montessori Way, By: Tim Seldin and Paula Epstein
  • How to Raise an Amazing Child: The Montessori Way, By: Tim Seldin

Magazines

  • Tomorrow’s Child
  • Montessori Life

Websites

  • Montessori.org
  • Montessori-AMI.org
  • MichaelOlaf.net
  • AMShq.org

Request a Tour

We are always happy to provide a guided tour of our wonderful facilities. Our staff will answer any inquiry you may have regarding our school, and can provide an admissions application for you. Montessori Stepping Stones has over 31 years of providing excellent education and care.

Using the form below, please submit your request for a tour, or feel free to leave us a message with any questions or information that you feel would be helpful to us in serving your needs… Thank you!

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