Why Montessori Education?

Metropolitan Montessori School (MMS) is guided by the philosophy of Maria Montessori, an Italian physician who opened her first school in 1907. Her approach to learning emphasized the social and emotional development of children as well as the acquisition of knowledge and skills. She created mixed-aged environments where children learned from hands-on experience, developing independence, respect for other and responsible work habits. More than 100 years later, thousands of schools around the world call themselves “Montessori” schools and have interpreted Maria Montessori’s ideas in different ways.

MMS is the only accredited Montessori school in Manhattan with an elementary program. The school is accredited by both the American Montessori Society and the New York State Association of Independent Schools, two organizations that undertake extensive evaluations of mission, governance and curriculum. The school is known for its excellent academic program, sending its sixth grade graduates to highly selective schools in New York City. In 2013, the school received a “Blackboard” award for its outstanding nursery and Elementary program. MMS also is affiliated with the Independent School Admission Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY) and the Parents League of New York. The ISAAGNY website offers information to parents about how to manage the admissions process for its member independent schools. The Parents League offers many programs and resources about parenting and education in the city.

MMS uses many classic Montessori materials and teaching approaches in its Early Childhood and Elementary program as well as other established methodologies such as Singapore Math and the literacy curriculum developed by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. The school also offers foreign language, choral music, violin, drama, visual art and physical education.

Montessori in Primary

The Primary classrooms serve ages 3 through 6. In the first two years, the children explore the following areas:

  • Practical life (polishing, pouring, sweeping, cutting, chopping vegetables, washing, fastening zippers, buttons, etc.)
  • Sensorial awareness (activities that encourage the child to recognize and differentiate colors, weights, shapes, textures, sizes, sounds and smells)
  • Mathematics (counting and number concepts)
  • Language (activities focusing on phonics and phonemic awareness)
  • Cultural themes (including celebrations from other countries, artists, historical figures)
  • Nature

In kindergarten, children participate in the mixed-age Primary classrooms in the morning, and in the afternoon, break into kindergarten groups for reading, writing and group-based work in preparation for first grade. The kindergarteners begin foreign language instruction, with exposure to both French and Spanish; visit the art room for art class; begin violin instruction with the strings teacher; work with the school’s librarian and literacy and math coaches; and take day-long trips to Black Rock Forest as well as field trips to New York cultural institutions.

Montessori in Elementary

In Lower Elementary (ages 6 to 9), concrete materials are used to explain concepts in math, geometry, history, geography, nature and science. Students work collaboratively and independently, and they have numerous opportunities to explore the world outside the classroom during field trips to New York City landmarks and Black Rock Forest. Upper Elementary (ages 9-12) preserves the goals and values of the Montessori philosophy but prepares students for selective ongoing New York City schools. Students are provided with opportunities for self-directed study, in-depth analysis, small group work, peer teaching  and individual conferences/goal setting with teachers. They also have blocks of uninterrupted work time, daily homework assignments, tests and grades. Many of the classes are taught as seminars, emphasizing discussion and debate. Technology is incorporated into their studies, and is used for research, communication and creative expression.

To learn more about the principles underlying MMS’ educational program, we recommend the following books.

  • The Absorbent Mind  by Maria Montessori
  • Montessori Today by Paula Lillard
  • Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard
  • Understanding Montessori: A Guide for Parents by Maren Schmidt
  • Montessori Madness: A Parent to Parent Argument by Trevor Eissler
  • Montessori From the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen
  • Montessori—A Modern Approach by Paula Polk Lillard

Other books that support our educational philosophy include:

  • The Essential Conversation by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot
  • Mindset by Carol S. Dweck
  • How Children Succeed by Paul Tough
  • Teach Your Children Well by Madeline Levine

To learn more about the Metropolitan Montessori community, we invite you to follow us on Facebook.

"The Joy of Discovery"

Will Wright, creator of the SimCity video games, explained to The New Yorker in 2006 how his Montessori education influenced him. “Montessori taught me the joy of discovery …  It showed you can become interested in pretty complex theories, like Pythagorean theory, say, by playing with blocks. It’s all about learning on your terms, rather than a teacher explaining stuff to you. SimCity comes right out of Montessori—if you give people this model for building cities, they will abstract from it principles of urban design.”