The child's development follows a path of successive stages of independence, and our knowledge of this must guide us in our behaviour towards him. We have to help the child to act, will and think for himself. This is the art of serving the spirit, an art which can be practised to perfection only when working among children."
Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Absorbent Mind'
In January 1907, she opened her first class named Casa dei Bambini (which translates to Children's House) in one of the poorest areas in Rome. Initially, there were 50 poor children in her care. Dr. Montessori let the children 'lead' the way rather than instructing them and found that in this manner, the children enjoyed their learning in a very different fundamental manner than most teaching situations.
In 1919 Dr. Montessori held her first training course in England. The course was limited to 250 people but over 2,000 applied. After that, she went every second year to London to hold similar courses and from 1920 to 1930, she travelled to Austria, Germany, Holland and Italy.
In 1929 Dr. Montessori created the Association Montessori Internationale to give structure to her work, and to ensure that it would be perpetuated after her death in accordance with her pedagogical, psychological and practical guidelines.
Today, there are over 5,000 private Montessori schools and over 200 public school Montessori programs in North America.