Months ago, I was browsing Booksale when a lady asked me if I saw a book about the Montessori method in any of the stacks. I asked why and she said that she wanted to read up about it for her son, who was a special child. It was quite an interesting conversation because out of all the people she asked, it had to be me.
I studied in a Montessori school (that as far as I know is the first of the system in the Philippines) from pre-school (called Casa) up to high school. My Casa life seemed more like one huge playtime for me, and it wasn't until I was older did I realize why.
Maria Montessori was born in Italy, as far as I can remember, to an upper middle class family. She was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome La Sapienza Medical School, and was especially interested in trying to educate what many would consider the "mentally retarded" children of her hometown. Her methods were very successful, and she established a school for children called "Casa de Bambini," hence, why my pre-school life was known as my Casa years.
Maria Montessori believed that a child's brain from age 0-4 can absord anything and everything. She also believed that a child learns best when "work" is incorporated to play, and that children learn best when it is set to their own pace. My memories of my Casa years are still very vivid, and recall them with much fondness and amusement.
One of the more interesting things that I remember, this time from my elementary years, was that many of our lessons made use of visual aids. I suppose my knowledge about the parts of speech has something to do with memorizing their "symbols", and learning how to identify them in a sentence by drawing them above their corresponding word. Even math was fun, especially during the Casa years.
My school had two years in Casa: Junior and Senior. Elementary school had seven years (or at least, when I was studying), while High School had four. Most Montessori schools are usually just for early childhood education, but many branch out to high education. O.B. Montessori also has a college level, established shortly after I entered highschool.
If you want to learn more about the Montessori method and about Maria Montessori herself, you can check out these links:
Maria Montessori at Wikipedia
The Association Montessori Internationale
The International Montessori Index
American Montessori Society
And my school: O.B. Montessori Center, Inc.