The Montessori method of education, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, is a child-centered, developmentally-based approach to education. The philosophy views the child as someone eager for knowledge who will initiate learning in a supportive, stimulating, and thoughtfully-prepared learning environment. The Montessori approach values the development of the whole child – the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development. Maria Montessori believed that finding one’s place in the world, finding work that is meaningful and fulfilling, and developing the inner peace and depth of soul that allows one to love are the most important goals in life. Today, Montessori schools like Shining Stars have as their foundation her deep respect for children as unique individuals and her profound concern for their social and emotional development. Maria Montessori believed in children’s inherent desire to learn. Montessori classrooms include multi-age groupings which foster collaboration, and children working collaboratively in groupsor independently. The enticing materials invite hands-on exploration, and children move about the room as they find their best place to work. Real-life lessons provide authentic learning, uninterrupted blocks of work time encourage deep concentration, and the freedom to choose work allows students to own their learning. Montessori teachers (called ‘Guides’ at Shining Stars) carefully prepare the classroom environment to foster and encourage curiosity, independence, and freedom within limits, and children can guide themselves through this environment, making use of the lessons offered to develop themselves and interacting with the teacher for guidance and support as needed. Every day, students practice activities in math, language, science, history, geography, and practical life skills. Every day, children and adults honor kindness, compassion, mutual respect, and peace. By encouraging students to develop the independence and skills necessary to be self-sufficient in their classrooms, we prepare them to venture into the biggest classroom of all. They leave with a true love of learning, standing on an academic and social foundation that will support them throughout their lives.