"Montessori's work can be applied at any time, in any place through public agencies and be of incalculable help to parents, social workers, and family counselors", This is the emphasis of the work being done by Montessorian Monica Smith and child psychiatrist John Erhart, M.D. to serve children with special needs. 

The Montessori Intervention Programmes (MIP) fosters the integration of sound mental health beliefs with Montessori principles. The application of Montessori theory via the expertise of child psychiatry creates new, more effective approaches for children and their families who are affected by disorders of feeling, thinking and behaviour.

MIP's primary area of focus and expertise is enhancing self-development and well being of persons with emotional and developmental disabilities, particularly within the spectrum of Autism disorders.

They work with agencies that provide educational, vocational and therapeutic services to individuals with developmental disability and mental illness. Their consulting services include customised programme design, curriculum development, training workshops, and presentations.

MIP currently partners with Rochester Roots, (ROOTS) , and organisation with a mission is to "Empower citizens and communities, starting with youth, to create agency for their own sustainable wellbeing."

Rochester Roots (ROOTS) is a non-profit organisation. It focuses on Sustainability Education and Entrepreneurship, within twenty-six Sustainability Laboratories. The laboratories help to develop citizens and communities solve the "wicked problems" of sustainability facing them in the 21st Century. They envision youth as future leaders, and help them work alongside businesses, university faculty and peers for assistance in accomplishing their goals.

Rochester Roots looks to MIP for information and guidance in understanding and implementing the Montessori principles of human development. Their approach is to help the students learn to think and apply their knowledge, through respect and understanding of their developmental strengths and needs.

To see the scope and impact of ROOTS, visit the website


The Montessori Intervention Programs (MIP) is also in the process of establishing a partnership with Willow, a local shelter for battered women. The mission of Willow is to “prevent domestic violence and ensure every survivor has access to the services and supports needed along the journey to a safe and empowered life”. The most frequent residents consist of mothers who come straight from the hospital with their new born babies, but there are children there of all ages finding shelter from their battered lives.

MIP is currently recruiting Montessori teachers in the Rochester area to stop by for short visits, with the intent to model to mothers how to interact with their children, from infancy through young adolescents. 

The sole purpose is to help the mothers bond with their children, and to assist staff members in understanding the basic needs and characteristics of the stages of development of their clients. Applying the basic tenants of EsF, the Montessori teachers will refrain from judgement, preaching, or lecturing the mothers.  We will simply model how to communicate with, play with, and appreciate the children.

This project is in the initial planning stages, which includes Monica Smith visiting for brief periods of time to learn of the challenges the mothers and the staff face on a daily basis. She will confer with the teachers before hand to review what should be done, how to do it, and what materials we can carry with us for meaningful work for the children during our visits.

They will also incorporate some of the practices of Hands To Hearts International, a non-profit organisation introduced the Montessori community at the Dallas gathering of Educateurs sans Frontieres. This organisation has worked with mothers from all over the world, and has had a great impact on changing the rate of infant deaths. One of their tools is baby message, which changes the way mothers view their babies.

Willow is very excited about the possibilities, especially since Montessori teachers will not consider themselves as missionaries but as assistants to the families. MIP's knowledge of how to interact with children, how to keep things short and simple, and how to interact with cultures other than our own will prove valuable to the Willow organisation.


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