Montessori Primer: Applying Montessori Principles at Home, Part 4

Today, we conclude our look at 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home, as explored in Angeline Lillard’s book, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. In our last three posts, we discussed Movement and Cognition, Interest, Choice, Avoidance of Extrinsic Rewards, and Interaction with and Learning from Peers. Today we conclude by examining the final three principles, Learning in Context, Communication, and Order the Environment and Mind.

Learning in Context

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” – Maria Montessori

Create a meal from scratch, or make ice cream from a recipe
Visit a museum – bring a sketch pad and colored pencils and have the child create their own art
Spend time in the garden studying bugs, flowers, and listening to the sounds of peace and quiet
Allow your child to have their own shopping list at the grocery store – have them record their prices and add their total


“If we could say, ‘We are respectful and courteous in our dealing with children, we treat them as we should like to be treated ourselves,’’ we should have mastered a great educational principle and be setting an example of good education.” – Maria Montessori

Have family meetings – discuss family expectations regarding behavior and academics
Create chore lists together where each person chooses their assigned chore(s)
Create an annual family newsletter
Involve your child in rearranging their bedroom or playroom
Do things you wouldn’t normally do or do not like to do – children need to see that you are flexible and willing to do new things or do things you do not like to do

Order the Environment and Mind

“The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult.” – Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood, 1966

Adopt the “ten minute tidy” to end of the day
Keep the environment clear of clutter
Have child’s belongings displayed on low shelves and not in toy boxes

Join us on Wednesday as we continue our Montessori primer!

Montessori Primer: Applying Montessori Principles at Home, Part 3

Today, we continue our look at 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home, as explored in Angeline Lillard’s book, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. In our last two posts, we discussed Movement and Cognition, followed by Interest and Choice; today we move on to examine Avoidance of Extrinsic Rewards and Interaction with and Learning from Peers.

Avoidance of Extrinsic Rewards

“The prize and the punishment are incentives towards unnatural of forced effort, and therefore we certainly cannot speak of the natural development of the child in connection with them.” (Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method, 1912)

Challenge children to reach goals
Praise effort in completing a task. Do not over praise; authenticity is important.
Ask the child, “How do you feel about accomplishing…?”

Interaction with and Learning from Peers

“There is a great sense of community within the Montessori classroom, where children of differing ages work together in an atmosphere of cooperation rather than competitiveness. There is respect for the environment and for the individuals within it, which comes through experience of freedom within the community.” (Maria Montessori, The Essential Montessori, 1986)

Host playdates with friends from school
Schedule outings with other families and observe how the children play together
Host family game nights with another family

Join us on Monday as we continue our exploration of the 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home!

Montessori Primer: Applying Montessori Principles at Home, Part 2

Today, we continue our look at 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home, as explored in Angeline Lillard’s book, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. In our last post, we began with Movement and Cognition; today we move on to examine Interest and Choice.


“An interesting piece of work, freely chosen, which has the virtue of inducing concentration rather than fatigue, adds to the child’s energies and mental capacities, and leads him to self-mastery.” (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, 1995)

Have different genres of books readily available in basket or on low shelf
Play educational board games focused on language or math skills
Take mini field trips to pet store after researching an animal
Write letters to family members in other areas of the world
Have a basket of interesting pictures available during dinner time and discuss the pictures together
Allow children quiet time to think and develop their own interests


“No one can be free unless he is independent. Therefore, the first active manifestations of the child’s individual liberty must be so guided that through this activity he may arrive at independence.” (Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method, 1912)

Place a few choice shirts, bottoms, socks, and underwear in drawers the child can reach and allow the child to choose his own clothing
Place a basket in the refrigerator with snack items from which your child may choose
Allow your child to set the table for meals by making place settings (plates, bowls, utensils, cups) available in a low cabinet
Allow your child to serve himself food (small pitchers make serving himself easier)

Join us on Friday as we continue our exploration of the 8 principles of Montessori education and how they can be applied in the home!

Montessori Primer: Principles of a Montessori Classroom (and How They Can Be Applied at Home)

As we’ve discussed in earlier posts, at its core, Montessori philosophy celebrates and nurtures each child’s authentic nature, his part in a bigger picture, and his intrinsic desire to learn. Montessorians view Montessori philosophy as a way of life; carried throughout all facets of the child’s life. So if Montessori isn’t just something that happens at school, how can it be practiced at home?

To help build a bridge from home to school, let’s begin with a look at 8 principles of Montessori education. In Angeline Lillard’s book, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, she discusses Montessori’s holistic approach to educating the child. Today, we begin with the first principle of a Montessori classroom, as explored in Lillard’s research on Montessori education, Montessori’s thoughts, and ideas for the home.

Movement and Cognition

“The child needs activity concentrated on some task that requires movement of the hands, guided by the intellect.” (The Science Behind the Genius, 1966)

Tips for the Home:

Dance to music in the house – count the beats
Ride bikes together
Play at the local park
Count the number of steps up to the slide
Play hopscotch
Play I-Spy
Explore unstructured art and crafts
Work with mazes
Try intricate coloring patterns
Play together with wooden blocks and games: pattern games, Legos, etc.
Develop structures, pulleys, vehicles
Allow your child alone-time to explore his own creativity

Montessori Primer: Core Philosophies, Part 2 – The Guide

Today, we continue our exploration of the core philosophies of the Montessori classroom by looking at philosophies embodied in the Montessori guide.

It is the transformation of the adult that is the underlying theme of a Montessori teacher, where as a Montessorian is first and foremost an observer, exemplar and protector of the child’s right to learn. Parents likewise can adopt these philosophies in their approach at home, creating an environment consistent with the classroom.

Core Philosophies of A Montessorian

Be an Observer

To learn from the child, one must observe the child. Observation is an art that must be a highly developed skill in Montessorians. Observing a child is a learned art. The teacher needs to be able to anticipate the needs of a child and act on this need.

Be an Exemplar for the Child

The adult needs to “show” rather then “tell.” It is important for the Montessorian to carefully study their demeanor from which the children will derive behavioral clues. Teachers learn to move quietly, work carefully and give the child a chance to follow an example that is geared to the child’s capability and not to the adult’s expectations.

Be the Protector of the Child’s Right to Learn

A Montessorian recognizes that children learn at their own pace, with varied activities, which are both direct and indirect. If a child is to increase, the adult must decrease. The adult must have experienced a transformation in order for a child’s learning to take place.

For more information on this topic, see “What Makes a Montessorian?” by Nancy McCormick Rambusch, EdD (Montessori Life magazine, Summer 2013 Volume 25 No. 2).

Montessori Primer: Core Philosophies, Part 1

We teachers can only help the work going on, as servants wait upon a master. We then become witnesses to the development of the human soul; the emergence of the New Man who will no longer be the victim of events but, thanks to his clarity of vision, will become able to direct and to mold the future of mankind.
Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, 1949

Wow! That’s quite a profound statement. To implement this Montessori principle requires setting aside traditional viewpoints on childrearing and adopting a more Montessori way of raising children. Implementing Montessori principles and practices in the home provides benefits for both the child and the parent. Children reap the rewards when, at home, parents are consistent in their expectations and styles of parenting. In addition, children thrive when there is consistency between the home and school.

Here are two Montessori core philosophies parents can implement at home – these best practices will help you understand and appreciate why children thrive in a Montessori classroom.

Recognize Your Child’s Authentic Nature

We are challenged with raising children who are emotionally, socially and spiritually healthy – achieving these goals requires knowing who your child truly is. When parents understand the personality and temperament of their children, children feel their inherent worth. With this understanding, parents are better equipped to aid a child’s development. The child, with the appropriate support, will begin saying, “I can do it myself,” more often. This self-assurance allows the child to become a teen who does not bend to peer pressure, and an adult who has a healthy self-image and owns his intrinsic goodness.

Help Your Child See Himself As Part of a Bigger Picture

In Montessori terms, this vision is termed unveiling the authentic child. Montessori believed it was important for humans to understand the interconnectedness of all living things. Children learn this truth by discovering their own personal interests and capabilities. It is important to know that children’s behavior is directly related to their basic needs. When a child’s basic needs are met, their learning can occur naturally with joyful determination. Children are wired for success. Maria Montessori uses the term “normalization” to describe the stage when a child has internalized the freedom to choose work, work independently, and follow the rules. A transformation takes place within the child. He becomes enthusiastic, focused, and self-disciplined. Maria Montessori warns in her writings that parents should not do for a child what the child can do for himself, as this occurrence communicates to the child that that he is incapable and weak. Preparing an environment that is both ordered and interesting allows the child to discover his unique interests.

Join us Friday as we continue our Montessori Primer with Core Philosophies, Part 2!

A Montessori Primer

Today, we launch a new series designed to help parents gain a big-picture understanding of the guiding philosophies and principles of the Montessori classroom, how those philosophies and principles can be applied at home, and how they impact the classroom experience on a day-to-day basis, at each level.

Over the next few weeks, our Montessori Primer will feature posts by faculty and staff that will walk through three sections in-depth:

Montessori Core Philosophies

8 Principles of a Montessori Classroom (and How You Can Apply Them at Home)

How the 8 Principles Shape the Classroom Experience

Join us this Wednesday as we begin by exploring two core philosophies of the Montessori classroom.

Philosophy of a Montessori Classroom

The following post is by Jessica Stellato, Lower Elementary Lead in the Galaxy Room at MASS. This month, Jessica is sharing insight into various Montessori classroom materials, terms, and ideas. Today, she shares a big-picture look at the philosophy behind the Montessori classroom experience.

Often parents wonder:

What is Montessori?
What is my child going to learn in a Montessori classroom?
Is there really a difference between a traditional classroom versus a Montessori classroom?

I hope to give you a concise explanation of what an authentic Montessori program should entail for your child.

The Montessori method and philosophy is based on teaching to the whole child and encouraging independence beginning at a very early age. Children want to do for themselves. Maria Montessori stated, “Do not do for the child for what they can do for themselves.” Montessori students learn to think critically, work collaboratively, and act boldly – a skill set needed for the 21st century.

An authentic Montessori classroom will have a certified Guide (teacher) and an assistant. Some classes may have two certified Guides. A typical class will have mixed ages: Toddler 0-3 years, Primary 3-6 years, Lower Elementary 6-9 years, Upper Elementary 9-12 years (some schools join Lower and Upper, making it a 6-12 year old classroom), and Middle School 12-14 years. There are also a few Montessori High Schools, with students ranging from 14-18 years old.

A Montessori child will experience an uninterrupted work cycle, preferably 3 hours long in the morning. This is a sacred and cherished time in the classroom. The children have freedom of movement and choice; however, these choices are within limits.

Throughout the Montessori school experience, each child is valued as a unique individual, with respect of the child being of great importance. Beginning at an early age, Montessori students develop order, coordination, concentration, and independence to think for themselves. Students are part of a close community of caring teachers and classmates. Students are continually encouraged to learn through their personal interests, creating an individual who loves to learn throughout his life. In addition, self-correction and self-assessment are an integral part of a Montessori classroom, allowing the child to know that it is acceptable to make mistakes and learn from them. This approach not only not eliminates a fear of failure, but builds self-esteem, which is vital in the development of a child.

If you are interested in learning more about the Montessori philosophy, please visit the American Montessori Society online or the Montessori Education page on Wikipedia.

We Speak Montessori

The following post is by Jessica Stellato, Lower Elementary Lead in the Galaxy Room at MASS. In this series, Jessica explores common Montessori classroom terminology.

Shortly after enrolling in a Montessori program, you will hear words like “work.” Someone not familiar with this lexicon may view the word “work” as having a negative connotation, but in the Montessori environment “work” means children learning through purposeful activity. To help parents better understand what’s being described in the classroom, we want to introduce to you a few common terms.

Analysis of Movement
Analysis of Movement is a technique by which Montessori teachers break down tasks into parts and demonstrate each step in isolation. The action becomes so deliberate and engaging that the child understands the sequence of steps. The opportunity for mastery is increased when the child is free to follow each step.

In the Montessori environment, Concentration is defined as deep engagement on a single task. As Maria Montessori stated, “The first six years of life are the most powerful time for developing concentration and attention.”

Control of Error
Montessori materials are designed so a child receives instant feedback as he works, allowing him to recognize, correct, and learn from his mistakes without adult assistance. Putting control of an activity in the child’s hands strengthens his self esteem, self-motivation, and the opportunity for learning learning. 

In this video of a student working with the trinomial cube, Analysis of Movement, Concentration, and Control of Error are all demonstrated. Analysis of Movement is seen as the child picks up each piece purposefully, coordinating her movements to exact the prism’s position. Concentration abounds as she learns to order the pieces and visualizes the prisms becoming one. Control of Error is demonstrated as the child places the prisms in the box – the prisms will only fit in the box if assembled correctly.

The most important part of the work process demonstrated in this video is the sense of satisfaction for a job well done. Montessori students enjoy work that tests their abilities.

Join us for more Montessori Speak soon!

An Exploration of Montessori Materials

The following post is by Jessica Stellato, Lower Elementary Lead in the Galaxy Room at MASS. This month, Jessica will profile various Montessori classroom materials, beginning with an overview of the qualities all Montessori materials share, and providing a detailed description of a specific material each week.

Montessori Materials:

  • Are Appealingly Designed: created using a wide range of beautiful materials and textures
  • Are Ingenuous: teach more than one skill and have a built-in “control of error”
  • Invite Activity: provide opportunities to look, listen, smell, touch, taste and move the body

Maria Montessori believed moving and learning were inseparable. Our children in Primary enter into the stage of “Inviting Discovery.” The 3-6 age group is the time period when the child learns through hands-on experiences that support active learning and discovery. As the child completes this stage of development, they move into the “Grow with the Child” stage. These lessons are more complex and the difficulty increases as the child advances.

For more information, please visit the American Montessori Society website.

Material of the week: Golden Beads

The Golden Beads are the heart of Montessori math. They are essential for teaching the decimal system to students. The Golden Beads give students a real, concrete experience of the decimal system, place value, and operations. They are found in our programs from Primary through Upper Elementary. Students in the Primary begin their lessons with counting, place value, and concrete operations (additon, subtraction, multiplication, and division). The students who have internalized the color dynamics of the math materials move on to more difficult abstract levels of math in the Elementary levels. Students at the Elementary level refine their math facts, dynamic operations, and apply their math concepts in real life opportunities.

The material consists of glass beads in various configurations: units are individual beads, ten units connected together with wire to create a ten bar, 10 ten bars wired together to create the hundred square, and 10 hundred squares carefully bound together to create the thousand cube. From a sensorial aspect, the weight difference shows the emergent learner how “different” 1000 feels from 1. The reaction from a child when he holds his first thousand cube is usually, “Wow!”