What is Montessori?

Montessori Education
Traditional Education
Three Year Age Span
All One Age
Motivated by Self Development
Teacher Motivated, External Rewards and Punishments
Self-Correcting Material, Allows the Child to Work Independently
Teacher Corrects Errors, Child Must Wait for Direction
Hands on Learning Manipulating Objects
Teacher Lectures, Coaxes or Entertains
Individualized Learning
Group Learning
Teacher is Observer, Facilitator and Guide
Teacher is the Focal Point and Dominant Influence
Cycle of Activity Completed Within Childs Natural Time Frame
Activity Cycles Determined by an Externally Set Time
Few Interruptions
Frequent Interruptions
Freedom to Move and Work
Must  Sit Still.
Work for Joy and Sense of Discovery
Do it to Avoid Punishment or Embarrassment
Environment Fosters Inner Discipline
Teacher Controls the Class
Encouraged to Help One Another
Must Seek Help from Teacher Whose Attention is Split
Child Follows Inner Drives to Learn and Chooses Materials Correspondingly
Teacher Decides what will be Taught and when Regardless of the Readiness of Individuals in the Class
Carefully Organized Environment and Prepared Materials
Cluttered, Distracting, Sensory-Overload for Small Children.
Multi-Sensory Materials to Develop Specific Skills
Toys for Entertainment, No Real Educational Value

Montessori education allows children to own their education. It gives them the opportunity to learn facts they need to know, but also gives them actual EXPERIENCE with those principles so they become permanently cemented in their mind. They are then able to draw upon that knowledge for the rest of their lives.

The Montessori "Prepared Environment" allows the children to explore and learn on their own, discovering concepts for themselves. The benefit of this is that when the child feels ownership over their education and their ability to gain knowledge, they are empowered to build on that knowledge. The Montessori teacher is there to guide and to facilitate learning.

-In Montessori, the ages are mixed.  With the open classroom, each child has the opportunity to progress through the materials at their own individual pace. Finding their own perfect balance of challenge and accomplishment. The combining of the age groups allows the younger ones to observe the children just older than them completing work, in anticipation of completing that work themselves. The older children are able to reinforce and solidify things they have learned by teaching those just younger than them. This not only 'finalizes' their own knowledge, but gives them added self confidence that comes from taking on a leadership role. This is what makes a Montessori Class an "Environment for Learning."


  Concepts such as length, width, dimension, weight, temperature, and color and shade differentiation are all explored.  Observational skills are essential to learning and absorbing information, in life and in the real world. Through the Sensorial Materials these skills are strengthened and refined in the early years and utilized for a lifetime. 

Through experience with the beautiful and specially developed materials, multiple senses are engaged and children are then able to 'absorb' knowledge and basic principles. Montessori is child-led. Meaning, the child is able to learn about an array of subjects both academic and social, at their own pace in their own time. Montessori materials are self correcting whenever possible. The child is able to see their own errors and make any needed corrections.


Math in Montessori is based on the idea that a number is an abstract concept and can only be fully understood though experience. The Montessori materials in the preschool or 'primary' math area are designed for the child to gain concrete understanding of the abstract concepts of numeration, the decimal system, computation, arithmetic, whole numbers, fractions and positive numbers.

"This system in which a child is constantly moving objects with his hands and actively exercising his senses, also takes into account a child's special aptitude for mathematics. When they leave the material, the children very easily reach the point where they wish to write out the operation. They thus carry out an abstract mental operation and acquire a kind of natural and spontaneous inclination for mental calculations." 
(Dr. Montessori, The Discovery of the Child)  

The specifically designed Montessori Math materials are used to give a visual and muscular discrimination of numbers. The child begins to observe a difference between larger and smaller numbers and that each number is a representation of any unit. Giving them a real basis for understanding the concept of numbers.

"Language is the central point of difference between the human species and all others. Language lies at the root of that transformation of the environment that we call civilization…Language is an instrument of collective thought…Hence, language is truly the expression of a kind of super intelligence. " (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind)

Practical Life 

Activities refine small motor skills and further the child's independence by giving them the ability to care for themselves and their surroundings. Such as, pouring, spooning, tweezing, polishing shoes, buttoning, zipping, snapping, tying, sewing, weaving, washing and dusting etc.