The Top Ten Things You'll See Looking Into a Montessori Classroom


Multi-age Students

Students of a 3-Year age span based on Montessori’s planes of development (ages 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, 12-15)

  • To neutralize - vs. concentrating - single-year characteristics of development
  • To provide role models of past and future expectations; mentoring; collaborative learning
  • To offer a more natural, comfortable family grouping

Multiple Concurrent Activities

Children working on a wide range of activity/subjects throughout the room

  • To engage the learning dynamics of choice and interest
  • To provide opportunities for self-management and independence by planning and prioritizing work, establishing a personal time schedule

Individual and Small Group Lessons

Lessons are more precisely targeted to the child’s need and preparation (zone of proximal learning)

  • To engage the child in developmentally appropriate challenges
  • To present lessons which are personal vs. impersonal large audience
  • To allow others the time to work independently

Materials vs. Textbooks

Equipping the child with multisensory, concrete, developmentally appropriate “tools of learning”

  • To activate multiple lobes of the brain for deeper understanding and greater retention
  • To engage the dynamic of movement in facilitating brain development
  • To provide active versus passive learning (something done by you, not to you)


Experiencing learning as an active process fueled by movement, large or small

  • To provide time to reflect by walking (large movement) or labeling (small movement)
  • To prevent falling asleep, to develop self-regulation
  • To activate the organizing process within the brain by gathering one’s own materials


Children learning from and about each other as they work

  • To foster moving from egocentric to empathic (external loci)
  • To develop the social intelligence to balance the academic
  • To learn to relate and work with someone different than you
  • To benefit from a variety of perspectives

Child Directed vs. Teacher Directed

The child-centered learning environment

  • Teacher does not direct the whole class (motivate -> schedule -> equip -> reward/punish).
  • Teacher instructs small groups along periphery, not whole class from center.
  • Goal is independence, self-regulation, personal responsibility.

Intrinsic Rewards

Discovering the reward within the work

  • Praise draws the attention back to the child.
  • Rewards divert the value from the work to an unrelated object.
  • The goal is to experience the pride in a task well done; independence is the natural result.

Work Cycle (“Flow”)

Ensuring 2½ -3½ hours free of interruption

  • Focus and concentration develop when given a chance; this is the child’s nature.
  • Extended periods of deep concentration develop peacefulness and happiness.
  • Providing the time and tools to learn are the keys to independence

Wide-Ranging Curriculum

As the child’s mind and spirit grow, so goes the curriculum.

  • Math accelerates beyond TEKS, using geometry to visualize it.
  • Grammar studies focus on the parts of speech, sentence analysis, phrases, clauses, verb tenses and moods
  • History and science merge into a study of the universe.
  • Sciences include: botany, zoology, earth science, astronomy, chemistry, physics, geology, paleontology, archaeology, geography, chemistry, etc.
  • Child learns the interconnectedness of life.
  • In researching the contributions and commonalities of all civilizations, children discover their responsibility to contribute to the Human Legacy.
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