FAQs about Montessori Education in General
Yes. Montessori is suitable for all children. The prepared environment and materials offer
opportunities to learn through their senses – sight, touch, hearing (verbal and environments
sounds), smell, and taste, and so they provide different avenues of learning for children who
learn in different ways. The teacher prepares herself and the environment each day, and
connects the child to the environment which is full of materials they can explore and learn
Some children simply learn from observing others (adults and children), and when they have
observed enough, they may try the activity themselves, and many a times they even master
it quickly. And Montessori allows for that to happen without forcing the child to physically
do an activity in order to learn.
And then there are some other children who learn by doing and repeating multiple times
until the activity is mastered. Montessori allows these types of learners to work on each
activity for however long they want – all day, every day, until the child is satisfied.
Some children have the need to move a lot. Different Montessori activities provide a variety
of movement within the activity itself which do not distract the child, and rather bring focus
to what the child is working on. Since the environment is open to individual and group work,
the children are not even restricted to only sit in a certain way. They may choose the
position required for them to comfortably focus of their activity. The children are able to get
up and move around and develop an awareness of their surroundings and respect for others
So the Montessori environment provides for different learning styles.
While Montessori is suitable for all children, Montessori may not be easy for all families.
The Montessori classroom provides freedom, but within limits. These limits have no
exceptions and help the children be aware of themselves, others and their environment.
The freedom the children experience responsibly makes them feel secure, and therefore
allows them to explore and learn in a calm way.
However, for the families of the children, the Montessori school policies and limitations may
be difficult in these ways:
1) If you are a family that has a laissez-faire way at home, where your child can do what
ever they like, whenever they like, the parents may find the limits of the Montessori
classroom too constraining. Or,
2) If you are a strict family, and your child is used to only following your instructions
and cooperating with rewards and punishments, it could be difficult to “control”
your child (as per your wants) at home as he will be confused with the practices of
responsible freedom in the Montessori classroom.
Montessori schools are most suited to children from families where there is routine,
consistency, and respect for the child. Parents who want to help the child develop as happy
and secure individuals with inner discipline, can speak with the Montessori school and work
together in setting clear and consistent limits, and allowing the child to explore and learn.
Usually, Montessori schools are aware of the diversity and practises in homes and can help
in a way suited for your family.
The environment and practices within are cultivated by the children right from day one
through the guidance from adults and from observing the others in the environment.
Montessori children learn to plan their day because of the choices they are offered and the
decisions they make at every step. Some children need more guidance than others, but a
good Montessori teacher should be able to observe and guide children only to the extent
necessary and not affect in the child’s decision-making.
The Montessori environment is child-led. Which means that each and every child will learn
as per their developmental needs, which covers the entire range of learning that happens in
the early years.
No, nobody lags when they work at the natural pace for their development.
Montessori teaches children to be observant of their own needs, and the people and things
in their surroundings. They become equipped naturally, through the practices that have
become a part of them in the Montessori environment and therefore have the skills,
emotional ability and confidence to adapt to new situations. In general, Montessori children
are better equipped to not only cope, but do well, in new environments than non-
Montessori allows children to actively make choices at every step, and gently makes them
follow through on their choice, thus making them accountable for their decisions. That way
they learn to know what they are interested in (an inner pull) and what they want to work
with, which helps them work with more concentration and work harder, while following all
the rules (limitations) of the environment. This builds their ability to be respectful of
themselves and everyone and everything around them, wherever they go.
It can be difficult for parents to wrap their heads around how every child is given individual
lessons, and different lessons (subjects) as per the child’s needs, all at the same time, when
there are so many children in the classroom.
Let’s look at how it works in practice.
Everyday, the Montessori teacher prepares the classroom. Activities are places on shelves
accessible by the children in the various subject areas – practical life, sensorial, language,
etc. Every material is meticulously prepared and child-sized such that the child is able to
complete an activity and build their skill without the help of an adult. Each child is shown a
few activities as per their interest as observed by the adult (only one activity at a time).
Once the child has mastered one activity, they receive the next lesson. Therefore, every
child is continuously working on an activity that interests them and enables them to focus
and progress to the next. There is always something to work on for every child in any one of
the subject areas, and so the teacher has time to observe and go around to help (if needed)
or give a new lesson with a child.
When you observe a Montessori classroom at work, you may see one child working on a
math activity, and another child right beside him may be working on a practical life activity.
You may also see children working in pairs in working on a language activity, or a group of
children working together on an activity-based game.
As there is a mixed age group in the classroom, that is, children between 2.5 and 6 years are
together in the same primary classroom, the older children also help younger children.
Children learn very well from each other. The younger one observes how older children
work on an activity, and, by helping the younger child, the older one consolidates his own
There is less time spent on “crowd control” in the Montessori classroom. Children walk in
each day and begin their work when they are ready. So the teachers don’t spend time on
getting everyone to sit and listen to the same lesson. And therefore, there is more time to
help the children as per their needs.
The name “Montessori” was never copyrighted. So, you may find a wide variety of schools
calling themselves Montessori but may not be true Montessori schools. And it would be
prudent to know what to look for / ask when you visit a Montessori school:
- Mixed age groups – Every Montessori classroom must have a good mix of children of
different ages within the group, ie, 14 months to 3years, 3 to 6 years, etc.
- Unstructured work time – The children must be free to choose their work, and work
without interruption for as long as they need.
- The materials must always be at the children’s height and accessible to them without the
help of an adult.
- The materials must always be clean and complete (without any missing parts/articles or
any chips and breakages), and presented on trays or in baskets.
- The children must be independent irrespective of the difficulty of the task they choose.
And any necessary help from the observant adult must only be to the extent needed by the
- Learning must not require testing as the materials and the successful results of the child’s
work with it is a test in itself. An observant teacher knows which activities the child has
mastered so there is little need to test a child separately.
- The teachers must have a well-recognised Montessori certification. While Association Montessori Internationale, Netherlands (AMI) is the training organisation that Dr. Montessori’s family set up to maintain the integrity of the training, teachers certified from the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Indian Montessori Training Centre, Chennai (IMTC) are preferable.
- All the adults in the school must talk to the children with respect, and with the humility of
not knowing everything. An adult must be able to say, “I don’t know, let’s find out
together!” The adults must be pleasant and encourage the children to seek answers for
themselves or together.
Human beings experience the new things sensorially. The sensorial experience is more
heightened for small children for whom everything is new and they learn every day. They
engage all their senses and body in order to experience and understand what things are and
how things work. This experiential memory becomes a part of them and is far more
wholesome than learning from a screen.
The child’s absorbent mind until around 6 years of age is there to help them absorb
information and concepts that they receive from working with materials using their body
and senses. Screen learning cannot provide that.
Also, apart from reduced learning opportunities that screens provide, we can also see
dullness in response, tiredness and the inability to focus and control impulses after a child
has had screen time. The longer the screentime, the more the apparent effect. And
therefore, we don’t know the long-term effects of screen time on the developing brain. And
let’s keep in mind that many of the world’s brilliant people in the software line follow the
“no screen time” policy for their own children.