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 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.

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!

Enjoying the Moment

In this first full week back to school and back to routine, many of us may have already begun to fall into a pattern of rushing our children along to stay on time. This article, from Hands Free Mama via Huffington Post, reminds us why it is so important to remove the pressure to hurry from our behavior and our vocabulary with our children. This week, we hope you all take the time to stop and enjoy each moment.

The Big Day is almost here!

After a great orientation night, the first day of school is just around the corner! Our last post shared a source full of tips for the days leading up to the big day; today, we want to focus on having a great start the first morning – and every morning – of the year. These tips from Middleburg Montessori School in Middleburg, Virginia offer fantastic advice on ensuring that your children are set up for a wonderful and successful day.

Preparing for a New School Year

As summer draws to a close, it can be difficult for parents to know how to go about re-establishing or creating new routines for the coming school year. Debbie Vale, a Montessori guide and author of the blog Help From Debbie, offers a practical timeline for getting children and parents ready to start the year off smoothly.

We are looking forward to seeing all of our families next week as we begin a wonderful new year!