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The Montessori Advantage

What is a Montessori School?

A Montessori school is a special environment for the child to cultivate his/her own natural desire to learn. The Montessori philosophy for child development was first formulated by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, during the early 1900’s. The method is research based and time tested for preparing students for the next plane of development. Dr. Montessori’s program for education focuses on the natural development of the whole child from birth through maturity. Children 2 to 12 years of age are the focus of our Montessori educational program. The method allows children to experience the joy of learning at an early age and throughout his/her education. Our school provides an environment in which when guided by Montessori trained teachers, students develop:


Students achieve in a Montessori classroom. The Montessori guide shows the student where important aspects of the classroom may be found, i.e. self management, practical life, sensorial, reading, math, science, history, and other academic areas. Students are then encouraged to make a choice from the inviting work awaiting them on the shelves. Lessons are presented individually by the teacher, using the Montessori materials, and the students find it easy to master concepts. After the teacher is assured your student knows how to complete the work, he/she is left to practice building, constructing, and completing the work at his/her own pace. Because the hands are engaged, the student works with great concentration. Once the student presents mastery, he/she is given the next lesson in the sequence of the curriculum.

The school’s IOWA test results show the longer a child stays in a Montessori environment, the higher the scores. Montessori education prepares students for the next plane of development and facilitates strong achievement.


Students develop leadership skills naturally in a Montessori environment. Within the 3 year age grouping of classroom communities, students during the second and third years practice these skills while helping younger students as well as each other. Leadership skills are encouraged and students ask for and are given the amount of responsibility they can successfully manage and appropriate for their age.

As students mature and move to advanced classes, more responsibility is assumed and more complex leadership skills are encouraged.

Self Discipline

One of the most important traits an individual must develop is that of self discipline, i.e. the management of a person, his/her words, actions, body, and decisions. Many parents report that their child is “strong willed.” Montessori schools value strong willed students as they make very successful adults. It is the student’s responsibility, however, to learn how to manage the will in order to become successful. Such activities include, but are not limited to, learning to work before play, putting work away before selecting another, making an apology if another has been aggrieved, or speaking in nice ways to friends rather than using unkind words. Learning to respect and follow an authority rather than following one’s own agenda is another activity some students must develop.

Once one has begun to control the aspects of his/her life, the student’s ability to become successful dramatically increases.

Self Reliance

Just as in any adult office or work environment, students are expected to meet their own needs as best they can for their age and ability. For example, after a two year old is shown where the tissues, mirror, and waste container are located, (and given a lesson, if necessary) he/she is expected to handle a runny nose independently. After a lesson is given in the math golden beads, a four year old is expected to choose the work from the shelf, lay out the hierarchy of a four digit number, and match the corresponding beads to the numerical written representation. After choosing a two person work, a Kindergarten or Elementary student will find a willing partner to join in laying out materials, performing the tasks from start to finish, appreciating the outcome and effort, and returning the work to the shelf where first retrieved. If ever help is needed at any age, the student will engage the teacher, or another student to assist.

What is the result of this independent work? Students quickly learn that they are capable, smart, and competent.


Practical Life materials and activities facilitate independence within a Montessori classroom. A student needing to wash the hands needn’t ask the teacher for permission to do so. Those needing a tissue simply are expected to acquire one and dispose of it responsibly. Maria Montessori thought children should move about the classroom in free exploration. (This didn’t mean mischief was tolerated; it meant that students were to move about with purpose while respecting another’s space, work, and person.) Students thrive when they are allowed to freely move about the room in search of work; they’re joyful when work is chosen which leads to deep concentration. They achieve when left to explore the materials until the concept is assimilated on their own time and in their own way.

Independent work leads to independent thought and action. To think for one’s self, make independent decisions, act independently, and the knowledge that one may depend upon him/herself, is necessary for success in life.

Self Confidence

The realistic belief in one’s abilities, skills, strengths, power, or judgment comprises one’s self confidence. Students find great satisfaction in the accomplishment of many tasks within a given day; as a result self confidence grows.

Each student receives an individual lesson in how to build or complete a specific work, and then is left to explore the materials unassisted for an amount of time of their choosing. With the appropriate work on the level of the children, this process helps the students feel successful and wanting more. As the year progresses and success is attained, your student feels confidence in his/her abilities to choose work, complete it, return it to the shelf ready for the next student, and accomplished as a scholar.

Confidence also grows in one’s ability to manage social opportunities as they arise within a classroom, playground, or other school environment. Students are given lessons in problem solving, peace education, and making restitution when aggrieving another. They are also given lessons in how to interrupt, invite another to a group work, decline an invitation, state their wants and needs respectfully and responsibly, set boundaries, and generally manage their day with all that it presents. Solving social problems is a process and students are acknowledged for small successes until mastery is achieved.


Once a child enters a Montessori classroom, he/she is given a multitude of lessons that will facilitate independent movements. It is then the student’s responsibility to complete the work and return it to the shelf, ready for the next student who might choose it. Keeping the classroom community orderly and clean is the responsibility of all members of the class. Students are taught to use the sweeper in the event of dry spills on a carpet, use the sponge or towel in the event of wet spills, and to use a dust pan and broom in the event of spills on hard flooring. It is not necessary to ask the guide or teacher to use the tools. The guide expresses confidence in her students that they are capable and proficient.


One’s character is made up of characteristics of moral, ethical, and behavioral traits as well as the principles on which one stands consistently. Montessori schools and classroom communities value honesty, truthfulness, courage, caring, fairness, and the foundational characteristic of respect. Montessorians value hard work and the determination and perseverance to complete work. Boundaries facilitate the following of rules in order to peacefully coexhist in the community.

Montessori guides and administrators treat the students with the utmost of respect and consideration which facilitates students finding it easy to participate, interact, belong, and be successful at school.

Sense of Community

Students are warmly welcomed and accepted to the classroom community. Successes are celebrated and mistakes are problem solved. The environment encourages helpfulness, cooperation, and camaraderie. A positive community discourages negativity. Students who have a “corner to turn,” are encouraged and motivated to succeed. Most of all, each is given the time and attention needed to be successful.

Contributing to a community involves taking responsibility for its order, cleanliness, and leaving the work, complete with all parts needed, for the next student to use. Once the students are proficient in taking care of their own community, they are encouraged to serve their school in some capacity. Activities may include, but are not limited to, welcoming younger students to school, reading to younger students, feeding or watering animals in the barnyard, and other activities that might support the program.

As the student matures, the school encourages greater support of the school community as a way of preparing the individual for later support of their own community, state, nation, and planet.

Grace and Courtesy

With lessons in grace and courtesy, the child begins to civilize him/herself so that he/she may appropriately act upon the environment and interact with peers. Depending on the age, students may receive lessons in the appropriate way to cough, yawn, sneeze, or express interest in another. Learning how to offer help, decline it, introduce one’s self, how to interrupt another appropriately, or not interrupt another is all part of learning how to interact appropriately. When one observes a child moving about the classroom, the child will show the teacher the skills he has acquired and those he hasn’t. It is then the guide’s responsibility to give him/her the lesson in the appropriate behavior, as well as time to practice the new skill in order to master it.

Grace and courtesy is taught in all the classrooms of the school and is a process on which we continue to work throughout our lives.

Ownership of One's Education

Upon entrance to a Montessori school, it is explained to the family that the school can only accept 1/3 of the responsibility for the education of the child. The parents must only take 1/3 of the responsibility for the education of their child, and the child must accept his/her 1/3. If the school does more than its 1/3 share, or the parents do more than theirs, the child will not develop the skills, acquire the concepts, or develop to his/her full potential. The balance must be adjusted throughout the child’s educational career as the student ages and matures.