Homeschool – What is Montessori?

“It is true that we cannot make a genius. We can only give to teach child the chance to fulfil his potential possibilities.”

~Maria Montessori

Who Was Maria Montessori?

mm1933 Maria Montessori was born in Italy in August of 1870.  She was born during a time when most Italian women followed the course to be a teacher.  She was a revolutionary who – with much perseverance and strength – became a doctor, a course of study made up entirely of men.  Of course her time in medical school was extremely difficult.  She had to work on dissections alone, as they were not allowed to be done in mixed classes.  Despite the odds and prejudice against her, she became the first woman to qualify as a doctor, July 10, 1896.

The turning point of Montessori’s life was when she began working with retarded children in Rome’s asylum for the insane.  The caretaker begrudgingly noted that the children would take crumbs off the floor and eat them after their meal.  Montessori noted that in such bare and unfurnished rooms, the kids lacked sensoral stimulation and activities for their hands – and this was contributing to the situation.

With her partner in life, Maria became the co-director of the National League for the Education of Retarded Children.  Through her observations of the children – which she wrote up at night – she began to define and put to the test her ideas and theories.

In the summer of 1909, she began her training course to about 100 students – which she called the Montessori Method.  Her notes from the period became her first book, which was published in 1912.  After the book was published, a great time of expansion ensued.  Montessori schools sprang up all around the world.

With the onslaught of World War I, there was some corruption in the educational system.  Maria was pressed – and many schools shut down when she did not relent.

She continued promoting her program until she died while on a family vacation in the Netherlands in 1952.

The Montessori Method

The Curriculum is to help the child grow from infancy to maturity in a mutual respectful environment.  It’s successful because it draws principles from the natural development of the child.  It’s a child led based learning program.  Each child’s inner directives determine the learning and growth.  The teacher is there to encourage the learning and growth – and not direct it.

The transformation of children from birth to adulthood occurs through a series of developmental stages (planes).   Montessori practice changes in scope and manner to embrace the child’s changing development and interests.

The Planes of development

  • Birth – 6 years old – The absorbent mind – absorbing all aspects of the environment
  • 6-12 years old – The reasoning mind – observing the world through abstract thought and imagination
  • 12-18 – The humanistic mind – Understanding humanity and the contribution that he/she can make
  • 18-24 – the specialist mind – Taking his/her place in the world

While a Montessori education is very common in the young years, very rarely do you see it offered in the higher grades.

The Montessori Classroom

Children are provided a controlled environment where they are free to respond to their naturally tendency to work.  The child’s innate passion for learning is encouraged by Montessori classroom giving them opportunities to engage spontaneous, purposeful activities.  Within the framework of order, Montessori educated children develop concentration and self-discipline.  All chairs, tables, activities are positioned for the size of the children.

The materials stimulate the child into a logical path of discovery.  It will be very obvious that something isn’t correct.   Being able to see his/her mistake, will lead the child to self discovery  on his/her own.  Not only is about individual learning, but being with a bunch of students makes it socially stimulating.  Olders mixed with youngers.  The young ones are stimulated by the more advanced students, and the advanced students are able to teach the younger ones (what you can teach – you know and understand).

The key principles to the prepared environment are as follows

  • Order
  • Choice
  • Freedom
  • Mixed age range
  • Movement
  • Control of Error
  • Materials
  • Role of the adult

Role of the Adult

The adult is not like a teacher – as in the more traditional school environment.  The role of the adult in the Montessori method is to stimulate the child to teach himself by following his own internal urges.

Added Note From Lisa

While a great method to use, and it does work to produce intelligent independent children – be prepared to spend money on materials.  You also need adequate space.  A financial/space warning.

Thought Provoking Question

Were you or do you know anyone who was enriched in a Montessori program during the young years?  How did you or the other person benefit?

Picture Credit


Visit our other posts in the series – addressing different homeschool methodologies


About Lisa

Hey! Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm Lisa - a homeschool mom of 3 (2 boys and 1 girl). I care about the strength of the family in America, and often blog about babies/kids, natural parenting, homeschool, and marriage. Before you leave, please sign up for my monthly newsletter (on the top right). If you do, you will be well rewarded with notification of all giveaways and sales - which will not be announced on the blog. Google+ Profile


  1. Wonderful article! Thank you so much for stopping by This Momma’s Ramblings and linking up for This Momma’s Meandering Mondays! Have an awesome week!
    Stacey Gannett recently posted…This Momma’s Meandering Mondays 1!My Profile

  2. Hey Lisa! This was very enlightening. I’ve heard things about the Montessori school of thought, but I haven’t looked much into it since my son is only 14 months old. We plan on homeschooling so I will definitely be looking into some methods as I decide to create some type of curriculum. We watch PBS in the morning and they often advertise a Montessori Preschool nearby where we live. It was great to learn the concept and about the woman who created it by reading your post. Thank you!
    Brittnei recently posted…I’ve been nominated for a LIEBSTER!My Profile

  3. I found you at the Meandering Monday blog hop. Thanks for this information as I was always confused as to what it really was. Hope you will come link up at the Friday Follow Along, there is still time!

  4. great info, I was never into the Montessori Method when I first began teaching, but now I have lots of tricks in “took kit”. I use a bit of everything and adapt to the child and their learning style and needs.
    karen recently posted…DINOSAURS BAKE BROWNIES and WASH DISHESMy Profile

    • Yep…yep…yep. That’s what it’s all about. Learning, growing and connecting. That’s what makes you an excellent teacher, Karen. That’s what makes you stand out.

      I’m also not much of a Montessori Mother. But, I have been able to help my children along the path without it. I don’t think one or none is the be all or end all. It all works – what’s more important is what works with your children.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and also for your comment.
      Lisa recently posted…Classical Homeschool – The Charlotte Mason MethodMy Profile

  5. I tend to primarily use the Montessori method when it comes to teaching my little ones. I find it helps them to be independent. It also gives them something to considerate on while I’m teaching or doing something which calls for a little quiet time.
    Tati recently posted…They’re Always Around, Watching and LearningMy Profile

  6. Great intro! I had my kids in a Montessori preschool together. I loved it for the two of them but I think my daughter got a little more out of it. She is my more independent learner.
    Ann recently posted…Mittens?My Profile

    • Yep. We never did Montessori. It was the most expensive of all options – and my son had anxiety issues and wouldn’t really do any activities anyway.

      For my daughter, went did pre-school for a year, but she hated it, and so did I. It was a complete waste of money and time – for us. I just wanted her to get out and meet other people, which we accomplished, but I think there are better ways than going to preschool.

      I think we were sold preschool because that’s what people do. People (especially the people that my husband knows) strongly advised him to put her in preschool and I relented knowing that it wasn’t the right thing to do.

      Plus, I think kids should stay home as long as possible with their parents. I just think it’s better for them rather than being pushed off into a structured schooling environment. I’m crazy that way though. Most of our friends do Montessori at 2 years old. I’m the odd one of the bunch – the one who says it’s better to keep our kids dumb for as long as possible. (eye roll)
      Lisa recently posted…A Day In The Life of a Homeschooling Family – A New SeriesMy Profile

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge