Elements of Montessori Education

Table of Content

Montessori education is a child-centered approach to education that prioritizes the overall development of the child. The directress undergoes training in three areas simultaneously – spiritual, mental, and physical. In terms of spiritual readiness, she must possess the ability to guide and create a secure and supportive environment for the children.

  1. The first task of the directress is to forgo her ego & prejudices & meet the child without any pre-conceived notions about his abilities & potentials.
  2. She should accept that the child is her only guide & in order to help him, she must follow and understand him & be willing to learn what the child reveals.
  3. She should patiently observe the child & ask herself what she needs to do next to help the child.
  4. She should love the child in truest sense & not expect anything in return. This love comes from a deep respect & understanding that children will absorb her movements, actions, calmness & integrity just by watching her & not follow or do what they are told to do.
  5. She should be a mature adult with a smile on her face & not bring her personal problems in the class.
  6. She should be humble & offer help to the child without crushing his spirit. She should understand that she cannot mould the child but can only help him to follow his inner urges.
  7. She should not judge herself by the child’s work, but should constantly attempt to better herself in the awareness of the needs of the child. She should awaken her true consciousness & realize the human, social & spiritual importance of the child.
  8. She should be confident but not over confident & should have the ability to be impersonal & listen to the child.
  9. She should exercise self control & not laugh or ridicule the child. She should treat him with dignity. She should be careful with her language in front of the children. She should not whisper to other adults in the room & pass sarcastic comments.
  10. She should be willing to listen & understand the parents & the children. She should always bend down on her knees to have eye contact with them.
  11. She should be consistent & lovingly firm with the child to prevent him from becoming disruptive.

In conclusion, it is important for her to demonstrate kindness without cruelty towards the children and to always be punctual and have self-discipline. It is also important for her to avoid losing her temper. To be mentally prepared, she should study the fundamentals of Montessori philosophy and implement them in her interactions with the children. Additionally, she should be mindful of the universal rights of children and strive to protect them.

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Children have a natural curiosity and ask many questions. Adults should have a good amount of general knowledge to answer these questions and keep the child interested. Additionally, adults should incorporate all aspects of human culture into the learning environment. They should also be knowledgeable about Montessori materials, their purposes, and how to use them. The adult’s movements should be precise, organized, and clear to show the purpose of each activity. They should know when to intervene and when to let the child be independent. It’s important for adults to keep records of their presentations and plan activities on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.

She should always strive to expand her knowledge and stay updated with current research in the field of education. Having an open mind towards other schools of thought will help strengthen her convictions. On a physical level, she should exhibit proper behavior, appearance, personality, and manners as they have an impact on the children. Being able to move furniture without causing noise and making only necessary movements is important. Additionally, she should maintain a pleasant demeanor and be neatly dressed. When communicating, her tone of voice should be calm, clear, and soft.

She must have good hygiene and maintain cleanliness. All aspects of her physical personality, such as movement, voice, mannerism, speech, dress, and appearance, should be positive. The work of the directress is threefold. She is responsible for guarding the prepared environment and ensuring it is always in a state of readiness. She should continue to develop the environment according to the pace, rhythms, and needs of the child. She should remain aware of her surroundings throughout the day and ensure everything is in order. She should also clean and repair any broken materials and make sure all sets are complete and in their proper place.

She must not allow misuse of any material and should create a conducive atmosphere for children to work with concentration. The Montessori materials should be presented in a way that brings them to life, but the teacher herself must remain detached from the outcome. When conducting group presentations, she should know how to gather, conduct, and disperse the group. Instead of taking center stage, she should be present as a helper and guide. As an observer, she has a responsibility towards both the child and the group. She should observe in a scientific and unobtrusive manner and have the patience to record her observations.

To assess the child’s needs and how to provide assistance, the person previously mentioned would acquire information about the child’s development and requirements and communicate this with their parents. At two and a half years old, the child has achieved many milestones and overcome challenges since birth. They have acquired skills like walking, talking, coordinating movements, and displaying behavior influenced by their individuality and culture. Nevertheless, apart from their home, family, and social surroundings, they also need a separate environment called the Prepared Environment.

When setting up the child’s environment, it is crucial to create a specialized space that meets their specific needs. There are certain factors that must be taken into account.

  1. We must remember that the child is in first stage of development. We must be aware of his tendencies
  2. The activities we provide should involve the child physically, mentally & emotionally. The activities should be intelligent, purposeful activities.
  3. Objects should be concrete & factual. There must be efficient tools that the child can use & explore his environment.
  4. The tools begin with the concrete which offer his intellect via his senses & movements. Gradually the child will try to move further towards the abstract e. g. geometry cabinet
  5. Materials are in classified form to bring clarity & order in the child’s mind.
  6. We should arrange the environment in such a way that the information is conveyed to the child’s mind as the child has an absorbent mind.
  7. We must consider all the sensitive periods & satisfy them. Order is important for orientation & security. Order should be provided in every sense i. e. where the materials are kept, how they are used. We must not change their place.
  8. Activities must be purposeful as the child’s attention is focused on the activity for a period of time.
  9. The environment should encourage the child to think creatively & logically. It is not enough that he takes in information but he should be able to apply it in his environment.
  10. The environment must help him gain inner discipline & self control
  11. It must help him develop at all levels i. e. spiritual, physical, emotional, social & mental. It is an all rounded development.

The adult needs to prepare the environment for the child and provide assistance in any way possible.

  1. Adult must see that the environment does not have any obstacles, that is not vitally needed by the child otherwise it will distract the child who is working on his development. It will draw his attention away from the means of development.
  2. This environment must provide the necessary space to the child. Then he can enjoy freedom & will be able to explore. Having space helps the child to become independent.
  3. The main work area should be spacious, well lit with natural light, well ventilated with low windows. Walls should be in one pastel color which gives a calm serene effect. Pictures should be well spaced at the height of the children. They should be changed from time to time so that the children do not become indifferent to them. They should have real paintings, sculptors & art work. Each child must have own individual furniture (own mats & chowki)
  4. Furniture should be light which promotes freedom of movement. Chairs should be at different heights according to ages. The feet of the children should touch the floor. Table can be of different geometric shapes.
  5. Mats should be of different sizes & colors to accommodate the children’s work. They should be in one light color, made of durable material that can be cleaned easily
  6. Have different areas for different activities e. g. reading corner, sewing corner, kitchen like area, prayer corner & art corner.
  7. The shelves on which material is displayed should be low open shelves so that the material is within the reach of the children’s hands & he should be able to see them. The shelf should not be fixed but movable. There are separate shelves for different activities which serve different purposes.
  8. Plants must be arranged in a room. Have a variety of indoor plants. A living creature should be there. Bring fresh flowers daily to arrange. Do not decorate with ornate things but provide attractive things with utility. The material should be in variety made of natural products like wood, glass, copper, earthenware, silver, chinaware, brass etc as these attract the children & stimulate interest.
  9. Material should be of light color so that the slightest dirt will be noticeable & the child becomes aware of his environment & develops a habit for taking care of things & cleaning them clean.
  10. In the reading corner, have a small arm chair or rocking chair or pretty cushions.
  11. Area for snack & lunch should be well planned. It should be different, comfortable, properly arranged for crockery, cutlery, safe drinking source, table mats & napkins to keep the area clean
  12. Outdoor area or garden must be pretty & the child should be free to go out when they want to.

Montessori materials and tools are an important part of the Prepared environment. These materials and tools were created by Dr. Maria Montessori after observing children. They are organized into five main categories. One of these categories is Exercises of Practical Life, which teaches children about the values and expectations in a community.

When a child wants to participate in the community, they engage in activities that help them learn and adopt the group’s behavior and ways. Practical Life exercises are categorized into different headings.

  • Care of the Person – Dressing & undressing, washing hands, combing hair etc.
  • Care of the Environment – Dusting furniture, cleaning chowkis, sweeping, mopping, watering plants etc.
  • Grace and Courtesy – How to greet someone, how to sneeze, cough etc.
  • Movement – How to hold things & carry them to the mat/shelves, how to walk around the mats, walking on the line etc.

These exercises are essentially universal, but they manifest differently across societies as they represent the everyday life of distinct cultures. The practical life activities aid in the child’s development of motor skills and organizational abilities. Furthermore, the child’s confidence grows as they actively take initiative and responsibility. Sensorial materials are not obligatory for children to categorize objects based on different attributes like size, color, shape, weight, temperature, or scent. They can also arrange objects from biggest to smallest, lightest to darkest, thickest to thinnest, or coldest to warmest without any specific materials.

Dr. Montessori created Sensorial Exercises to help children organize, group, and classify objects based on their senses. These exercises cover various qualities such as size, shape, composition, texture, loudness or softness, matching, weight, temperature, etc. The materials used for these exercises follow natural or mathematical principles and focus on isolating one characteristic while keeping others constant. They serve specific purposes and have a set quantity.

According to Montessori, the child’s learning does not occur through teaching, but rather through their experiences in the environment. In order to ensure that children maximize the benefits of working with materials, certain essential requirements must be met.

  1. The Montessori materials must be clean and kept on low inviting shelves. The material is arranged in a sequential order of complexity, going from simple to complex. This arrangement assists the child in choosing the one that most corresponds to his inner need.
  2. All of the materials are aesthetically pleasing & inviting. There are bright arrays of solid geometric forms, knobbed puzzle maps, colored beads, and various specialized rods and blocks. This attracts the child’s attention to the objects and allows the child to manipulate the materials with ease.
  3. All the materials are child sized for ease of use & real objects that the child sees in his day to day life. All the materials are movable & can be picked up easily by the child. Most materials are of light natural wood color so that the slightest dirt will be noticeable & the child becomes aware of his environment & develops a habit for taking care of things & cleaning them clean.
  4. Each material in a Montessori classroom isolates one quality. In this way, the concept that the child is to discover is isolated. For example, the pink tower is made up of ten pink cubes of varying sizes. The child constructs a tower with the largest cube on the bottom and the smallest on top. This material isolates the concept of size. The cubes are all the same color and texture; the only difference is their size. Other materials isolate different concepts: color tablets for color, geometry materials for form, and so on.
  5. The materials are scientifically designed & self-correcting. There is an in-built control of error. When a piece does not fit or is left over, the child easily perceives the error. There is no need for adult “correction. ” The child is able to solve problems independently, building self-confidence, analytical thinking, and the satisfaction that comes from accomplishment.
  6. The materials interrelate and build upon each other e. g. various relationships can be explored between the pink tower and the broad stair, which are based on matching precise dimensions. Later, in the elementary years, new aspects of some of the materials unfold. When studying volume, for instance, the child may return to the pink tower and discover that its cubes progress incrementally from one cubic centimeter to one cubic decimeter.
  7. All of the materials are in sets & these sets must be complete. This allows the child who is working with the material to finish through the entire piece of work without having to stop and find a missing piece.
  8. There is only one example of each material present in the environment, except the Exercises of Practical life. Hence, when the material is in use by one child, the other child has to await his turn. This lends to development of their will & self control. The child also learns to respect the work of other children.
  9. There is a limit to the information given to the child in one presentation. For example, the child is not given every color in the world, but only a select few. This gives the child the keys to the information so it peaks his curiosity and leads him to learn more out of his own interest.
  10. Last, but not the least, the adult presenting the materials must be trained in the Montessori method of education, and possess a solid understanding of the materials, their application, their possibilities, and their goals.

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Elements of Montessori Education. (2018, Mar 05). Retrieved from


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