Highlights of the Montessori Method


  • Total development –aid to life (meets physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual needs)
  • Own pace-unique to every individual
  • Free choice –spontaneous
  • Education of the senses- learning through all five senses
  • Movement-activity
  • Language-self-expression and communication
  • Independence – making own efforts
  • Order-inner and outer
  • Mixed age group-social development
  • Means of development:
    • Prepared environment-developmentally appropriate
    • Materials-self correcting
    • Teacher/Adult-guide


  • Exercises of practical life/daily living activities-care of self and care of environment
  • Sensorial activities-learning through all 5 senses
  • Language-spoken language, reading and writing
  • Mathematics-number concepts
  • Culture-introduction to geography and science

Montessori Prepared Environment

The process of development is dependent on : an integral relationship with the environment and; freedom.

Montessori classrooms provide an atmosphere that is pleasant and attractive to allow children to learn at their own pace and interact with others in a natural and peaceful environment. In the ideal classroom, children would have unfettered access to the outdoors, but this is frequently not possible given modern day space considerations.

In response, Montessori teachers stock their classrooms with nature shelves, living plants and small pets, or perhaps a window sill garden, allowing children to experience as much of the natural world as possible given modern constraints.

Basic components of the Prepared Environment

  • Freedom – The child moves freely in the environment, working with any material or talking to other children. He is not free to disturb other children who are working or abuse or destroy material.
  • Reality and Nature-The child should grow up close to nature and experience of the natural environment, as it contributes to the child’s spiritual growth.
  • Social Awareness- Through freedom of movement and through the Montessori exercise for care of environment, also care of self and development of  social skills, the child is helped towards social awareness.
  • Order-The environment should be structured and ordered so that it is easier for the child to make sense of the external world.
  • Beauty- The environment should be aesthetically pleasing and simple.
  • Montessori Didactic materials- These are the means of development and an important element of the educational environment.

Areas of the Prepared Environment

In the Montessori Curriculum, there are 5 overall areas:

Exercises of Practical Life

  • This area is designed to help students develop a care for themselves, the environment, and each other. In the Primary years (3-6), children learn how to do things from pouring and scooping, using various kitchen utensils, washing dishes, polishing objects, scrubbing tables, and cleaning up. They also learn how to dress themselves, tie their shoes, wash their hands, and other various self-care needs. They learn these through a wide variety of materials and activities.
  • The activities may build a child’s will power, concentration as well as being designed in many cases to prepare the child for writing.
  • For the first three years of life, children absorb a sense of order in their environment. They learn how to act a certain way naturally by absorbing it. In these ages, from 3-6, the children are learning how to both build their own order and discover, understand, and refine the order they already know. It’s typical to see a child spend a half hour working on one practical life activity with a strong concentration and attention to detail.
  • Language preparation comes in many forms in the practical life area. In many languages, the setup is from left to right, top to bottom, in horizontal lines as much as possible to prepare the child for reading and writing. Many of the fine motor skills being used involve a pencil grip and help the child develop that grip to be able to later use a pencil more easily.


  • All learning first comes to us through the senses.
  • Educating the senses by isolating something that is being taught, the child can more easily focus on it. For example, colors are not taught by having the child think of everything that is blue – blue jeans, the sky, icebergs, and a picture of a blue cartoon elephant hanging on a wall. Colors are taught with the color tablets. The color tablets are all exactly the same except for one thing – their color in the middle. This helps take away the confusion for the child and helps them to focus on specifically what blue is.
  • Exact phrasing of terms is important. An oval is not an “egg shape.” A sphere is not a “ball.” The Montessori Method places great emphasis on using the correct terminology for what we see. This is readily apparent in the sensorial area.
  • The sensorial area also falls over into the math area quite regularly. The red rods in the sensorial area are a direct link to the segmented rods in math that teach 1-10. The pink tower has a connection to units and thousands that the child learns later in the 3-6 curriculum. Even the trinomial cube will be used in the elementary years to figure out complex mathematical formulas.



  • This includes both the studies of the world and various cultures. Montessori children come out of a 3-6 environment not only understanding the concept of a continent, country, and state, but also the names of many countries around the world. Montessori uses colored maps to help the children remember continents, countries, and states.
  • The goal is to get an understanding that there are various cultures and these cultures have a lot to offer us. When a student is doing the map of Asia, pictures, stories, facts about different Asian countries, and a variety of learning opportunities open up to give the child a real sense of the world and how it is different – even within the same area.  A focus on appreciating and enjoying other cultures is also a core part of the curriculum. A child may even take his interest in geography and expand it to a wide range of learning opportunities in other areas.


  • Children at the early childhood age are very detail-oriented. They know what a bird is. Now they want to know the various body parts of a bird. They want to know the life cycle of different animals. They begin to really look at the parts of a plant and wonder, “What are those long things coming out of the middle of a flower?” The science curriculum takes the opportunity for the child’s natural questioning and draws a curriculum for the 3-6 age range.


  • The language curriculum in 3-6 involves everything from vocabulary development to writing to reading. Children learn their basic letter sounds through the use of sandpaper letters, where the letters are cut from sandpaper and glued to a wooden board. As the child traces the letter, they get a real image for how the letter feels. They can also feel if a mistake was made because of the different feel of the sandpaper from the board. They begin making words before they can read words with the moveable alphabet, a large box of cut out letters made from wood or plastic that the child can arrange on his or her rug.
  • Grammar  concepts  like nouns, verbs, adjectives, articles, prepositions,  pronouns etc, as function of words are introduced through activities and games. An appreciation for literature is another strong point in the Montessori curriculum.


  • In the Montessori areas of Practical Life and Sensorial, the child is introduced to premath concepts such as temporal relations, spatial relations, and one to one correspondence. A child’s perception is enhanced by asking him to match, order, contrast, and compare. The Montessori math materials  were designed to allow the child to explore a concept in the concrete form. The sequence of presentation begins with simple to more complex and from concrete to abstract (quantity to symbol and quantity and symbol association).
  • The math materials at Montessori classroom begin with numeration from one to ten. These materials include: Numerical Rods, Sandpaper Letters, Printed Numerals, Spindle Box, Cards and Counters, Colored Bead Bars and the Memory Game. By manipulation these material, children build the basic concept from one to ten not only to memory the natural order of numbers, but also to recognize the relationships between quantity and quality.
  • After master the basic concept, children need to understand the place value in math. The Decimal System introduce children the place value to thousand. Through working with the 9-Tray, the 45 Layout and the Formation of Complex Numbers, Teen Boards, and Ten Boards, children will develop mathematics concept beyond ten.

Montessori Materials

  • Every activity has its place in the classroom and is self-contained and self-correcting. Materials progress from simple to complex and begin as concrete expressions of an idea and gradually become more abstract.
  • The original didactic materials are specific in design, conforming to exact dimensions, and each activity is designed to focus on a single skill, concept, or exercise. All of the material is based on SI units of measurement (for instance, the Pink Tower is based on the 1 cm cube) which allows all the materials to work together and complement each other, as well as introduce the SI units through concrete example. In addition to this, material is intended for multiple uses at the primary level. For example, manipulative materials initially used to allow the child to analyze sense impressions are also designed to improve fine motor coordination needed for writing.
  • Other materials are often constructed by the teacher: felt storyboard characters, letter boxes (small containers of objects that all start with the same sound) for the language area, science materials (e.g. dinosaur models for tracing, etc.), scent or taste activities, and so on. The practical life area materials are almost always put together by the teacher. All activities must be neat, clean, attractive and preferably made of natural materials such as glass or wood, rather than plastic. Sponges, brooms, and dustpans are provided and mishaps, including broken glassware, are not punished but rather treated as an opportunity for the children to demonstrate responsibility by cleaning up after themselves.

Montessori Adult

  • The Montessori adult should be well versed in the Montessori philosophy and have a sound knowledge of the materials, their use, their possibilities and their scope.
  • The Montessori teacher functions as a designer of the environment, resource person, demonstrator, record keeper and a meticulous observer of each child‘s behavior and growth.
  • The role of the Teacher /Adult is not so much to teach but to guide, support, and assist the natural energies of the child in the process of development or the child’s efforts at self construction.
  • The educator’s three tasks towards the child include:
    • To prepare, maintain and develop the environment
    • To protect, support and stimulate/motivate
    • To observe and offer help based on the need

Montessori Lessons

A child does not engage in an activity until the teacher or another student has directly demonstrated its proper use, and then the child may use it as desired (limited only by individual imagination or the material’s potentially dangerous qualities). Each activity leads directly to a new level of learning or to a concept. When a child actively learns, that child acquires the basis for later concepts. Additionally, repetition of activities is considered an integral part of this learning process, and children are allowed to repeat activities as often as they wish. If a child expresses boredom on account of this repetition, then the child is considered to be ready for the next level of learning.

Montessori Philosophy

– A brief introduction

Sensitive Periods

Absorbent Mind






Social Development

Sensitive Periods

  • Sensitive periods are described as a block of time in the child’s life when he is absorbed with one characteristic of his environment to the exclusion of others, which finally results in the creation of a human function or mental faculty. For eg. Language, Co-ordination of  movement, Social development, Order etc
  • It is the pattern the child follows in gaining knowledge of the environment.
  • They are inner sensitivities which enable him to choose from the complex environment, what is suitable and necessary for his growth. A delay in their awakening will result in an imperfect relationship between the child and the environment and a disturbing effect on his personality.

Absorbent Mind

  • The mind of child in the formative years ( birth to 6 years) is different from that of an adult. With this special mind, the Absorbent Mind , he absorbs sensorial impressions  from the environment wholly, without discrimination and adapts to the time and place.
  • “Impressions do not merely enter his mind, they form it, they incarnate themselves in him”  Absorbent Mind

An unconscious activity thus prepares the mind; it is succeeded by a conscious process which slowly awakens and takes from the unconscious what it can offer.

  • He constructs his mind in this way, until little by little he has established memory, the power to understand and the ability to reason.


  • The child is most sensitive to the absorption of language of his environment between 2 1/2 and 5 1/2 years of age.
  • The  language acquired by the child in his formative years (birth to six years), remains a part of his personality for the rest of his life. Also, the language he has acquired would reflect his whole environment.
  • Language development of the child is possible only if the child  is given the freedom to explore his environment and find  experiences which would enrich his language.
  • The child should enjoy the freedom for self-expression and cultivate confidence to express himself freely.
  • Language, as a means of communication serves as a means of establishing, maintaining and continuing human relationships.


  • It is only in the atmosphere of freedom hat a child can work at his development and thus manifest his true self or nature.

Forms of freedom to ensure his total development are-

    • the freedom to explore and gather personal experiences, using his own effort.
    • the freedom  of movement, in the inner and outer environment, as the child will develop controlled movements.
    • the freedom to make a spontaneous choice as it helps the child strengthen his will power and make him more independent.
    • the freedom to work , any number of cycles, without disturbance as precision attracts him deeply.
    • the  freedom to develop social relationships so as to accept and be accepted in the community.
    • the freedom to communicate and express himself  freely with confidence.
    • Freedom offered to the child should not threaten the interest and safety of the community.


  • Independence is the capacity to utilize freedom, through understanding, in order to fulfill a need.
  • Independence is achieved by the child by making efforts and being able to do a thing without help from others.
  • Conquering successive levels of independence is a human conquest and vital to the child’s development.

“The child seeks for independence by means of work; an independence of body and mind.” Absorbent Mind


  • Child’s love for order is based on the vital need for a precise and determined environment – it is not the objects in place that is identified as order, but the relationship between objects.
  • The external order is absorbed and internalized to become inner order, which is reflected in his developed personality.
  • Forms of order for a child-:
    • Relationships in a family
    • Cause and Effect
    • Action and Reaction
    • That Events occur in different places and at the same time
    • That Objects and people remain and don’t vanish
    • Realizes that every object has a typical name and function
    • Recognizes the similarities and differences


  • Movement is essential to life of any individual, so as to be in touch with his surroundings and forming relationships.
  • Movement is the basis of independence and should be given freedom, both around the inner and outer part of the environment.
  • Movement helps in the development of the mind and this finds renewed expression in further movement and activity.

Social Development

Mixed-Age grouping in a Montessori  prepared environment –

  • The children develop a sense of responsibility towards the classroom environment and for each other.
  • Older children help the younger children spontaneously and are more sensitive to the nature and degree of help the younger child needs.
  • Younger children are inspired by the exposure to the possibilities of their future.
  • Silent admiration and appreciation is extended from both sides.
  • As they are not force to compete with each other, there is a natural desire to help others spontaneously and also develop mutual respect, companionship and tolerance. Sooner , he is able to extend this to the wider environment.

Early Child Development

Early childhood is the most rapid period of development in a human life. Although individual children develop at their own pace, all children progress through an identifiable sequence of physical, cognitive, and emotional growth and change. The Early Child Development approach is based on the proven fact that young children respond best when caregivers use specific techniques designed to encourage and stimulate progress to the next level of development.

The ultimate goal of Early Child Development (ECD) programs is to improve young children’s capacity to develop and learn. A child who is ready for school has a combination of positive characteristics: he or she is socially and emotionally healthy, confident, and friendly; has good peer relationships; tackles challenging tasks and persists with them; has good language skills and communicates well; and listens to instructions and is attentive. The positive effects ECD programs have can change the development trajectory of children by the time they enter school. A child who is ready for school has less chances of repeating a grade, being placed in special education, or being a school drop-out.

ECD interventions include educating and supporting parents, delivering services to children, developing capacities of caregivers and teachers, and using mass communications to enhance parents and caregiver’s knowledge and practices. Programs for children can be center or home-based, formal or non-formal, and can include parent education.

To learn more about the early development stages:

Development Stages
Age Range What they do What they need
Birth to 3 months At this age, children begin to smile, track people and objects with eyes, prefer faces and bright colors, reach, discover hands and feet, lift head and turn toward sound, and cry, but are often soothed when held. Protection from physical danger, adequate nutrition, adequate health care, (immunization, oral rehydration therapy, hygiene), motor and sensory stimulation, appropriate language stimulation, responsive, sensitive parenting.
4 to 6 months At this age, children smile often, prefer parents and older siblings, repeat actions with interesting results, listen intently, respond when spoken to, laugh, gurgle, imitate sounds, explore hands and feet, put objects in mouth, sit when propped, roll over, scoot, bounce, grasp objects without using thumb Protection from physical danger, adequate nutrition, adequate health care, (immunization, oral rehydration therapy,hygiene), motor and sensory stimulation, appropriate language stimulation, responsive, sensitive parenting.
7 to 12 months At this age, children remember simple events, identify themselves, body parts, familiar voices, understand own name, other common words, say first meaningful words, explore, bang, shake objects, find hidden objects, put objects in containers, sit alone, creep, pull themselves up to stand, walk, may seem shy or upset with strangers. Protection from physical danger, adequate nutrition, adequate health care, (immunization, oral rehydration therapy, hygiene), motor and sensory stimulation, appropriate language stimulation, responsive, sensitive parenting.
1 to 2 years At this age, children imitate adult actions, speak and understand words and ideas, enjoy stories and experimenting with objects, walk steadily, climb stairs, run, assert independence, but prefer familiar people, recognize ownership of objects, develop friendships, solve problems, show pride in accomplishments, like to help with tasks, begin pretend play. In addition to needs from previous years, children at this age require support in the following: acquiring motor,language, and thinking skills, developing independence, learning self-control, opportunities for play and exploration, play with other children. Health care must also include deworming.
2 to 3 1/2 years At this age, children enjoy learning new skills, learn language rapidly, are always on the go, gain control of hands and fingers, are easily frustrated, act more independent, but still dependent, act out familiar scenes. In addition to needs from previous years, children at this age require opportunities to do the following: make choices, engage in dramatic play, read increasingly complex books, sing favorite songs, work simple puzzles.
3 1/2 to 5 years At this age, children have a longer attention span, act silly & boisterous, may use shocking language, talk a lot, ask many questions, want real adult things, keep art projects, test physical skills and courage with caution, reveal feeling in dramatic play, like to play with friends, do not like to lose, share and take turns sometimes. In addition to needs from previous years, children at this age require opportunities to do the following: develop fine motor skills, continue expanding language skills by talking, reading, and singing, learn cooperation by helping and sharing, experiment with pre-writing and pre-reading skills.
5 to 8 years At this age, children grow curious about people and how the world works, show an increasing interest in numbers, letters, reading and writing, become more and more interested in final products, gain more confidence in physical skills, use words to express feeling and to cope, like grown-up activities, become more outgoing, play cooperatively. In addition to needs from previous years, children at this age require opportunities to do the following: develop numeracy and reading skills, engage in problem-solving, practice teamwork, develop sense of personal competency, practice questioning and observing, acquire basic life skills, and attend basic education.

Why Invest in ECD

The reasons for investing in ECD programs are numerous and interrelated. A child’s ability to think, form relationships, and live up to his or her full potential is directly related to the synergistic effect of good health, good nutrition, and appropriate stimulation and interaction with others. A large body of research has proven the importance of early brain development and the need for good health and nutrition.ECD project research has proven that children who participate in well-conceived ECD programs tend to be more successful in later school, are more competent socially and emotionally, and show higher verbal and intellectual development during early childhood than children who are not enrolled in high quality programs. Ensuring healthy child development, therefore, is an investment in a country’s future workforce and capacity to thrive economically and as a society.

The benefits of ECD thereby encourage greater social equity, increase the efficacy of other investments, and address the needs of mothers while helping their children. Integrated programs for young children can modify the effects of socioeconomic and gender-related inequities, some of the most entrenched causes of poverty.

  • Studies from diverse cultures show that girls enrolled in early childhood programs are better prepared for school and frequently stay in school longer. Early childhood interventions also free older sisters from the task of tending preschoolers, so that they can return to school.
  • With ever more mothers working and more households headed by women, safe child care has become a necessity. Providing safe child care allows women the chance to continue their education and learn new skills, thereby addressing the intersecting needs of women and children.

Including early childhood interventions in larger programs can enhance the programs’ efficacy. Early childhood interventions in health and nutrition programs increase children’s chances of survival. Interventions in education programs prepare children for school, improving their performance and reducing the need for repetition.

A healthy cognitive and emotional development in the early years translates into tangible economic returns. Early interventions yield higher returns as a preventive measure compared with remedial services later in life.  Policies that seek to remedy deficits incurred in the early years are much more costly than initial investments in the early years. Nobel Laureate Heckman (1999) argues that investments in children bring a higher rate of return than investments in low-skill adults.

Source: World Bank

“Our work as adults does not consist in teaching, but helping the infant mind in its work of development”
– Dr. Marial Montessori, Absorbent Mind