Montessori Educational Method

Montessori Curricular Goals For Children 3 to 6 Years Old

The educational program for the Early Childhood level in Children’s House is distinguished by a core curriculum where each child acquires and applies a breadth of skills during a three-year learning cycle.

Well-planned lessons are presented in a carefully prepared educational environment filled with specifically-designed, age-appropriate materials. The Montessori trained teacher creates opportunities for individual children in a mixed-age community. The children learn and achieve at a rate which meets their particular needs and allows their talents to emerge.

The primary program encourages the young child to explore, to cooperate, and to attain academic and social independence. The acquired skills are intended to prepare each child not only for success at the next academic level, but also for success in life.

Practical Life

Practical Life exercises instill skills in caring for oneself, for others, and for the environment. Activities include many of the tasks children see as part of the daily routine in their home as well as lessons in the social  graces and courtesy. Through these tasks children develop muscular coordination, skills of independence and focus their attention in activity that promotes concentration and attention to details.

Elementary Movements

These category of lessons in practical activities are designed to help the children build control and coordination of fine and gross motor coordination. They focus on the most basic and fundamental practical skills such as opening and closing a door, carrying objects, squeezing a sponge, folding, and cutting with a scissors.

By isolating the component movements of more complex practical tasks we prepare the children to be success in skills of independence while coordinating their movements.

Care of Self

These activities address the children’s need for purposeful activity that frees them from obstacles and helps them to do things for themselves. The self care exercises include skills in hygiene, dressing, and use of the toilet.

Care of the Environment

The care of the environment exercises teach skills for care of both the indoor and outdoor environment. They include washing, cleaning, scrubbing, polishing, gardening and many other practical activities seen at home. In the Montessori classroom children don’t just play house, they “do house”, with real tools geared to their proportions. These activities also emphasize sequencing, left to right alignment, control and dexterity, and follow a complete cycle which requires the child to follow through and complete the work. The child gains many indirect benefits from these activities which prepare them for later academic work.

Social Relations

In the classroom small skits are used to demonstrate the skills of social relations. These begin with simple demonstrations like how and when to interrupt, and progress to complex social skills like table manners. By instilling grace and courtesy through these lessons the children develop forms for successful interaction with peers and adults. The process creates a community built on mutual respect, tolerance and empathy for one another.


Sensorial exercises promote the development of the senses and the building of skills in discrimination. Children develop cognitive skills by learning to order and classify their impressions through activities in touch, sight, taste, smell, listening and exploring the physical properties of their environment.


Identifies the primary, secondary and tertiary colors.

Distinguishes and grades shades of color.


Able to identify with accurate terms all the forms in the Geometric Cabinet.

Names accurately all the Geometric Solids.

Constructs shapes using Constructive Triangles.


Discriminates and uses accurate terms for dimension.

Able to build Trinomial Cube without pattern matching.


Visually matches and grades accurately.

Matches and grades sounds accurately.

Discriminates by matching and grading textures accurately.

Discriminates by matching and grading smells accurately.

Discriminates by matching and grading sounds accurately.


Montessori math activities help children learn and understand abstract mathematical concepts through manipulating concrete materials. Children get a solid foundation in basic mathematics principles, preparing them for later abstract reasoning, and helping them to develop problem solving capabilities.

Numbers One through Ten

Knows the number names for zero through ten, both in sequence and at random.

Understands the concept of zero.

Identifies which numbers are odd and even.

Introduction to the Decimal System

Associates the quantities and the number symbols for the Golden Bead material.

Able to associate the quantities and symbols in order from 1-9000 and understands the concept of place value.

Composes and reads accurately numbers from one to nine hundred ninety nine.

Operations of Number

Understands and describes the process of addition and subtraction as well as multiplication and division.

Able to add, subtract, multiply and divide with the Golden Beads without exceeding nine in any category (static).

Able to convert ten of one category to one of the next highest category.

Performs necessary changes for dynamic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division using the Golden Bead material.

Able to add, subtract, multiply and divide with the Stamp Game without exceeding nine in any category (static).

Performs necessary changes for dynamic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division using the Stamp Game material.

Sequence of Number

Can identify colored bead bars 1-9 quickly as a result of frequent use.

Is able to count to 100, and knows the number names for teens and tens.

Has skip counted square and cube chains.

Combinations of Number

Has begun the memorization of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts.


Can identify by name the pieces of the fraction insets and can compose fractions using the insets.


Able to tell time on the hour and on the half hour.


Sensorial experience with linear measure such as inches, feet and yards.

Sensorial experience with volume measures such as quarts, pints, cups, half cups, third of a cup, quarter of a cup, tablespoons, and teaspoons.

Sensorial experience with measures of weight including balance beam and units such as pounds and ounces.


The Montessori activities build skills in sound discrimination, prepare the hand for writing, encourage the development of written expression and lay a foundation of phonetic skills that prepare the child for reading.

Preparation for Reading and Writing

Able to identify component sounds in words, initial sound and ending sound.

Has done extensive work with metal insets and can draw and fill shapes with skill.

Memorized many sandpaper letters, both individual and phonogram sounds.

Can build both phonetic and non phonetic words using the Moveable Alphabet.

Can write individual letters in print or cursive on a chalkboard.

Reading Skills

Can sort letters by shape and place them in correct position on lines.

Has developed pencil grip, lightness of touch and isolated wrist movements sufficiently to form letters on paper.

Reads phonetic 3 and 4 letter words.

Knows some phonograms and their variations and recognizes them in words.

Has memorized basic sight words.

Understands the function of basic parts of speech such as the article, adjective, noun and verb.

Reads and matches labels in environment and to classified cards.

Can read a short booklet of phonetic and sight words.

Understands the function of the period and question mark in reading and writing.


Lessons in botany expose the child to a wide scope of activities intended to promote interest and encourage reverence for living things.

Participated in activities in the garden including planting, caring for young plants, harvesting and composting.

Introduced to the basic parts of the plants; roots, stem, branches and leaves.

Exposed to the cycle of growth in plants.

Classification and Zoology

Lessons in classification and zoology expose the child to a wide scope of activities intended to promote interest and encourage reverence for living things.


Able to classify living and non living things.

Identifies and gives examples of the characteristics of living things:

All living things need food

All living things move in some manner

All living things growth and change

All living things reproduce

All living things need oxygen

Able to classify living things into the three basic kingdoms of plant, animal, or mineral.


Has experience caring for animals.

Able to identify and give examples of the basic characteristics of animals:

All animals have a characteristic size.

All animals have a characteristic covering.

All animals have characteristic movements.

All animals eat specialized food.

All animals have a characteristic habitat.

Understands the basic differences between vertebrates and invertebrates.

Classifies and identifies vertebrates in the five basic groups: fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds.


Lessons in geography expose the child to a wide scope of activities intended to promote interest and encourage respect and understanding of different people and cultures. 

Knows the names of the continents and major oceans.

Identifies basic land forms (island, lake, peninsula, gulf) introduced to isthmus, strait, and their variations (cape, bay, archipelago, system of lakes) and introduced to real names for some of them on maps.

Familiar with maps of each continent and knows many names of nations.

Exposed through picture material to different continents and countries around the world and their general characteristics such as the people, animals, plants, geological features, scenery, and places of interest .

Knows the name of own country, state and city.

Knows names of some states.

Introduced to weather conditions (clear, partly cloudy, rain, snow) and can recognize their symbols.

Introduced to flags of the world.


Lessons in history expose the child to a wide scope of activities intended to promote interest and integrate a sense of time in their understanding other subjects.

Understands and names the different seasons of the year.

Is able to name and describe the weather conditions, condition of and activities of plants and animals during the four seasons.

Knows the names of the days of the week and introduced to months of the year.

Exposed to keeping track of time using a calendar.

Exposed to the sequence of a time line, such as own life represented in pictures or the growth cycle of a plant or animal.

Exposed to the history of time measurement, the concept of a day, hours in the day.

Exposed through picture material to cultural history and the fundamental needs of humans around the world

Basic:      Food, Clothing, Shelter

Spiritual:  Art, Music, Communication,

Love, Vanity

Material:  Protection, Transportation

Introduced to seeds and germination.

Understands the function of and basic types of roots.

Understands the function of the stem.

Understands the function of the leaf and its knows the basic parts.

Has had a sensorial introduction to leaf shapes and classifications with Botany Cabinet.

Has had a sensorial introduction to parts of a flower.

Understands the types and function of the fruit.

Montessori Psychology: Key Characteristics of Adolescence

The Emotive Mind

Social development is guided by an “emotive” mind, a combination of inabilities, or purely abstract propositions. This quality of thought may be the reason why adolescents naturally object, argue and analyze many of the issues they are confronted with.

Tender, Gawky Body

In this plane of development rapid physical growth is matched only by that in infancy. Hormonal changes bring about sexual maturity, the development of secondary sexual characteristics, and the capacity to reproduce. The rate of growth differs dramatically from individual to individual. During this period adolescents are prone to illness and a lack of energy.

Vulnerable Emotionally and Physically

Physical changes occur in hormonal growth spurts, causing an emotional awkwardness as well as a lack of physical coordination. Adolescents are easily tired, and change their routine for sleep, awakening later and sleeping more than in late childhood. Adolescents develop an acute concern about their body, which causes a painful period of self- consciousness.

Now in a Historical Context

The history of humankind provides the context for exploring society and all its elements as a preparation for adulthood. By exploring human history the adolescent can connect the present to the past by comparing and contrasting how others have made their mark on society. In this way, the adolescent nds her place and becomes the dynamic link between the past and the future.

Humanistic Explorer of Society

Like in early childhood, exploration must be reality-based, but for the adolescent the world to explore is much wider. The adolescent needs to be initiated into the adult world. Maturity is assured through opportunities to investigate adult roles while doing the work of adults. There is a keen interest in participating in a community through meaningful and contributory work.

Social Order

At this stage of development adolescents have a strong sensitivity to social order, which helps them to relate their own personal experiences and discover relationships between people. It is an age of camaraderie and intense relations with peers. A strong sense of identity with the group emerges, a longing to belong to the current culture and a new role in the family constellation takes place.

Repeats to Interpret

They repeat for mastery so that they are perceived as capable in relation to their peers. This repetition also takes them to a level of interpretation, allowing them to transform an activity through thoughtful and sometimes critical scrutiny.

Societal Directives

Adolescents adapt their own attitudes, mores and values by questioning parental and societal attitudes as well as confronting the status quo.

People are Personal

Adolescence is a time of emerging moral and ethical sensitivity in relations with peers and adults. This sensitivity makes them critically evaluate adults and examine each other. It is a period of heightened sexual awareness in relations to their peers, as evidenced in both a unique solidarity with peers and intense emotional relations. The development of empathy at this age is of critical importance for maturity.

Montessori Psychology: Key Characteristics of Middle Childhood

The Reasoning Mind

The key characteristic of the second plane child is the high level of independent thinking and the rapid growth of his powers to reason and go beyond his own reactions. This vast power of the intellect makes him able to be especially receptive to intellectual learning and abstract thought.

Strong, Long Legs

In this period the body of the child reaches ideal proportions. The rate of growth slows during middle childhood. Physical activity promotes cognitive development and refines control and coordination of movement. Children in this stage have few barriers to physical activity.

Healthy and Resilient

This is a period where the child is the healthiest he will ever be in his life and his energy and endurance know no bounds. He has a “can-do” attitude when it comes to physical challenges and his achievements promote his sense of self worth and independence.


The child at this stage focuses in on key personalities and engages them with a fervor, which has been called hero worship. In fact, the child is adopting models for social behavior and his imagination is encouraged by these experiences. History becomes an important tool for both intellectual and social exploration.

Intellectual Education

Due to the unique powers of the intellect and the vigor of health, the child in the second plane of development engages in tireless work of enormous proportions. It is the quality of BIG that he likes, and he is called to activity that develops into greatness. The child gives his maximum exertion and effort to these formative activities.

Imaginative Explorer Beyond the Here and Now

At this stage of development the child finds the most useful tool to enter into society is the use of his imagination. Given a rich and varied perceptual experience in the first plane, the child now capitalizes on his wealth of memory and relates these basic concepts to the wider world. The educational method for this plane stimulates the imagination and allows it to bring out the child’s mental prowess.

Mental Order

The powers of logic develop as he relates his imagination to the relationship of things and predicates outcomes without physical evidence. The final abstraction of his cognitive skills is evidenced in his mastery of language and especially communication. Through reading and writing he learns the way to preserve and communicate his thoughts for history, and this strikes a chord and engages his intellect.

People are Social

The child at this age feels an identity and attraction to his peers, which creates a unique social bonding during this plane. The so-called herd instinct is manifest in the child as a special social closeness and affection for others. What fascinated the young child in physical details now is directed towards relationships. Social awareness is keen.

Explores Objective Standards Moral Development

There is a strong urge in this plane for the clarification of values and an intelligent understanding of the rules, which must be conformed to. There is much questioning and emotional involvement in this process, the child actively engages socially with his peers in the same enthusiastic way he did in the preschool with individual activities.

People Are Social

A fundamental challenge of the second plane is to gain control and coordination of the personality so that it may fit in to the social conditions the child encounters. To do this the child explores the emotional and spiritual values of his peers and heroes, gaining valuable insight and promoting healthy personality growth. His actions must now be responsible not only to himself, but must contribute to the larger group he lives with. He discovers interdependency, and seeks to fulfill his social potential by constructively contributing to the community.

Montessori: A Philosophy of Education

Times have changed, and science has made great progress, and so has our work; but our principles have only been confirmed, and along with them our conviction that mankind can hope for a solution to its problems, among which the most urgent are those of peace and unity, only by turning its attention and energies to the discovery of the child and to the development of the great potentialities of the human personality in the course of its formation.” (From the foreword to “The Discovery of the Child”, Poona 1948)

Many who observe the daily peacefulness in a Montessori classroom wonder at how an idea born at the turn of the century can be so relevant today. Many of the “progressive models” of current education have adopted components of the approach and methodology employed by Dr. Montessori in her first schools. Our schools remain relevant for the 21st century child because Montessori was both a visionary and a practical scientist.

I believe that this truth grows from Montessori philosophy based on the principle of community. The multi aged grouping of the Children’s House community is built upon respect for oneself, for peers and for the community at large. In this community values are lived, grace and courtesy are routine, and a common spirit of love and sharing, hospitality, cooperation, help, and assistance binds the community in noble work.

This is an educational community for children in which each child has the time, means and scope of activity to fully develop and realize his/her potential.

In the Children’s House the necessary time is dictated by the child’s need for exactness and repetition. There is time for process, and the fixing of one’s attention on a key experience that engages a unique concentration and promotes the necessary repetition to imprint the experience within the personality. In this way knowledge is learned with enthusiasm and guided through hands-on experience. Inspiration and motivation is intrinsic in the experience.

This community has breadth of content that insures the child has the richness of scope and understanding to interrelate and apply knowledge. In this way the children learn quickly and with such enthusiasm that new knowledge sparks and renews the learning process, creating the “touchstone effect”. Content and process merge, interrelationships become clear, and sensibilities are solidified.

Mutual respect allows for a freedom of activity that develops responsible independence and encourages diversity. This aids the child to look beyond his own needs and see those of others and the world around him. He ponders the wondrous nature of all things with enough imagination to explore his part in the universal order. He discovers that knowledge unlocks the keys to the universe and his mind expands. He learns to respect and admire the achievements of others, both around him and in history. All of this leads to a naturally well-developed child attune to his culture and the ecology of life.

In the Children’s House community the child understands that each one of us is dependent on others and each must make a contribution for the betterment of all. Participation in this model learning community enables the child to eventually adapt to society, knowing that each individual’s adaptation takes the highest form by the special contribution he can make to his fellow man. This membership is both personally satisfying and socially rewarding. The educational outcome guides the child to their vocation, the place where the world’s needs and their talents intersect.

This community provides the means for the individual uses to acquire knowledge and experience which comes through special work, or relevant and important activity, where the personality is nourished and allowed to develop without constant adult imposition. In the youngest, human nature guides the individual to do those things that are naturally good for him or herself.  Respect is given to the child’s unconscious prompts or urges, eventually encouraging the development of the individual will and self-discipline.  The special Montessori content for the older children in this educational community is the means by which they gain an admiration towards their culture. They are inspired with pride and a sense of privilege in belonging to humanity. This sentiment is aroused in the child by showing him the interrelatedness of all things in nature, but especially in the world of man.

Montessori Psychology: Key Developmental Characteristics of Early Childhood

The Absorbent Mind

Intellectual development is guided by the “absorbent mind”, the special psychic capacity the child has to take in the whole as well as all of the details of the world around him. Images are stored in a special kind of subconscious memory, forming engrams of knowledge that await the emergence of the conscious mind. Through the absorbing quality of the mind the child is able to take in and inculcate the culture that he grows up in, truly becoming a full member of his community. The growing number of constructive experiences that the child has prompts the will and conscious mind to emerge.

Soft, Short Limbed/Easily Sick

The physical characteristics of the child are distinct in the 1st plane of development. The body is chubby and soft. The limbs are short, and the proportion of the body is not fully formed. It is a time of rapid growth. The child is often sick, as he builds up his resistance to illness that comes from increased social contacts. It is a period of great physical achievement, with mastery of control and coordination of movement being the prime focus. In the 1st plane of development the child refines his senses while his growing perceptual abilities provide the means by which he absorbs new experiences.

Here and Now/Reality Based Education

During this period the child is urged by inner guides to be active and inquisitive. She explores the environment with her senses, latching on to the physical, tangible and concrete. Dr. Montessori believed that this is a time of reality based education, and that the imagination has not yet emerged.

Sensorial Explorer

Sensitive periods are evidence of the guiding inner inclinations the child has to acquiring human traits. Of key importance are the sensitivities to order, human speech, and the development of the conscious will that allows the child to exercise freedom of choice.

External Order

The child has a strong sensitivity to order, which helps him to relate experiences and discover relationships between things. The young child responds dramatically to events or routines which are changed or are not done in the way the child is used to. This is because the child’s experiences help her to get a grip on reality. Without consistency and order the child will struggle in understanding key relationships that are fundamental to her growth.


The 1st plane of development is a time of repetition for mastery, with brief but intense periods of concentration on specific activities which are self constructive.

Moral Directives

Moral development on this plane is an era of obedience, first to inner urges, and later to adult direction which builds awareness of what is good and bad. The child questions little, but strongly follows inner directives.

People are Environmental

Social development takes the form of ego centric behavior in which the child’s social awareness builds only with his mental growth. His real focus is on developing his individuality. Loose friendships are created and the child prefers to work alone or in small groups.

Notes from “Deep Dive” on the Topic of Adolescent Observation


Denver, Colorado

On  October 20, 2018 at the First Adolescent Colloquium in Denver Colorado, a group of talented Montessorians were assembled to aid in the development of content for the first sanctioned AMI Adolescent training. There were young and old skilled practitioners lending their experiences to structured conversations, aptly named “Deep Dives”.  

Our topic was “observation” but after our discussions, you can see that we have modified that to “scientific observation”. Our group was made up both of people who intentionally chose this topic, and those who left the selection up to fate. And I think because of that, it seems we were able to have a truly robust conversation. The participants were: Ben Moudry, Juan Cordova, Tina Booth, Grae Baker, Jacqui Miller, Katy Myers, Kate Barrack, Rachel Balkcom, Ali Scholes, and myself, Paul Raymond.


Initially, several of us thought “Observation”? We know how to do this. We’re Montessorians. It’s what we do. How will we discuss this for five hours?” But as we dug into this topic, we came to some rather stunning conclusions about the nature of observation in the third plane, some of which tie deeply into a later discussion regarding the increased need for social justice and a more immediate recognition of our individual privileges.

Dr. Montessori was very clear about our task. “Education is an aid to life.” And how we manifest that work is through the process of observation.

Observe first, respond second.

But observation does not occur in a vacuum. We all exist within a culture and society and we must recognize our individual biases before attempting to analyze our observations. Additionally, we must remember that we, ourselves, are a material of the prepared environment.

In the first plane, we teach young children, explicitly, how to observe the work of others; how to stand, how to look. In the third plane, no such explicit lesson exists. Yet, when we spoke to our student guest at the colloquium, her responses revealed that while she was not aware that she had become a good observer, it was a fundamental skill she had acquired anyway.

In that regard, our discussions led us to profound realizations about the nature of observation during the third plane, how it connects to the Human Tendencies, and how, because we are a material in the environment, the skill of observation looks quite different when considering adolescents who are now capable of metacognition. Observation with adolescents is no longer a one-way mirror, and our work with them, must change us as well.

So while our process is scientific, the effect is also a spiritual one that will inevitably alter the adult. Most fittingly, at the end of our discussion, Tina shared this beautiful quote:

“The first step in becoming a Montessori teacher is to shed omnipotence and to become a joyous observer. If the teacher can really enter into the joy of seeing things being born and growing under his own eyes and clothe himself in the garment of humility, many delights are reserved for him that are denied to those who assume infallibility and authority in front of the class” (To Educate the Human Potential 85)

The complete article can be found in pdf. format in the right hand margin of the site…