What is a Montessori education for children?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  August 12

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Maria Montessori was one of the first female doctors in Italy. But she was also a pedagogue, anthropologist and teacher.

The first Dutch Montessori class started in 1916, following a visit by Maria to the Netherlands. There, children were free to choose their own work, depending on their individual stage of development.

But what is a Montessori education for children?

What is a Montessori education for children?

Maria Montessori's world-famous statement: 'Help me do it myself' summarizes in a nutshell what Montessori education is all about. The starting point is that a child has a natural urge for self-development. The educators must first understand and respond to a child's needs by providing the appropriate environment and materials.

In the Netherlands we liked this method and we enthusiastically founded many Montessori schools, and the Dutch factory that makes the original Montessori materials exports them all over the world.

But what exactly does giving a Montessori education at home mean? Read this article for all the answers to your Montessori questions!

What are the principles of Montessori?

Let's first look at the basic principles on which the Montessori philosophy is based:

  1. Independence
  2. Individualized learning
  3. Freedom of movement and choice
  4. Respect for the child
  5. Intrinsic motivation
  6. Absorbent mind
  7. Sensitive period
  8. Raising the whole child
  9. car education

Principle 1 – Independence

Children are able and willing to self-educate when given the right stimulus. The ultimate goal is independence.

You help your child grow if you are willing to help them to overcome, to be successful in everyday things, but certainly not by doing everything for them.

Principle 2 – Individualized Learning

Each child learns based on their unique stage of development, interests and needs. Educators follow the child's progress and support them in this.

Offering experiences that support their intellectual, physical, emotional and social development is essential.

In addition to language and arithmetic, many practical things are discussed, such as sensory perception and culture. Truly all aspects of development are considered equally important.

Principle 3 – Freedom of Movement and Choice

The basic idea is 'order in environment and mind'. A space where everything has a purpose and a place is great for a child. It helps to develop logical thought processes.

Within this space, children are free to follow their interests and learn at their own pace. They learn best when they are free to move, choose their own work and follow their interests.

Principle 4 – Respect for the child

Respect every child, respect their freedom to choose, to move, to correct themselves. Montessori educators treat children with genuine respect.

Principle 5 – Intrinsic motivation

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Learning is its own reward. Children get a sense of accomplishment when they complete an activity and learn to do it themselves.

Principle 6 – Absorbent mind

The first 6 years of life are crucial in a child's development. During this period, the child has a
'absorbent mind', the child absorbs information from his environment like a sponge.

During this period, children quickly develop an understanding of their culture and world, and lay the foundations of their intelligence and personality.

Principle 7 – Sensitive Period

Children go through specific stages in their development when they are most able to learn specific skills.

Characteristics of sensitive periods are: focus, dedication to a task, repetition, and long periods of concentration.

Principle 8 – Raising the Whole Child

This involves providing learning experiences that support intellectual, physical, emotional and social development.

The emphasis is not only on language and arithmetic, but also on practical life, sensory perception and culture.

Everything is intertwined in a natural way and are considered equally important.

Principle 9 – Automotive Education

Children are able and willing to educate themselves, provided they are given interesting learning incentives. Through educational and beautiful materials they are able to educate themselves.

Montessori educators/parents provide the prepared environment and encouragement.

Read also: Give compliments to your child | Expert advice & fun playing tips

What are the Montessori stages?

What are the stages in a Montessori education?

We can teach our children a new skill in three stages.

They will go up and down between these phases, until over time they have mastered a skill and it becomes a completely natural pattern of behavior for them.

Stage 1 – under 3 years old (babies, toddlers)

They are introduced to a new activity and need help to do the activity correctly.

For example, as a parent, you could help your child to fall asleep independently at night.

Getting a child to obey naturally is what Maria Montessori calls 'joyful obedience'.

It is only normal that your child falls back a few times to the first phase of the step-by-step plan and that is sometimes quite difficult. However, persevere and above all help him to move on.

Before our children can be obedient, they must first be able to control their own urges and needs.

Self-control is something that children younger than toddlers have trouble with in the beginning, really obeying the parents is difficult for a toddler.

Do you want to teach your child something new? Then he must first:

also look at my complete milestones guide: playing and learning with your baby at 52 weeks

Stage 2 – between 3 and 6 years (toddlers, preschoolers)

Children have mastered the activity, but sometimes need a mnemonic to take the initiative.

Between 3 and 6 years, the child has control over his body and is ready to follow directions, especially of his own will. It is very helpful at this stage, and does not want to disappoint anyone.

The child has sensory experiences, perceives the environment and already knows many words.

Stage 3 – between 6 and 12 (also called “joyful obedience”)

Children know what to do and do it easily, without asking.

Between the ages of 6 and 12 they develop their knowledge and gain insight into the culture in which they live. They become social and pay attention to things like norms, values ​​and rules.

The child has developed a high level of self-esteem by now.

He likes to make good choices on his own, but it's always good of you to observe how he handles these choices and, if necessary, adjust and encourage him.

Read also: How do children learn to play and socialize together?

How do you raise your children through the Montessori method?

What are the principles of Montessori and how do you raise children with the Montessori method

You want to raise your child very consciously by showing respect for each other in the family, as a parent you want to develop the creativity of your little one and teach him to make decisions in complete freedom.

Then the Montessori method of parenting will suit you.

When raising in the Montessori philosophy you want your child to develop self-confidence, so:

There are adults in this world who see the relationship between them and their child as an authoritarian one, in which the child must obey.

Decisions are then made at home for the child, without involving him, and let that be so important!

The point is that your child gains self-confidence throughout his life, partly by letting him do chores and making his mistakes.

Mention what is really not allowed and offer him one or two alternatives.

How do Montessori schools work?

In Montessori education – primary, secondary education, but also daycare centers – children must feel safe and be allowed to develop according to their social-emotional and personal growth.

Children learn to behave responsibly towards other children.

The task of the teacher at a Montessori school is helping children to work themselves. He should arouse the interest of students, encourage them and present the material.

The teacher must be a human being, sensitive and full of interest in his students.

In this way, during the primary school period, children become aware of themselves and their social role in their environment. Everyone treats each other with respect.

You don't hurt each other and you don't bully each other, there is no verbal abuse between them.

Everyone is addressed by their own name and everyone is responsible for a good atmosphere at school.

Communication and things like positive appreciation are important. This principle also applies to secondary Montessori education.

Montessori materials at school

The starting point of Maria Montessori is that all functions must be practiced, through mental and physical exercise, so that the child functions in its entirety.

Can you feel the child correctly? I think that is an important task that really belongs to this way of education.

Age guidelines are provided for each Montessori material and toys.

At school, the child works with specially designed Montessori teaching materials.

The focus is on fun (especially sensory) material that invites you to play and 'do it yourself'. The child will discover and experience things for himself.

For the young child, for example, inlay figures, letter boxes, scent tubes and a tactile box are very important toys.

The best Montessori toys for the home

Montessori toys appeal to multiple senses at the same time. Children learn not only by listening and observing, but also by feeling, tasting and smelling. The toys are always made of sustainable and natural materials and safe.

Rather let your child play with a realistic toy, as with things that we also use in the adult world. Always make sure that the toy is appropriate for your child's needs and developmental level.

Stimulating play materials for different ages may include the following:

Best Montessori Toys For Baby Up To 2-3 Years

Montessori toys - from baby to 2-3 years fabric colors ball

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For example, you can stimulate the development of all baby's senses with a fabric rainbow ball. They can see colours, feel the different fabrics and textures with their hands.

The cloth ball crackles, squeaks, rustles and clatters. A world opens up for them!

Check the latest prices here
Best Montessori Toys For Baby Up To 2-3 Years Ball Drop Object Permanence

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Later, your little one will practice his hand movements at home with the Baby Ball Drop and thus stimulate the development of his hand, wrist and fingers.

It also teaches them what it feels like to succeed when they achieve a goal on their own, it gives them a sense of freedom!

Check the latest prices here

Best Montessori toys for 3-6 years

For example, by handling different materials such as buttons, hooks, zippers, buckles, laces, etc., the child learns to dress independently.

Best Montessori Toys For 3-6 Years Busy Bag Board For Fine Motor Skills

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With this Busy Bag with which children can try out everything.

Check the latest prices here

Best Montessori toys for 6-12 years

Best Montessori toys for 6-12 years geo board

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For elementary school children, there are materials that prepare them for math; geometric shapes like abacuses, beads, measuring materials, everything made of wood.

A geo board is a good example.

Check the latest prices here

There are writing practice boards, letters and numbers.

But parents… don't be surprised if children in class are allowed to play with things like leaves, rice or pasta, or to tighten screws with tools.

Look, that's just pulling out all the stops for their development!

also look at my post about the cutest toys with locks

What are the disadvantages of Montessori?

Of course there are a few disadvantages and maybe this system is suitable for one child and not another child.

Some children are assertive (sometimes even a bit too bossy) and show initiative more easily, while you see that other children do not dare to do so.

A few disadvantages of a Montessori approach:

The transition of the groups at primary school is different from that at regular primary school.

For example, often only a few children move on to the next group while the rest remain in place, so that a few children have to leave the 'old' group behind.

The Education Inspectorate also sets higher requirements than a few years ago. The Montessori schools are also obliged to take CITO tests, while this does not fit with the idea.

The child is therefore no longer completely released, because it must meet a certain level, especially in terms of reading, writing and arithmetic.

Fortunately, the connection with regular secondary education runs more smoothly, according to most teachers.

The Montessori method offers great freedom, and timid children may not find it easy.

Teachers note more than once that after the atmosphere that prevails in Montessori groups, the child can hardly get used to the rules of ordinary education.

Read also: Toddler prefers to play alone, not with peers

Montessori bedroom

You would like to create a bedroom for your child according to the Montessori principles. Then you will have to adhere to a number of principles.

So I would like to give you 3 tips:

These 3 principles make or break the Montessori bedroom. Furthermore, of course, ensure a safe environment and make it something beautiful!

So a Montessori bed is a mattress without restrictive fencing, close enough to the floor for the child to get in and out of on their own.

A bed on the floor gives the child independence and responsibility for their environment at home.

What age is a Montessori bed for?

Parents usually move their child to a bed on the floor between 5-10 months of age, although some start as early as 2 months, preferably before your baby starts to roll over.

However, it is also fine to wait until your child is a toddler.

Montessori FAQs

Do Montessori students perform better?

Not necessarily, a study found that benefits have been seen in kindergartens in the US but not in secondary education in the Netherlands.

What are Montessori teachers called?

They are called 'leader' or 'leader' and usually by their first name, which has nothing to do with showing no respect for the teacher.

Is Hape a Montessori toy?

many toys from Hape's collection is indeed suitable as a Montessori toy

What are fun Montessori activities?

By now I have seen that a Montessori education is not about raising child prodigies. It's about making your child a happy and good person.

Read also: Pedagogy for parents | Is it something to learn for your family?

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Speelkeuze.nl is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child, he came into contact with everything around games when his mother started the Tin Soldier in Ede. Since 2016, he and his team have been creating helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.