Our Days

Our days seem to go by so fast!  During the mornings we have a multitude of activity going on in every direction. 2, 3, 4 and 5 year olds carrying on their chosen work, socializing, learning new lessons, the list goes on and on.

I often have my phone close by so I am able to document our time together. I love this because it gives parents a “view” into a classroom that they normally are not a part of.

I’ve decided to start a series of blog posts about our days together. What the children are doing and how we spend our time together.

Today, like every day, there was a flurry of work and discoveries going on. I love when children decide to attempt something new and are beaming when done.  They will often show their friends or me, not for approval, but just to “share the love”.

These two friends had a new lesson with metal insets (an amazingly fun exercise in handwriting by tracing geometric shapes and then coloring). When they were done we talked about how you could write your name on your work if you chose. One child said “but I’m not sure all the letters in my name”. So…. We decided to make name tags to look at.  The other child noticed that she “usually writes a big E at the end of my name because I can’t do the other one.”  The two children decided to clean up metal inset and take out chalk boards to practice

This is their outcome- both very proud of their accomplishments


The first time she tried a "smal e at the end"

The first time she tried a “smal e at the end”


"All the letters in my name"

“All the letters in my name”

Explosion into Learning

We know that children learn at all different rates.  They are interested in different subjects as the year progresses, so they often work intently in one subject then another.

The Montessori materials are all interactive- so the children learn whatever is being taught by working with the materials.  Montessori teachers LOVE repetition- and so do children!  The more they repeat with the same material the more the concept is solidified for them.  Each material prepares the child for  something- fine motor control, geometry, math, reading., and much more!


From the adult perspective it seems that children can take a LONG time to memorize or “learn” new information. We know that our children have great memories, they can remember things we said or places they went for many years.  However, it does take time for a child to integrate something new so they can regurgitate that back to us.  It takes trial and error for the child to figure it out by themselves without adult interruption.  This is where the true learning happens.  This is the beauty of the Montessori classroom.


Her first time laying out 1- 10 in order (even though some may be backwards- we will address that next time!)


Children often work with numbers, letters, shapes, scissors, etc for MANY months before they are able to recall the information, or perfect the movements needed to perform a task.  This results in this explosion that we see with our children.  They quietly work and work through the preparations and then “WOW!” now they can cut a straight line, or draw a letter, or read, or identify numbers into the thousands.


handwriting- after months of tracing sandpaper letters and chalk writing (and erasing!)


making a leap to reading books


Children learn at their own pace, we just need to sit back and trust in the fact that when they are ready, and have had the all the right preparations, it will fall into place.  Effortlessly it seems!

Learning Naturally

For children in a Montessori classroom academic learning comes easily and naturally.  They are able to follow their own rhythm and move through the set curriculum at their own pace.  This means that they all learn the alphabet, reading, numbers and math in a very different way than in other school settings.

First, each child is shown letters and numbers on an individual basis, progressing through lessons at their own pace.  This also means that the teacher  (Guide) is aware of what EACH child knows and has time to spend with every child to keep them going.  Children are shown different montessori materials, which will be highlighted in later posts, that allow the child to “learn” each concept- whether it be memorizing sounds or numbers.

Our children learn by practice with the materials.  The teacher shows each child how to use a material and then the child practices and practices and practices.  It doesn’t hurt that the materials are incredibly inviting!  They also have multiple uses- along with a variety of games that make them fun and build memory.

making cards

making cards

There are NO worksheets to tracing pages in the Montessori classroom.  Not because handwriting practice isn’t important, rather that this practice is accomplished in other ways.

Children practice handwriting when they are write a set of cards, or a story, or make a book.  They practice writing numbers when they record math equations or copy number cards to make a poster.



There are numerous math games the children play- alone or in groups that imbed the knowledge of each operation into the childs mind.  They understand that addition is putting numbers together and that division is making equal groupings.

"tens" and writing

“tens” and writing

What draws me to the Montessori method is the way that each child gets individual time with their Guide, they develop a relationship, the Guide knows (and keeps detailed records) of what each child knows and what each child needs to work on.  I love the individual approach and the time spent with every child in the community!


I love coming back to school after an extended break.  The children are all DELIGHTED to see each other again.  I often get emails from parents that their child had been asking about school….”How many more days?”

By January the children have formed their own community.  They are settled in at school and have found out alot  about each other.  They know who to ask for help getting water, or tying a bow, getting shoes on and much more.  The oldest children LOVE being the leaders in the group.  They have been in the classroom for many years now and know how things work.  The younger children look up to these “helpers” and enjoy receiving help from them.  The oldest children adore the younger children and are thankful that they have someone to “impart their knowledge to”.


Helping tie and apron

photo 3

holding fabric for a friend who is making a pillow

walking a friend to the gate for dismissal

walking a friend to the gate for dismissal

The Montessori model allows children to be in the same classroom for three years which not only has academic advantages but also social and emotional advantages.  They are allowed to move through the 3 years being the youngest, middle and eldest in the community.

Working together

Working together

polishing together

polishing together

When we arrive back at school the children will tell each other stories about what they did when they were away.  They will happily work and be thankful for being back together.



The Fuss About Montessori

The Fuss about Montessori:
Why is it so darn great, anyway?
By, Julie Vaillancourt

What’s the deal with Montessori education? Why does it always come up in conversation when people’s kids start pushing the preschool age? You’ll hear questions and comments like the following:

“What’s the difference between Montessori and Waldorf?”
“Is it really worth it to send my child to a Montessori preschool rather than a really good daycare program?”
“I don’t even know what Montessori is about, but I think it’s supposed to be really great.”

It’s true, a mystery surrounds this mad Montessori method…the Montessori mystique, if you will. Nearly every parent swears by it, most children thrive in it, and yet not one person can really explain its magic in a few simple sentences. This includes me. But I’ll give it my best go, without getting overly theoretical, which, mind you, is quite challenging for most people who have studied this complex and yet brilliantly simple discipline.

Parents praise quality Montessori education because they find that their children are generally happier. But why this happiness? Well, let’s think about a subject we know all too well: being a grown-up. Because – believe it or not – children and adults are actually the same species, so we’ve got a few things in common. In order to begin this process, I’d like you to complete a brief True or False questionnaire. Don’t worry, it’s mindlessly simple.

When you have just acquired a new skill through fulfilling work and effort, you want someone else to do it for you anyway. ( T / F )

When you are learning something new, you want to become competent in the basics and move up step by step. ( T / F )

When you walk into a messy, disorganized room, you feel less at ease than if it were orderly. ( T / F )

When someone is teaching you a practical skill, you learn by observing first and then practicing it yourself. ( T / F )

You learn best when someone tells you with words how to do something, then asks you to do it, but continues to tell you how to do it while you’re practicing it. ( T / F )

When bored or restless, you tend to succumb to behaviors or actions that you normally wouldn’t had you been busy doing something meaningful. ( T / F )

When really fascinated by something, you can spend hours on it without even noticing the time passing, and if something interrupts you or breaks your concentration, you may feel frustrated. ( T / F )

You are either always active and social or always independent and needing solitude. (T / F)

You gain more from specific and honest feedback as opposed to vague praises. (T / F)

Okay, that’s the 9-question quiz for you, and I’d like you to think about why I may have been asking those questions. I guarantee you, if you think long enough, you will be able to describe Montesssori education and why it’s so effective. Children and adults, it seems, thrive in strikingly similar conditions. But I’ll save you the effort and describe it myself in the paragraph below, and you will see how Montessori, in all its beautiful simplicity, is not so mysterious after all.

The first thing a Montessori child walks into is an orderly classroom: A place for everything and everything in its place. It is clean, peaceful, beautiful, child-sized, and bright. The activities on the shelves ascend in order from basic to complex, allowing the child to work incrementally, setting him/her up for success. Just like Starbucks, a Montessori classroom should feel predictable, consistent and safe.

The children learn to care for and maintain their surroundings, cultivating the notion that we’re all in this together. The guide is just that: a guide. He or she shows the child, individually or in small groups, the new lesson to be learned based on individualized lesson plans which address each child’s readiness and interest. The lesson is delivered slowly and deliberately, allowing the child’s spongy little mind to soak it all up.

Then the guide transfers the work to the child, observing to make sure the child can use the materials respectfully. He/she then walks away, monitoring from afar, allowing the child to experiment independently.

The child learns by doing, with few interruptions, controlling the pace. The child gains confidence through the subconscious discovery that he/she is capable of problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, and concentration. (“I did it all by myself!”) The child can ask for help from a seasoned peer or from the assistant or guide. The feedback is constructive, kind, and supportive, encouraging the child’s independence.

When the child is feeling social he/she can talk to a classmate while working at a group of tables, have snack with a friend, or join a small group activity. When the child prefers solitude, he/she can read a book in the reading corner, go out to the garden to water plants, or sit at a solo table with a favorite activity. When given the freedom to do what they love and love what they do, the children are less likely to act up and disrupt others.

To sum it all up, Maria Montessori, neither mythical nor mystic, states, “Free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the world.”

Now, who wouldn’t want to be in a classroom like that? Hopefully this unravels the mystery surrounding why Montessori education works. By integrating the otherwise dichotomous elements of freedom and structure, individuality and community, independence and guidance, choice and limits, a human being (whether adult or child) has the potential to thrive. And when we thrive, we feel happy. And when someone is happily thriving, watch out world! You may have another Google, Amazon.com, or Wikipedia founder on your hands…or perhaps an Anne Frank, Gabriela Garcia Marquez, or a Jackie Kennedy Onassis (yes, all Montessori alumnae)!