When we send our children off into the world of “school” we are left to ponder what they are like with other children when their parent is absent.  At about the age of 2 or 3 most children are looking for something outside of the home.  We can see this when our child wants to play with others at the park, or talk to another child at the store.  Humans are social beings so it just makes sense that our little ones will follow suit.

Watching a bug is a group activity!

If you have your child in a Montessori school you are in LUCK!  There are many opportunities for our children to be social.  They work together, talk, dance, play, learn and much more.  Many people have told me that when they think of a Montessori classroom they are put off by the fact that children are engaged in their own activities and not together.  This is done by design.  Each child in the room is interested in learning different things, some might be practicing sounds, some numbers, others shapes or refining handwriting.  The classroom is set up to meet each childs needs as they make their was through the cirruculum.  This results in individual lessons given to each child.  This does not, however, mean that the children are disconnected from each other.

sitting together reading

They spend their day freely moving around the classroom, weaving around rugs and children on the floor, choosing work, chatting, having snacks, etc.  There is A LOT of time for socialization.  As the children get older (around the age of 4) Montessori devised a whole group of lessons that need to be given in groups of 2-3 children at a time.  Children are also encouraged to go to other children for help. Yes, this means that the adult is NOT the answer, it is usually another child in the class that is sought out to help.


I love that the child’s emotional and social growth is held at the core of the Montessori method.  Learning to be patient, considerate, loving and kind.  These things are not “taught” or “imposed” by an adult.  In the Montessori classroom these are simply LIVED, leaving a harmonious group of children to be in a community together.

A Feast!

It is always fun to have celebrations with the children.  One of my favorite traditions at CMS is our Thanksgiving feast.  The children help plan the menu, make the food, decorations, and of course lots and lots of eating!  This is a great way to come together as a community and enjoy a fun morning together.

The children help make decorations

turkey decoration

They prepare all the food.

spreading jelly for sandwiches

cracking eggs for pancakes

slicing fruit

I have to admit, having children prepare all the food is NOT the most effeicient way to do this, I now know that it can take a full 10 minutes plus to spread jelly onto TWO pieces of bread! We make sure that each child gets to make something.  They each feel a great sense of pride when all the food is ready to eat.  Parents have often told me that their child talks about this day for weeks afterward.

And then… the eating!  We put all the tables together for the festivities and eat buffet style.


We can incorporate some of this into our family celebrations as well.  My two children wash and slice fruit, help make desserts and LOVE to make placemats and decorations.  I have found that this makes for happy, engaged children which means that Mom and Dad are also happy!

I look forward to our feast every year; with the school community and with my own family.

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,, or Wikipedia founder on your hands…or perhaps an Anne Frank, Gabriela Garcia Marquez, or a Jackie Kennedy Onassis (yes, all Montessori alumnae)!