The Montessori Educational Approach. The Connection to an Emerging Mighty Learner.

Listen to the sounds of children talking, playing and exploring. Pause. Let the child take flight in his or her natural impulses and engage in a journey of self-discovery. As explained in Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory of child development, “the importance of environmental influences, settings, and institutions” are critical in “children’s lived experiences” (Dietze et Kashin, 2016, p. 28). In a Montessori driven environment, children’s lived experiences are influenced by their social interactions with purposeful materials designed to stimulate their cognitive development. By providing the space for every child in a Montessori classroom to work alongside each other in solo or parallel activities, the psychological needs of toddlers and preschoolers for individualization are cultivated as they grow into rich social beings.

Choice and control

Capturing the sensitive period with moment-to-moment analytical experience, the Montessori environment empowers a child with freedom and mobility to find meanings in a purposeful environment.

With the knowledge of the child as an autonomous social being, the Montessori environment provides sufficient freedom for child-led discovery in a well-structured meaningful environment. When a child is in control of his learning experience, he would feel inspired with his intrinsic motivation to experiment among different purposeful materials through the Montessori environment as the third teacher. “Dr Montessori noted that children thrive on having choice and control in their environment and she envisioned development as a process of a child being increasingly independent of his environment”(Lillard, 2005, p. 30). The Montessori Approach respectfully enables every single child with freedom of choice within limits in an unstructured purposeful environment, a direct contrast to a regular classroom setting where a child awaits information to be directed from an adult educator. In a Montessori driven environment, the child is a motivated doer who initiates his own activity like a young scientist.

Like a village community

An older child would naturally help a younger child in a Montessori classroom. Like a village community, a wide age span of children in a single classroom is grouped together. Despite the lack of deliberate joint or teamwork activities, a warm community feel is naturally created with children of 3 to 6 years interacting together in the same classroom. Effective role-modeling takes shape as the younger child looks up to the older child as an example while the older child leads and guides the younger child through different purposeful materials or activities.

Freedom of accessibility

Child-sized furniture is meticulously arranged to encourage mobility and independence. Materials are aesthetically displayed in low level shelves to encourage accessibility in a purposeful environment. Children have freedom to access the different segments in a Montessori classroom from Practical Life, Language and Arts, Geography, Sensory and Music to Mathematics. “In a Montessori environment, the children are free to move around the classroom at will and are free to choose their own activities” (NAMC, n.d, p. 50). Children are given freedom in a Montessori classroom to actively construct knowledge with their hands. As Dr Montessori said, what the hands do to their minds.

Love and repetition of order

Founded on an environment that instills love and repetition of order, the Montessori environment thrives on a stable and organized routine with rhythm of predictability to enforce a sense of security for young children. With a unique combination of providing structure in an unstructured environment, the Montessori environment taps onto children’s psychological needs by fulfilling certainty in their daily schedule, yet satisfying their curiosity to explore in a self-directed environment.

The defining magical moments

Through continuous hands-on practice with a vast selection of materials, the combination of experiences eventually lead to a child’s magical moments as his or her distinctive skills lead to major milestones and completion of tasks such as writing, reading or simply buttoning his own shirt. Dr Montessori (n.d) noted that, “our care for the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light called intelligence”(as cited in Bauerlein, 2015). By providing uninterrupted access in the work and materials in a Montessori driven environment, the child not only fosters a sense of autonomy but also develops the sparkles to stir his imagination with meaningful activities.

Role of a Montessori educator

In a Montessori environment, the educator is the link to the classroom, materials and other students. Instead of dictating a curriculum regardless of a child’s capacity, the educator only introduces concepts to a child when he or she is ready to learn in his own terms. Never would a teacher interfere with a child’s choice of materials or activities. On the contrary, the educator focuses on individual experiences with every single child while encouraging deep concentration with their hands, and materials.

The connection to an emerging mighty learner

Consciously scaffolding the unique development of every single child by drawing on his or her intrinsic motivation to shine, the Montessori Approach values and respects the different pace of progression. Children learn by actively engaging and seeking with their hands. “The Montessori Education is designed to awakened interest” and leverage on their intrinsic motivation to strive beyond their potential (Lillard, 2005, p. 114). In a predictable, dynamic and secure environment that celebrates individualism, a child nurtured in a Montessori classroom would evolve and become an emerging mighty learner in a meaningful environment. “Supportive environments for children are key, both to reduce their exposure to toxic stress and to create buffers of support to make stressful life events more tolerable” (AFWI, n.d). By giving the child a sense of importance with freedom, choice and control in a purposeful environment with caring educators who respect the child’s psychology, a young absorbent mind is nurtured with strong environmental influences as he or she flourishes in their inquisitive world and defines a distinctive life narrative.


AFWI. (n.d). Toxic stress: how early adversity shapes brain architecture. Alberta Family Wellness Initiative. Retrieved from

Bauerlein, J. (2015) Montessori= Creativity unleashed. TedxTalks. Retrieved from

Dietze, B. & Kashin, D. (2016). Empowering pedagogy for early childhood education. Canada: Pearson Canada Inc

Lillard, A,S. (2005). Montessori. The science behind the genius. United States of America, New York: Oxford University Press

North America Montessori Center (n.d) Theory and enrichment manual.