The Defining Characteristics of Montessori

How do we know when the Montessori method is being done correctly? We will see certain results in the children we work with. Here are some of the outcomes of authentic Montessori:

1. Children will show respect to others
2. Children will be interested in cultural diversity and learning about other cultures
3. Children will be able to adapt easily to a wide variety of circumstances
4. Children will see the cosmic connection between curricular areas
5. Children will have a strong sense of self and value individuality
6. Children will demonstrate independent choices
7. Children will value and extend freedom of choice
8. Children will be drawn to hands-on learning and real life experiences
9. Children will love to work
10. Children will take good care of themselves
11. Children will demonstrate spontaneous concentration
12. Children will exercise self-discipline
13. Children will internalize the lessons of grace and courtesy
14. Children will be self-motivated
15. Children will demonstrate initiative
16. Children will be drawn to the prepared environment
17. Children will learn from the didactic materials
18. Children will show a strong sense of order
19. In mixed age groups, older children will teach the younger children
20. Children will show refinement of the senses
21. Children will have excellent fine and gross motor skills
22. Children will teach themselves
23. The teacher will be a facilitator of learning

Wow, can you believe what can be accomplished through the Montessori method? It’s an extensive, comprehensive list. Could an environment be “Montessori” without having some of the things on this list? I think the answer is a qualified yes, although taking one or more away will always leave you with less than the Montessori ideal.

Are any of them more important than the others? Certainly the first 10 stand out as the most obvious, observable qualities of a Montessori environment. But the others are also necessary to the growth of a healthy, well-rounded child.

I’m going to keep this list in mind as I homeschool this next year, and make sure I’m focusing equally on every quality listed here – not just materials or workplans.

Most of the questions I get from people who are new to Montessori are about where to find materials or albums, but this list is a great reminder that Montessori is about a lot more than that. A perfect example: children walking on the line, perfecting concentration, listening abilities, and gross motor skills; purposeful movement and refinement of the senses, all wrapped up in one activity.

For a more detailed look at the outcomes of Montessori, check out this post: Sterling Qualities of the ‘Normalized’ Montessori Child.