Intro to Montessori: Five Principles for Every Parent

You’ve chosen a Montessori school for your child: an educational environment purposefully designed to meet their unique developmental needs. Their teacher is specifically trained to observe, putting each child in touch with exactly what they need to continue their learning journey.  Many parents have shared how a deeper understanding of Montessori philosophy helped them appreciate the inner workings of the classroom. With this short intro to Montessori, we’ll start with a little bit of history.

A Short History of Montessori

Maria Montessori was the first female physician in Italy and a leader in education. In clinical observation through her medical practice, she studied the ways children learn. She concluded that each child teaches themselves based on the environment around them. 

Later on, she would leave medical practice to found the first Casa de Bambini, or Children’s House, in Rome. In teaching in the Children’s House, she developed the methods and materials that would eventually become the Montessori method.

Intro to Montessori: Five Principles to Know

From its humble beginnings to the present day, the Montessori method of education has spread throughout the world. Maria Montessori’s progressive view of children is still relevant today. As an intro to Montessori, here are five principles to know as you embark on your own learning journey with your child.

Follow the Child

Every child is unique. Where one student masters a material easily, another may struggle. Montessori celebrates the individual by following a child-focused curriculum. Every Arbor teacher believes learning is a natural process. They guide the child’s interactions with the world around them by introducing developmentally appropriate activities that interest the child. Then, the child is given the opportunity to explore these activities at their own pace in order to gain a deeper understanding.

In a Montessori classroom, children are free to follow their interests, deeply explore a topic, and learn at their own pace. Children who are allowed to learn from mistakes, who aren’t punished for mistakes, grow into adults who aren’t afraid to try, innovate, imagine, and change the world.

Planes of Development

Children of different ages have different needs and abilities. In Montessori settings, you will hear these developmental stages referred to as planes. Our teachers make sure our classrooms are always prepared with developmentally appropriate activities and expectations according to a child’s needs at that age level. As a parent, by learning the needs of the child at each plane of development, you can assist in your child’s growth at home.

Prepared Environment

A defining aspect of Montessori is the “prepared environment.” Teachers set up the classroom to include beautiful materials, rich cultural experiences, and orderly spaces that are purposefully chosen to support the developmental needs of the children. In most Montessori classrooms, you’ll find materials in baskets, trays, or boxes arranged on shelves for easy access. Each material in the classroom is designed to teach a specific concept. 

At higher grade levels the materials may not look the same, but teachers are still working to establish a sense of order in the classroom. Consistent routines help build confidence. Adolescents are naturally chaotic, and the goal of the teachers is to help each student facilitate order in their personal space. 

Prepared environments at all levels allow for independence, exploration, and experimentation all within the limits established by the teacher to keep the children physically and emotionally safe. A Montessori classroom exists to encourage students to be active participants in their own education.


The Montessori method was created through observing children. By watching closely, teachers can prepare lessons and materials to best suit a child’s interest and growth. You, as a parent, can discover much about your child through simple observation. You will begin to notice their special interests, what skills they are trying to learn, and more.

Peace Education

A sense of community, both global and local, must be taught. At Arbor, we believe peace and kindness are the base of any quality education, and a foundation that is necessary for the progress of humanity. We take the time to teach conflict resolution, and help each child build their skills of tolerance, empathy, and respect.

At Arbor Montessori School, you can see these five principles in action (and so much more) each and every day! If you think your child will thrive in a Montessori environment, visit our admissions page to learn more.