Has another parent or childcare provider told you these Montessori myths?

Despite Montessori Education growing rapidly due to greater awareness of evidence-based approaches, there are pervasive misconceptions on how Montessori classrooms operate. At Guidepost, we commit to clear, jargon-free communication to demystify this path for newcomers of all backgrounds and experiences.

The Guidepost Team

Montessori is not . . . 

An outdated model. Some schools layer in Montessori elements with conventional teaching methods on the basis that a hybrid approach is more “modern,” or “balanced,” yet ongoing research continues to find that authentic Montessori environments generate superior learning outcomes in terms of both social and emotional well-being and academic success. 

Montessori is . . .

A forward-thinking model. It was developed from a scientific approach that uncovered how children naturally learn through the stages of human development. Conventional methods of teaching were born from a need to simply systemize learning at scale, leaving little room for students to maintain agency in their learning.

  • Consider how: There are things that make us fundamentally human, and Montessori education honors these fundamentals. It adapts learning to the child, instead of asking the child to adapt to a system of learning. Montessori pedagogy is at the forefront of education reform today, and it continues to grow rapidly as a mainstream option for families around the world. 

Montessori is not . . . 

Rigid. Has anyone ever told you that Montessori kids must focus on one subject at a time, with little wiggle room to act on their interests? This is directly opposite of what happens during a Montessori work cycle.

Montessori is. . .

Flexible. Conventional methods direct a schedule when subjects are taught in increments. In Montessori, there is no “math hour” or “art hour,” children simply choose what to work on from all areas of curriculum within extended three-hour cycles. By letting children freely explore, guides spend their days personalizing lessons for each child — not standardizing them.

  • Consider how: Conventional methods are rigid because they ask all children to learn the same lessons at the same time. Same-age classrooms promote this standardization further, which is why Montessori classrooms utilize mixed-age classrooms in order to truly honor developmental needs. Children ages 3 to 6 are in a shared stage of development, as well as children 6–9, 9–12, and 12–14.
The Children's House is designed for ages 3-6, which correlates to both preschool and kindergarten.
Lower Elementary is for ages 6-9, and Upper Elementary is for ages 9-12
Mixed-age learning continues with our sister network, Academy of Thought and Industry, for middle and high school!

Montessori is not. . .

Against creativity. In early childhood Montessori programs, emphasis is placed on trusting children to freely explore more of our real, natural world. Limiting them to a world of pretend doesn’t lend a creative advantage since imaginative thinking comes from exposure to reality

Montessori is...

Patient with creativity. Montessori Guides empower children to create at their own pace, from their own thinking. This starts to boom in advanced Montessori programs when school-aged children expand upon, “I know this is real, but what else is possible?” 

  • Consider how: Montessori environments preserve agency, which is key to fostering curiosity to think critically, collaboratively — and creatively. Being told by an adult what to learn, and when, is a much greater threat to creativity.

Montessori is not. . . 

Unstructured. Some people assume Montessori schools are part of the alternative education movement, where there is freedom for the child to lead, but often without clear direction or rigorous academics. 

Montessori is. . .

By design. Children lead their learning, and Guides have flexibility to personalize lessons, but there is a robust, sequential core of foundational knowledge embedded in the curriculum, materials, and overall prepared environment. 

  • Consider how: Children are trusted to be active drivers of their learning, but they are not left to their own devices. Montessori is in the middle of the pendulum as a standalone third option between conventional and alternative schools. 

Montessori is not... 
Time-specific. Many people assume Montessori is just a preschool program, just for classrooms.

Montessori is...

Lifelong. Montessori education runs parallel to the four planes of human development, spanning our entire first 24 years of life. Since it is so much more than academics, it intersects beautifully with parenting and everyday living and can be supported outside of the classroom. 

  • Consider how: Montessori schooling empowers children to learn how to learn — rather than conditioning children to wait to be told what to learn. Not only is this shift in delivery one that activates deeper learning, it is also what genuinely fosters “a lifelong love of learning.” 

Guidepost commits to authentic Montessori learning environments in order to help each child realize their full potential. We also partner in ongoing research and industry collaboration to elevate the establishment of education at scale with our educational think tank, Montessorium. And we empower educators, caregivers, and parents of all experience levels to discover Montessori learning through The Prepared Montessorian Institute.

Meet the Author

The Guidepost Team

The Guidepost Team is a group of writers and educators dedicated to helping demystify all things Montessori.

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