“We cannot create observers by saying ‘observe,’ but by giving them the power and the means for this observation and these means are procured through education of the senses.”
– Maria Montessori

Parent Engagement

Looking for ways to be actively involved in your child’s education? CMMS has an empowering and inspiring parent education and engagement program that brings parents together so that they can feel connected, continue to grow in their role as parents, and support the work of their children in a school and home setting.


Looking for ways to be actively involved in your child’s education? CMMS has an empowering and inspiring parent education and engagement program that brings parents together so that they can feel connected, continue to grow in their role as parents, and support the work of their children in a school and home setting.

Whether you are a current or prospective parent, we invite you to join us for our Montessori Monday Parent Education Series.

Recordings from Past Montessori Monday Sessions:

  • Teacher as Guide / Parent as Guide: Learn more about child-centered learning, the role teachers take in the Montessori classroom, and how you can reinforce at home.
  • Math & Language in a Montessori Classroom: Dive into the meaning based learning approach used throughout all Montessori schools to convey language, as well as the hands-on materials used to teach abstract math approaches.
  • How the Montessori Method Will Shape Your Child: Explore the Montessori method and learn how to allow your child to be seen, understood, accepted for who they are, and how you can be their guide to become the best version of themselves.
  • Montessori Peace Curriculum: A peace-filled way to learn and live. Teach emotional intelligence, tolerance, and responsibility and support your child in developing confidence and resilience.
  • Montessori Practical Life: Learn strategies to help you empower and equip your child to take the lead in everyday activities and adventures.
  • The Purpose and Practice of Sensorial Activities: Learn how you can direct and encourage your child in their hands-on interactions with the world around them, using all 5 senses to explore their learning environment.
  • Beyond the Classroom: Montessori at Home: Bring Montessori principles into your home—creating an invaluable bridge to reinforcing what your child learns at school.
  • Social-Emotional Intelligence: How to teach emotional intelligence, tolerance, and responsibility to support your child in developing confidence and resilience.
  • Montessori Parent Q&A Session: CMMS Instructional Leadership Team and Administrators answer your parenting questions and chat about tangible ways to bring the Montessori method into your home.

The Early History of Montessori

Montessori education debuted in 1907 with Maria Montessori’s first school, the Casa dei Bambini, part of an urban renewal project in a low-income district of Rome. The school’s success resounded throughout Italy and additional schools soon opened in Rome and Milan. In 1909, Dr. Montessori published her landmark book, Il Metodo Della Pedagogia Scientifica Applicato All’Educazione Infantile Nelle Case Dei Bambini, known by its English title as The Montessori Method.

By 1910, news of the innovative technique had spread beyond Europe and teachers throughout the world were eager to learn it. Early Montessori educators were taught by Dr. Montessori herself. Her courses drew students from as far as Chile and Australia and within a few years there were Montessori schools on five continents.

In the United States, the fledgling movement caught on quickly. The first Montessori school opened in 1911 in Scarborough, NY, and others followed in rapid succession. Prominent figures, including Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, lent their support, and popular journals galvanized the public with articles on the “miracle children” who emerged from Montessori schools. By 1916, more than 100 Montessori schools were operating in 22 states.

Dr. Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori approach to education, was born in Italy in 1870. As a teenager she was determined to become an engineer, but later abandoned that idea in favor of studying medicine. Graduating as Italy’s first female medical practitioner, she embarked on a career in mental health. This brought her into contact with children diagnosed as educationally subnormal and excluded from the educational system. She devised special apparatus to help them learn through movement and achieved some remarkable results. Following on from this she was asked to head up a child care project for a social housing initiative, and her first “Children’s House” opened in San Lorenzo, a suburb of Rome, in 1907. Here, too, she introduced the equipment she had designed and observed the children very closely as they used it, tailoring what she provided in the environment to meet their developmental needs. There was great astonishment at the amount of learning that these pre-school children showed themselves to be capable of, not least of which was their explosion into writing. Responding to demands to explaining her method, Montessori began to write about her discoveries and to train people to work with children the way she advocated. From this time on, education became her life and she continued to develop educational theories to fit what she observed among the children in her care. For the rest of her life she traveled extensively, training, teaching, and lecturing around the world, increasingly convinced that it was only through effective education of the rising generation that universal peace could ever become a reality. She died in Holland in 1952, leaving an international legacy of Montessori schools and training centers around the world, all following the Montessori approach, transcending cultures, faiths, linguistic traditions, and political systems.


Montessori Today – by Paula P. Lillard (1996)
Describes Montessori theory and contemporary American Montessori schools serving ages ranging from birth to adulthood.

Montessori from the Start – by Paula P. Lillard and Lynn L. Jessen (2003)
What parents can do to help their youngest children in the process of self-formation.

To Educate the Human Potential – by Maria Montessori (1948)
Describes the needs of the elementary-aged child in the process of acquiring culture.

The Absorbent Mind – by Maria Montessori (1949)
Discusses the development of infants and young children from birth to three years. Gives a clear explanation of the basis of Montessori theory and method.

The Child in the Family – by Maria Montessori (1956)
A series of short essays about the child, the family, and the school, with a philosophical emphasis.

From Childhood to Adolescence – by Maria Montessori (1973)
Discusses the development and education of the child from age seven through adolescence. Includes Dr. Montessori’s thoughts on university education.

Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work – by E. M. Standing (1957)
Covers Maria Montessori’s life, how she developed Montessori education, its theoretical basis, and the worldwide growth of the Montessori movement.


What is Montessori and the Montessori method?

Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SORE-ee) education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children’s learning processes.

Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a “prepared environment” in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities.

Now, nearly a century after Maria Montessori’s first casa dei bambini (“children’s house”) in Rome, Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.

Are Montessori schools religious?

Some are, but Children’s Manor is not. Some Montessori schools, just like other schools, operate under the auspices of a church, synagogue, or diocese, but most are independent of any religious affiliation.

What are the differences between a Montessori environment and a traditional classroom?

At the under age six level, Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. The are not required to sit and listen to a teacher talk to them as a group, but are engaged in individual or group activities of their own, with materials that have been introduced to them 1:1 by the teacher who knows what each child is ready to do.

Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. After age 6, children learn to do independent research, arrange field trips to gather information, interview specialists, create group presentation, dramas, art exhibits, musical productions, science projects, and so forth.

There is no limit to what they create in this kind of intelligently-guided freedom. There no text books or adult-directed group lessons and daily schedule. There is great respect for the choices of the children, but they easily keep up with or surpass what they would be doing in a more traditional setting. There is no wasted time and children enjoy their work and study.

The children ask each other for lessons and much of the learning comes from sharing and inspiring each other instead of competing with each other.

Montessori classes place children in three-year-or-more age groups (3-6, 2.5-6, 6-12, and so on), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education

Do Montessori teachers follow a curriculum?

Montessori schools teach the same basic skills as traditional schools, and offer a rigorous academic program. Most of the subject areas are familiar—such as math, science, history, geography, and language—but they are presented through an integrated approach that brings separate strands of the curriculum together.

While studying a map of Africa, for example, students may explore the art, history, and inventions of several African nations. This may lead them to examine ancient Egypt, including hieroglyphs and their place in the history of writing. The study of the pyramids, of course, is a natural bridge to geometry. This approach to curriculum shows the interrelatedness of all things. It also allows students to become thoroughly immersed in a topic—and to give their curiosity full rein.

Do Montessori children get to play like other kids?

Of course! In addition to traditional recess they explore new things playfully on a daily basis. They watch something of interest with a fresh open mind. They enjoy the company of treasured adults and other children. They make up stories. They dream. They imagine. This impression stems from parents who don’t know what to make of the incredible concentration, order, and self-discipline that we commonly see among Montessori children.

Montessori students also tend to take the things they do in school quite seriously. It is common for them to respond, “This is my work,” when adults ask what they are doing. They work hard and expect their parents to treat them and their work with respect. But it is joyful, playful, and incredibly fun.

Why do Montessori classes group different age groups together?

Sometimes parents worry that by having younger children in the same class as older ones, one group or the other will be shortchanged. They fear that younger children will absorb the teachers’ time and attention, or that the importance of covering the kindergarten curriculum for the five-year-olds will prevent them from giving the three- and four-year-olds the emotional support and stimulation that they need. Both concerns are misguided.

  • At each level, Montessori programs are designed to address the developmental characteristics normal to children in that stage.
  • Montessori classes are organized to encompass a two- or three-year age span, which allows younger students the stimulation of older children, who in turn benefit from serving as role models. Each child learns at her own pace and will be ready for any given lesson in her own time, not on the teacher’s schedule of lessons. In a mixed-age class, children can always find peers who are working at their current level.
  • Children normally stay in the same class for three years. With two-thirds of the class normally returning each year, the classroom culture tends to remain quite stable.
  • Working in one class for two or three years allows students to develop a strong sense of community with their classmates and teachers. The age range also allows especially gifted children the stimulation of intellectual peers, without requiring that they skip a grade or feel emotionally out of place.

Can I do Montessori at home with my child?

Yes, you can use Montessori principles of child development at home. Look at your home through your child’s eyes. Children need a sense of belonging, and they get it by participating fully in the routines of everyday life. “Help me do it by myself” is the life theme of the preschooler.

Can you find ways for your child to participate in meal preparation, cleaning, gardening, caring for clothes, shoes, and toys? Providing opportunities for independence is the surest way to build your child’s self-esteem.

At the school level, many homeschooling and other parents use the Montessori philosophy of following the child’s interest and not interrupting concentration to educate their children. In school, only a trained Montessori teacher can properly implement Montessori education, using the specialized learning equipment of the Montessori “prepared environment.” Here social development comes from being in a positive and unique environment with other children — an integral part of Montessori education.

Is Montessori good for children with learning disabilities? What about gifted children?

Montessori is designed to help all children reach their fullest potential at their own unique pace. A classroom whose children have varying abilities is a community in which everyone learns from one another and everyone contributes. Moreover, multi-age grouping allows each child to find his or her own pace without feeling “ahead” or “behind” in relation to peers.

Do children have trouble adjusting to public school after Montessori school?

By the end of age five, Montessori children are normally curious, self-confident learners who look forward to going to school. They are normally engaged, enthusiastic learners who honestly want to learn and who ask excellent questions.

Montessori children by age six have spent three or four years in a school where they were treated with honesty and respect. While there were clear expectations and ground rules, within that framework, their opinions and questions were taken quite seriously.

Unfortunately, there are still some teachers and schools where children who ask questions are seen as challenging authority. It is not hard to imagine an independent Montessori child asking his new teacher, “But why do I have to ask each time I need to use the bathroom?” or, “Why do I have to stop my work right now?”

We also have to remember that children are different. One child may be very sensitive or have special needs that might not be met well in a teacher-centered traditional classroom. Other children can succeed in any type of school.

There is nothing inherent in Montessori that causes children to have a hard time if they are transferred to traditional schools. Some will be bored. Others may not understand why everyone in the class has to do the same thing at the same time. But most adapt to their new setting fairly quickly, making new friends, and succeeding within the definition of success understood in their new school.

There will naturally be trade-offs if a Montessori child transfers to a traditional school. The curriculum in Montessori schools is often more enriched than that taught in other schools in the United States.

The values and attitudes of the children and teachers may also be quite different. Learning will often be focused more on adult-assigned tasks done more by rote than with enthusiasm and understanding.

How well do Montessori students do compared to students in non-Montessori schools?

There is a small but growing body of well-designed research comparing Montessori students to those in traditional schools. These suggest that in academic subjects, Montessori students perform as well as or better than their non-Montessori peers.

In one study, for example, children who had attended Montessori schools at the preschool and elementary levels earned higher scores in high school on standardized math and science tests. Another study found that the essays of 12-year-old Montessori students were more creative and used more complex sentence structures than those produced by the non-Montessori group.

The research also shows Montessori students to have greater social and behavioral skills. They demonstrate a greater sense of fairness and justice, for example, and are more likely to choose positive responses for dealing with social dilemmas.

By less stringent measures, too, Montessori students seem to do quite well. Most Montessori schools report that their students are typically accepted into the high schools and colleges of their choice. And many successful grads cite their years at Montessori when reflecting on important influences in their life.

Are Montessori children successful later in life?

Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations.