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Myths About Montessori

Categories: General Knowledge Fund

Montessori Myths


There are several myths (and misconceptions) about Montessori.  Often, they come up during tours for prospective parents, conversations with friends with students in other school settings, or with our own parents as we discuss our plans for our children.

The North American Montessori Teachers’ Association, or NAMTA, recently addressed several of the most-often heard “Montessori Myths.”  Here are a few of the most common misconceptions NAMTA addressed:

  • “Montessori is just for preschool children.
  • Montessori is just for special learners – the gifted or the learning disabled.
  • Montessori schools are religious.
  • Children in Montessori classrooms can ‘do whatever they want.’
  • Montessori classrooms are too structured.
  • Montessori stifles creativity.”



Montessori Myths Busted


  • Montessori is just for preschool children.

While preschools (or primary classrooms) are the majority of Montessori schools in the United States, Montessori programs exist for children from birth through adolescence.  Montessori Elementary programs build upon the strong foundation of a Montessori primary education.  Elementary programs expand towards more conceptual levels of education in the world around us and the unlimited possibilities for education our world has to offer.  A quick glance through this list of AMI-Certified schools shows the large number of authentic elementary programs nationwide.

  • Montessori is just for special learners – the gifted or the learning disabled.

“Special learners” thrive in a Montessori education for the same reason all children thrive in a Montessori environment – because it is designed to follow each child’s development and strengths individually, rather than forcing children to follow a set timeline.  Children are able to flourish and advance in areas of strength and spend extra time in areas that need more practice – no matter what their classmates are doing.

  • Montessori schools are religious.

While Dr. Montessori was a deeply religious woman, her educational methods focused on the social and neurological development of children, rather than focusing on religious teachings.  Wheaton Montessori School is NOT a religiously-affiliated school.

  • Children in Montessori classrooms can “do whatever they want.”

Dr. Montessori actually believed that freedom without boundaries was abandonment.  Thus, children can choose whatever work they’d like to tackle, but within a pretty strict set of lessons and limitations.  This limitations may include the child’s own development, interest, and ability, as well as the observations of the classroom teacher.  Montessori children are free to choose any work that interests them – within limits.  Some of those limits include using the materials purposefully, in accordance with the lessons the teacher has presented, and in a responsible manner.  Using materials that offer an appropriate level of challenge.

  • Montessori classrooms are too structured.

Well, which is it?  Can children in a Montessori classroom “do whatever they want” or is it “too structured?” Yes. in an authentic Montessori classroom, a child “can do whatever” he or she wants within a strict framework of lessons.  Your child’s teacher is trained in a strenuous Montessori program (AMI-certification education).  This training emphasizes the need to follow the child’s individual development, presenting lessons at just the right moment, encouraging repetition until mastery, and repeating.  Windows of opportunity must be seized when they open.  For this reason, a Montessori student will have a limited choices for “work,” within an enormous range of subjects.  The child’s behavior and attitude and their movements also help a trained teacher assess if there is benefit gained from repetition or continued practice.

While we’re discussing being strict in a methodology… 

AMI-accreditations are standardized and rigorous to ensure that an “AMI Montessori school” is a true Montessori school, not just in name.  Being true to our Montessori training frees us up to engage in relationship-building with your children.  We know that Montessori reading lessons WORKS.  We know that the concrete mathematical lessons WORK for all children.

At Wheaton Montessori School, our teachers believe that practicing a complete authentic Montessori education gives your child the best education.  For this reason, we do strictly adhere to Montessori’s philosophy without watering it down – or supplementing it.

  • Montessori stifles creativity.

Creativity and imagination is working HARDER within a Montessori classroom, as students are given a treasure trove of real-life knowledge and facts to connect.  They build, they engineer, and they create.  It may not be a fantastical scene of mythical creatures, but it’s imagination at work.

Imagine the Wright Brothers.  They studies birds in order to create their “flying machines.”  The inventor of Velcro had studied feathers and the way feathers interlock.  The more information we can give a child during a window of opportunity, the more likely they are to be able to use this information to imagine what is attainable, buildable, and in creating the next solution for our world.

From Ms. Lingo: “Yesterday, several 4-year-olds were making maps for the first time.  They discussed students one year older than them making maps as well.  They were planning to do the same activity again the next day.  I could see the student’s thoughts as she learned the word, “cartographer.”  She was so thrilled to have map-making as an art open to her.  She was creating a work of art based upon geographic facts.”