How To Be A Great Montessori Parent

The Montessori Method is a complete philosophy for early childhood education that embraces self-directed learning and exploration. As a Montessori parent, you can promote the principles of freedom and independence to help your child build confidence, master fundamental skills, get a head start on academic studies, and develop a passion for learning and achievement that will last a lifetime.

While Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy is widely taught in Montessori schools, she intended it to to be holistic in nature, and her approach to communication, discipline, teaching and the prepared environment applies equally well at home as it does in school.

In your role as a parent, you can apply the same fundamental principles of Montessori teaching in your own home to ensure success in your child’s development and foster their need for self-directed learning and exploration.

10 Tips For Being A Great Montessori Parent

Here are ten tips to become a great Montessori parent by embracing the philosophy pioneered by Dr. Maria Montessori in your own home. They don’t require a radical change to your lifestyle or expensive investment to put in place, and they are simple enough that any parent can use them to help you raise a healthy & confident child who loves learning and independent problem solving:

1. Respect Your Child’s Individuality

It’s natural for us to respect other adults, but our role as authority figures for children means that we sometimes forget to to give them the respect they deserve. We’re more than simply authority figures, though: we’re also teachers, mentors, family members and friends – and as a Montessori parent, you need to model respectful behavior by showing your children respect. Doing this will help them feel loved & valued, not just as children, but for their thoughts, opinions & goals as well – and it’s something they will model in turn in their peer-level relationships with other children.

Remember to look your children in the eyes when you speak to them, give their ideas the consideration they deserve, and try to place yourselves in their shoes to better understand and identify with their perspective. Remember that they have needs and goals just like adults do, and teach them respect and courtesy by setting good examples. If you treat your child with respect, they will model this behavior and treat others the same way, and it will become a good habit that’s part of their character for life.

2. Promote Your Child’s Independence

Dr. Maria Montessori strongly believed in the concept of self-directed learning, which is one of the most widely-promoted benefits of Montessori education. Montessori schools produce self-starters who go on to great things, and this originates with encouraging the child’s  self-confidence and motivation.

Not surprisingly, the learning materials in Montessori classrooms are designed to encourage self-directed learning and self-correction of errors, which fosters independence. They give children control over their learning and also provide them with a sense of responsibility. In the home environment, you can be a better Montessori parent by making your child’s toys, games, snacks, and art supplies accessible to them without help.

Another way to foster independence is to let your let your child dress themselves or tie their own shoelaces at a younger age. Opportunities like this for children to take ownership over themselves and their daily tasks allow them to begin functioning more independently at a younger age. Just remember that your child lacks the same judgement & responsibilities as an adult, so be prepared to assist them if they struggle.

3. Encourage Freedom Within Limits

The notion of “freedom within limits” is a Montessori concept related to independence and self-directed learning. By allowing them to pursue their interests and passions you foster their independence, and by establishing boundaries for their behavior you help them refrain from destructive behaviors or hurting others.

In the home environment, let your child decide what to focus on. Being a Montessori parent at the park could mean letting them pick the equipment they want to play on. Give them the space and opportunity to move around and simply be children – but establish boundaries related to playground safety, time to come inside, bedtime, and other safety related items.

Giving you child choices, options, and freedom expands their opportunity for self-directed learning by freely exploring their environment. If they are overwhelmed with options, you can focus their minds on making a choice between two different options, which will help them more easily decide. This empowers your child and gives them the ability to take charge of your own childhood as much as safely possible.

4. Create A Prepared Environment

Rather than limit the child’s freedom through confrontation and discipline, Dr. Maria Montessori designed the classroom itself to direct and guide the child’s attention through what she called a “prepared environment”. This environment contains intentionality to its design, such as which materials are available for use, and the position and grouping of items into learning avenues.

As a Montessori parent, you can also create a prepared environment, by organizing and positioning toys, games, puzzles, clothing, and daily task items such as your child’s grooming supplies to make them easier for your child to reach & use. Montessori classrooms use child-sized furniture and child-height tables & shelves for this task.

Additionally, Montessori classrooms are orderly, clean, and peaceful, which assists children in feeling comfortable in their environment. You can do the same in your child’s room or play areas, and just like the classroom, work with them gently on returning toys, items and other materials to their proper place before beginning another task.

5. Don’t Interrupt Learning

Another key aspect of the Montessori environment is that children are able to work without interruptions, which allows them to focus on tasks until completion. At the beginning of each day, children choose their own work, gather their own materials, and learn in a self-directed manner.

In the home, try not to unnecessarily interrupt your child while they are learning. Giving them room to learn, play, and grow allows them to develop problem solving skills. While there are always limits to the amount of time a child can spend on a task before necessary interruptions for dinner, bedtime, or stories, being a good Montessori parent means respecting your child’s focus and allowing them to work without interruption is desirable.

6. Communicate Clearly & Respectfully

Montessori teachers communicate with children using a clearly articulated voice – and so should you. Children model adult behaviors, including speech patters, so make sure to use good pronunciation, and try to use a diverse vocabulary including “big words”, and give them the names of objects around them to help expand their vocabulary.

It’s easy for parents to fall into the pattern of speaking simply around young children, but speaking simply doesn’t mean baby-talk. Have real conversations with your child, and help them model polite, respectful communications. Don’t interrupt them repeatedly while they are speaking or forming thoughts, and don’t rapidly dismiss ideas when they suggest them.

Clear communication is something we strive for in adult conversations, and the same is true when communicating with children. Ultimately, the vast majority of their early language skills and conversational behaviors will be modeled after you, so make sure you’re conversing in a respectful way worth modeling.

7. Demonstrate Patience & Tolerance

The Montessori classroom is an open, loving, and caring environment that values children’s thoughts and ideas. Patience and tolerance are key components of successful Montessori education, and are also an acknowledgement that your child is growing and exploring. They will make mistakes, test boundaries, and sometimes be slow. Be patient with your child and remember that many simple tasks for an adult like yourself are learning challenges for your child.

Being a tolerant Montessori parent includes being patient, and also involves the quiet acknowledgement that your child is exploring the world in their own way. Children get muddy, covered with paint, spill ingredients while cooking, and make other messes. Set expectations with your child and help them develop skills for cleaning up the messes they create, but be tolerant of the learning process. In the Montessori classroom children are expected to clean up & put away materials before beginning a new project, but that doesn’t mean the learning environment is always organized while they are learning.

8. Don’t Be Judgmental

Another part of the Montessori mantra for self-directed learning is to allow children to make their own mistakes and learn from them. Don’t simply point out errors in a judgemental manner – instead, model the correct way to do it. Learning is not a perfect process, and children need to be allowed to make mistakes. If they live in an environment where they fear judgement, they won’t attempt new challenges for fear of failing.

Rather that pointing out flaws, failures, or errors, remember that even if your child didn’t complete a task correctly, they are learning correctly – which is ultimately what counts. Don’t make a big deal out of the bumps along the way. Instead, teach by example and model behaviors & actions that you want them to emulate.

9. Observe Your Child’s Behavior

As a Montessori parent, you should constantly aware of your child’s interests and intellectual & emotional development. In the Montessori classroom, teachers act as “guides” to observe your child and understand what areas they’re having success or struggles in. In the home, watch your child while they’re playing by themselves to find out what truly drives their interest, as well as what may be giving them frustration.

The key to observation is to allow your child the freedom and independence to pursue their own interests, but keeping an eye on them to see their progress, as well as remaining available to answer questions and provide assistance if they need it. Be there – and be aware – but do it without interfering or disrupting their focus.

10. Use Natural & Engaging Toys

We live in the era of disposable, plastic toys that are cheap to buy and easy to replace – and yet, Montessori schools the world over favor durable materials made from wood and natural materials. As a Montessori parent, it’s not practical to try and have a full set of Montessori materials in your home – but you don’t need that to encourage learning.

Cheap, plastic toys break easily and waste money. Instead, buy toys, tools, and materials with timeless appeal that encourage hands-on learning, safe experimentation, and inspire your child’s curiousity. Toys like this are often simple and inexpensive, and don’t require batteries. As you engage your child’s hands, you’ll engage their mind, and create a level of interaction and problem solving that watching TV doesn’t provide.


Montessori parenting is not a replacement for the strong educational foundation provided at a Montessori school, but instead a complimentary supplement to that education that you can provide in the home environment. By giving your child the freedom to grow, learn and make mistakes, you’re helping them to develop the independence and self-confidence that leads to success in school and in life.

The aim of Montessori parenting is not to ignore your child – but also not to overwhelm or interfere with their learning.  Instead, try to  observe your child’s problem solving skills and play activities, and assist them when necessary, but don’t overwhelm them. Give your child the opportunity and space to work independently, and along with the uninterrupted time required to focus on mastering skills, and you will be rewarded with a confident and independent child ready to achieve success throughout their life.