The Montessori pedagogy

Montessori pedagogy is a so-called open education method, compared to so-called closed or traditional methods, such as mutual teaching. His pedagogy is based on the sensory and kinesthetic education of the child. In Montessori pedagogy, education is considered as an “aid to life”. Montessori Colors is a bilingual school located in Toulouse which offers your children this pedagogy.

Who are we 

The story of Montessori

Montessori today


Who are we


1.1 Provision of concrete material to children


The sensory material is given to the child as an aid to the development of intelligence and hand. Already in the womb, the baby learns about the environment through data transmitted by the sense organs.
The child freely uses cubes, cylinders of various diameters, interlocking objects, letters cut out of various materials...
The sensory material developed by Maria Montessori allows the child to distinguish, to clarify, to generalize, from the concrete to the concept and from the concept to the abstract. It is a scientific material that meets the need for the natural development of the child by respecting his sensitive periods. For :

-  order: the child classifies, orders, sorts, develops reasoning;
  - language: the child names the concepts;
  - movement: the child refines the use of his hands;
  - sensory refinement: the child achieves great refinement with certain materials.


This material is built on almost universal scientific data: Pythagorean tables, decimal system, etc. It is independent of the child's culture, unlike the material of practical life which is largely impregnated with the child's cultural environment.

The child acquires a more exact approach to reality. It opens up to a more precise perception of the world. The sensory material becomes an instrument for investigating reality, a decoder of reality. The child can consciously situate himself more precisely and be independent of his environment. This material, which gives him the "keys" necessary to discover reality, becomes an "alphabet" where the child learns to read his environment.

For Maria Montessori, it is essential to offer the child the opportunity to fully develop his different sensibilities:
  - in a setting adapted to their psychological needs;
  - respecting its own rhythm and its individual particularities;
  - while awakening him to social life


 Importance of sensitive periods

According to Maria Montessori, each child is unique. He has his own personality, his rhythm of life, his qualities and his possible difficulties. Children all go through “sensitive periods”  » :
These are special sensitivities in the process of evolution, moments in the life of the child when the latter is entirely “absorbed” by a particular sensitivity to a precise element of the environment.
  These are passing, transitory periods; they are limited to the acquisition of a specific character; once the character is developed, the "sensitivity" ceases. It is therefore essential that the atmosphere (the environment) offers the child at the right time the means to develop by using these sensitive periods.

It is :

  • the sensitive period of language, more or less between 2 months and 6 years;

  • the sensitive period of coordination of movements, approximately from 18 months to 4 years;

  • the sensitive period of the order, approximately from birth to 6 years;

  • the sensitive period of the refinement of the senses, approximately from 18 months to 5 years;

  •   the sensitive period of social behavior, approximately from 2.5 to 6 years;

  • the sensitive period of small objects, during the 2nd year over a very short time.

According to Maria Montessori, "if the child has not been able to obey the directives of his sensitive period, the opportunity for a natural conquest is lost, lost forever". During these sensitive periods, the child assimilates this or that acquisition. If the child is helped at this precise moment, the learning takes place in depth. But, if the child does not find the elements (in the atmosphere and the material) that meet his current needs, the sensitivity will gradually wither away. Maria Montessori is convinced that the forces of development are included in the being alive and that the work of education consists in preserving their spontaneity, and removing anything that could weaken them and prevent them from flourishing. The child must build his own personality and develop his motor and intellectual faculties. This is why the educator must have complete confidence in the strengths of the child, respect his freedom of action and prepare the necessary and favorable atmosphere for his development. The educator must be able to observe the differences in rhythm of the child, he must know each child well by showing attention and respect.

1.3 Promote the child's autonomy

One of the essential points of Montessori pedagogy is to encourage autonomy and initiative in the child, and this, from an early age, on the one hand to facilitate and motivate his learning and on the other hand to promote their development as a person. Maria Montessori starts from the observation that the child's motivation to learn is natural. For example, he tries to crawl, then to stand up, then to walk. But he also voluntarily comes to the adult when he wants help. Maria Montessori recommends following this natural approach for teaching. The adult makes a demonstration then lets the child reproduce the operation alone. This is generally summarized by the well-known phrase of Maria Montessori: "Help me to do alone".

The main means used in Montessori pedagogy to promote autonomy are:

  • the educator's attitude of withdrawal;

  • the use of sensory and progressive material that the child can handle alone and with pleasure;

  • the possibility of self-correction offered by almost all of this material.

1.4 The attitude of the educator

To leave the child enough initiative and allow him to learn at his own pace, Montessori pedagogy recommends an attitude of withdrawal on the part of the educator, quite different from the classic posture: once the demonstration has been made, he remains present as a simple observer, only available if the child clearly shows that he needs additional help or information. After a while, the child even works alone without the presence of the adult, after having gone to look for the material of his choice himself on shelves adapted to his size. At no time does the educator attempt to speed up the process. He does not whisper the answers, does not take the objects or the pencil from the child's hands to show him again or give him the solution. The goal is to prevent these interventions, perceived as a failure on the part of the child, from making him lose confidence in his ability to succeed on his own.


1.5 Sensory material

The Montessori material is designed to give the child the possibility of discovering abstract notions in a sensual and concrete way. Its use involves manipulation and independent work. Aesthetics also play a role. The colors, the attractive appearance and the variety of objects, cards, shapes, are intended to capture the attention and often constitute the child's "point of interest", which motivates him in the activity. According to Maria Montessori, it is indeed illusory to believe that the point of interest of the child can be the same as that of the adult (to learn the addition, to discover what an adverb is used for, etc.).

This material is numerous. Here is a non-exhaustive list.

For the first notions: The color boxes, the cylindrical interlockings, the pink tower, the brown staircase, the geometry drawers, the binomial and trinomial cubes, the constructor triangles, the superimposed figures.

For numeration and calculation: The Pythagorean table, the number bars, the spindles, the bank of numbers, the rough figures, the Seguin tables, the stamps, the pearls of the positive serpent, the addition tables, the negative snake beads, subtraction tables, multiplication tables, division tables, geometric cards.

For oral language, writing, reading and initiation to grammar: Rough letters, movable alphabets, drawing shapes, reading boxes, classified nomenclature cards, slates, grammatical symbols.


1.6 Self-correction or “error control”

Most Montessori materials offer the child the opportunity to control the accuracy of what he has just done. The control of the error passes for example by the comparison of a shape obtained by the child with a reference shape (with the material of Sensory Life or in geometry) or by the use of control tables (for the four operations) or by checking "completed" files after having worked on "dumb" files (for language). The aim is to allow the child to discover and overcome his mistakes by avoiding that the evaluation comes from the educator.

1.7 The progression of learning

According to Maria Montessori, if taking advantage of sensitive periods is fundamental, it is not enough. We must also not try to cut corners. The time spent by very young children on activities such as folding, pouring, juxtaposing, carrying, etc. which seem to go without saying and are therefore sometimes neglected, is used by the child to learn to coordinate his movements, associate his gaze and his gesture, concentrate, organize himself in his work. Then, school learning – arithmetic, language, etc. – will be done in a more natural and easy way.


The story of Montessori

Created in a poor district of Rome, this pedagogy has won the enthusiasm of thousands of teachers around the world.

This method of education, in practice since the beginning of the 1900s, has allowed the emergence of many nursery and then primary schools, and even for young people up to 18 years of age.

When Maria Montessori left India in 1952, this method was on the rise, since Maria had trained thousands of teachers in her method.

On the other hand, the situation is much less rosy in the West. Following World War II, the number of schools opened was minimal. By the end of the 1950s, only a few schools remained open in the United States, kept in operation by disciples of John Dewey. ).The following years will see an expansion of his pedagogy on all continents.


In 2005, there are approximately 4,500 schools around the world teaching according to this pedagogical approach.




Today, Montessori pedagogy is recognized for its capacity for cultural adaptation. And according to Marlene Barron, principal of West Side Montessori School in New York4 and member of the faculty of graduate studies at New York University, the Montessori approach is like “a state of mind, a constellation of concepts, of values; precepts and practices that make it a particular vision of reality”.

Let us quote some famous personalities resulting from Montessori education: the founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the founder of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Wikipedia Jimbo Wales, the musician Jeff Buckley. Anne Frank also received a Montessori education, starting in 1934. There is also the inventor of The Sims, developer of Spore and SimCity: Will Wright. “Montessori taught me the joy of discovery. This showed me that one could be interested in complex theories, like those of Pythagoras for example, by playing with cubes. It is about learning for oneself rather than receiving instruction from the teacher. SimCity is straight out of Montessori - if you give people this model of building cities they will learn the principles of urban planning.”

Other personalities from Montessori education: Jacqueline Kennedy, Princes William and Harry of England, Mickael Douglas, George Clooney, Joshua Bell (American violinist, owner of the famous Stradivarius), Katharine Graham (owner and publisher of the Washington Post ), Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombian writer (Nobel Prize for Literature), Dakota Fanning, Sean P. Didiy Combs (Puff Dadday, rapper), Melissa Gilbert, Stephen J. Cannell, Heen Hunt…

Other Famous People Influenced the Evolution of the Montessori Method

  • The Dalai Lama in the 1960s trained Tibetan teachers

  • Françoise Dolto member of the honorary committee of the ISSM

  • Albert Jacquard member of the ISSM honorary committee

  • Alexander Graam Bell, inventor of the first telephone, and his wife Mabel,

  • financially supported Maria Montssori for the opening of the first Montessori school in the United States in 1913

  • Mister Rogers, children's television personality, has been a strong supporter of Montessori education

  • Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, helped found a Montessori school

  • President Wilson's daughter was a Montessori educator.

  • There was a Montessori class within the White House itself

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Scientific studies of pedagogy


MontessoriThe scientific community makes a difference between “pedagogy” and “sensory approach” Montessori.Several studies have focused on the educational effectiveness of Montessori schools compared to traditional teaching. Mainly conducted in the United States, this work tends to show that students who have gone through this education obtain better results when evaluating their academic and social abilities, even if we control for self-selection bias. .    

(Source Wikipedia) blagnac bilingual school, international school, kindergarten montessori toulouse.