Why I Used Montessori Principles in My Parenting Philosophy

Montessori-Inspired Pond Unit
Activity of the Week – Montessori-Inspired Trays for Care of Self

I was lucky. I was a trained and experienced Montessori teacher before I had my first child. The Montessori principles I had used in my teaching naturally became a part of my parenting philosophy.

But following those principles also helped my children develop qualities I valued deeply.

Here are some of those qualities and how following Montessori principles helped my now-adult children develop them.


Christina (9 months), Terry, and Will (5). Montessori education encourages kindness and older children helping younger children. Here Will decided to introduce his baby sister to one of the Montessori geometric trays.

Christina (9 months), Terry, and Will (5). Montessori education encourages kindness and older children helping younger children. Here Will decided to introduce his baby sister to one of the Montessori geometric trays.

More than being successful, I wanted my children to be nice, kind people, both as children and adults. I had always appreciated the positive behavioral changes Montessori education brought about in children.

One of the main Montessori studies I used in my master’s dissertation was the 2006 study by Angeline Lillard and Nicole Else-Quest “Evaluating Montessori Education.” Social/behavioral measures of 5-year-old children showed that:

Montessori children were significantly more likely (43% versus 18% of responses) to use a higher level of reasoning by referring to justice or fairness. . . . Observations at the playground during recess indicated Montessori children were significantly more likely to be involved in positive shared peer play and significantly less likely to be involved in rough play that was ambiguous in intent (such as wrestling without smiling).

Social/behavioral measures of 12-year-old children showed that:

Montessori 12-year-olds were significantly more likely to choose the positive assertive response (for example, verbally expressing one’s hurt feelings to the host) [when read stories about social problems and asked to choose a response]. On a questionnaire regarding their feelings about school, Montessori children indicated having a greater sense of community, responding more positively to items such as, “Students in my class really care about each other” and “Students in this class treat each other with respect.”

Love of Learning.

This was another quality that was essential to me. I’ve always valued learning, and I know that having a love of learning will help ensure success and enjoyment throughout life. If you’d like to see an awesome video about Montessori and love of learning, watch this video: Trevor Eissler “Montessori Madness!”

Competence and the Ability to be Successful.

A Montessori foundation helped Christina have the concentration and self-confidence to complete and present a homeschool science fair project at age 4.

A Montessori foundation helped Christina have the concentration and self-confidence to complete and present a homeschool science fair project at age 4.

I wanted my children to have the skills necessary for success and the ability to tackle new tasks necessary for any career. Montessori education is known for helping individuals achieve their potential. Many famous people who were Montessori children (“Famous People Influenced by Montessori”) are known for their initiative, creativity, and self-confidence.

A Sense of Order.

Montessori practical life activities especially help children develop a sense of order. In addition, Montessori environments are attractive and orderly and Montessori presentations follow an orderly series of steps, all of which helps the children internalize an external order.

Ability to Concentrate.

Practical life activities help develop the ability to concentrate. Children also learn to concentrate by following their interests and sensitive periods, which leads to the repetition of activities and prolonged working at tasks – and the progressively longer ability to concentrate.


Will's Montessori foundation helped him at age 9 persist with a homeschool science fair project for over 8 hours, typing all the information independently.

Will’s Montessori foundation helped him at age 9 persist with a homeschool science fair project for over 8 hours, typing all the information independently.

Similar to the ability to concentrate, Montessori education is wonderful at developing persistence. I wrote more about this in Help Your Child Develop Persistence by Using Montessori Principles. [Note: To read more about our science fair experience, read Homeschool Science Fair Fun.]


This is an essential Montessori concept. Again, practical life activities help children develop independence. The Montessori approach helps children to help themselves.

No Education Burn-Out.

I didn’t want my children to experience what I did in my schooling. I was a high-achieving perfectionist who was burned out from tests and grades before I ever started college. Even though I received all As during my bachelor’s degree, it took me 12 years and 4 universities to complete my bachelor’s degree after burning out over and over again (and taking time off from college after attending one or two semesters at a time).

I appreciated that Montessori education doesn’t use tests and grades but relies on the internal motivation of the child.

Academic Success.

Even though I didn’t want my children to burn out, I still wanted them to be academically successful. As a Montessori teacher (and in observing children in Montessori elementary schools), I’d seen children working happily at very high levels of achievement.

The Results

Will's and Christina's University Graduation Photos

Will’s and Christina’s University Graduation Photos

I’m happy to say that I see the qualities I hoped for in my children. As adults, Will (now 26) and Christina (now 21) are known as kind, successful individuals. They both have a better sense of order than I do, can concentrate well, and lived and functioned well independently before becoming happily married adults.

Will and Christina both loved their university experiences and were able to enjoy attending university full time straight through to graduation. They also both received straight As throughout their bachelor’s degrees. And they still love learning! Will and Christina are always busily involved in new learning and projects, never worrying about being bored.

So, without a doubt, I’m very happy I used Montessori principles in my parenting philosophy! 🙂


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Natural Parenting with the theme Parenting Philosophy (hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama). This month our participants have shared their parenting practices and how they fit in with their parenting purpose. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon July 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Between Love and Fear: On Raising our Children Sensibly — Mamma Earthly at Give an Earthly discusses the fear factor in parenting and how she overcame it, despite societal pressures.
  • really, when do i get my cape? — Sarah at small bird on fire is a working city mama trying to learn how to set aside her expectations of perfection and embrace the reality of modern parenting.
  • Baby, Infant, and Toddler Wearing — Child wearing is part of Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured‘s parenting philosophy. In this post, Sarah describes benefits of child-wearing and gives tips for wearing babies, infants, and toddlers (even while pregnant).
  • First Year Reflections — As her daughter’s first birthday approaches, Holly at First Year Reflections reflects on how she and her husband settled into attachment parenting after initially doing what they thought everyone else did.
  • Making an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a guest post from Sam about the unexpected lessons giving a four-year-old an allowance teaches the child — and the parent.
  • How to be a Lazy Parent and Still Raise Great Kids — Lisa at Granola Catholic talks about how being a Lazy Parent has helped her to raise Great Kids.
  • Philosophy in Practice — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how her heart shaped the parenting philosophy in her home.
  • What is Attachment Parenting Anyway? — Gaby at Tmuffin describes the challenges of putting a label on her parenting philosophy.
  • Of Parenting Styles — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom talks about how she and her husband tailored various parenting styles to fit their own preferred parenting philosophy.
  • Moment by Moment Parenting — Amy at Peace 4 Parents encourages those who care for children (including herself) to explore and appreciate parenting moment-by-moment with clarity, intention, trust, and action.
  • Maintaining Spirituality in the Midst of Everyday Parenting, Marriage, and Life — Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured shares her perspective on finding opportunities for spiritual growth in every day life.
  • Parenting Philosophy — Lily, aka Witch Mom’s parenting philosophy is to raise child(ren) to be compassionate, loving, inquisitive, and questioning adults who can be trusted to make decisions for themselves in a way that avoids harming others.
  • Long Term — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis thinks about who she would like to see her daughter become — and what she can do now to lay a strong foundation for those hopes.
  • Connection, Communication, Compassion — She’s come a long way, baby! After dropping her career in favour of motherhood, Patti at Jazzy Mama discovered that building solid relationships was going to be her only parenting priority.
  • My Parenting Inspirations – Part 4 — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at her biggest parenting inspiration and how that translates into her long-term parenting philosophy.
  • A Parenting Philosophy in One Word: Respect — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction summarizes her parenting and relationship philosophy in one word: respect.
  • Knowledge and Instinct — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that knowledge and instinct are super important … as are love, encouragement and respect. It’s the ideal combo needed to raise happy and healthy children and in turn create meaningful relationships with them.
  • THRIVE!The Sparkle Mama wants to set a tone of confidence, abundance, and happiness in her home that will be the foundation for the rest of her daughter’s life.
  • On Children — “Your children are not your children,” say Kahlil Gibran and Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • This One Life Together — Ariadne aka Mudpiemama shares her philosophy of parenting: living fully in the here and now and building the foundation for a happy and healthy life.
  • Enjoying life and planning for a bright future — Olivia at Write About Birth shares her most important parenting dilemmas and pours out her heart about past trauma and how healing made her a better parent.
  • My Parenting Philosophy: Unconditional and Natural Love — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about her parenting philosophy from a year of following her instincts as a mama.
  • An open letter to my children — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine writes an open letter to her children.
  • My Starter Kit for Unconditional Parenting — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses her wish to raise a good person and summarizes some of the nontraditional practices she’s using with her toddler son in order to fulfill that wish.
  • Responsiveness — Sheila at A Gift Universe has many philosophies and goals, but what it all boils down to is responsiveness: listening to what her son wants and providing what he needs.
  • Tools for Creating Your Parenting Philosophy — Have you ever really thought about your parenting purpose? Knowing your long-term goals can help you parent with more intent in your daily interactions. Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers exercises and ideas to help you create your own parenting philosophy.
  • Be a Daisy — Becky at Old New Legacy philosophizes about individuality and how she thinks it’s important for her daughter’s growth.
  • What’s a Mama to Do? — Amyables at Toddler in Tow hopes that her dedication to compassionate parenting will keep her children from becoming too self-critical as adults.
  • grown-up anxieties. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life explains her lone worry concerning her babies growing up.
  • Why I Used Montessori Principles in My Parenting Philosophy — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why she chose Montessori principles to help her now-adult children develop qualities she wanted to see in them as children and adults.
  • Parenting Philosophies & Planning for the FutureMomma Jorje considers that the future is maybe just a fringe benefit of doing what feels right now.
  • Not Just Getting Through — Rachael at The Variegated Life asks what truths she hopes to express even in the most commonplace interactions with her son.
  • Parenting Philosophy? Eh… — Ana at Pandamoly shares the philosophy (or lack thereof) being employed to (hopefully) raise a respectful, loving, and responsible child.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Being Present — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses the changes her family has made to accommodate their parenting philosophy and to reflect their ideals as working parents.
  • Who They Will Be — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro shares a short list of some qualities she hopes she is instilling in her children at this very moment.
  • Short Term vs. Long Term — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts how long term parenting goals often get lost in the details of everyday life with two kids.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Practicing and Nurturing Peace — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle sets personal goals for developing greater peace.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 1: The Yamas — In part 1 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie guest posts at Natural Parents Network about how the Yoga Sutras provide a framework for her parenting philosophy.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 2: The Niyamas — In part 2 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie explores how the Niyamas (one of the eight limbs in traditional Yoga) help her maintain her parenting and life focus.
  • Our Sample Parenting Plan — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shares hopes of who her children will become and parenting strategies she employs to get them there.
  • Philosophical Parenting: Letting Go — Jona at Life, Intertwined ponders the notion that there’s no right answer when it comes to parenting.
  • Unphilosophizing? — jessica at instead of institutions wonders about the usefulness of navel gazing.
  • Parenting Sensitively — Amy at Anktangle uses her sensitivity to mother her child in ways that both nurture and affirm.
  • how to nurture your relationships — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog believes that sometimes all kids need is a jolly good listening to …
  • Philosophy Of An Unnatural Parent — Dr. Sarah at Good Enough Mum sees parenting as a process of guiding her children to develop the skills they’ll need.
  • Life with a Challenging Kid: Hidden Blessings — Wendy at High Needs Attachment shares the challenges and joys of raising a high needs child.
  • Flying by the Seat of My Pants — Heather at Very Nearly Hippy has realized that she has no idea what she’s doing.




Montessori-Inspired Pond Unit
Activity of the Week – Montessori-Inspired Trays for Care of Self
For Small Hands - A Resource for Families
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