Lower School: Montessori Basics - "The Rules"

In order for a community to live in harmony there have to be rules and that is no different when in a Montessori classroom full of Toddlers or Primaries – or in your home, for that matter. Children ages 0-6 years meet with the best of success for compliance and cooperation when these “regulations” are clearly articulated, simply phrased, consistent, and few in number. When you consider the size of the group in a prepared Montessori environment at any given time, and add in the adults and the gazillion pieces of material and furniture, you might think there would be lots and lots of edicts and reminders and more reminders about what is expected and accepted. And you might also be wondering how such rules balance with the concepts of freedom and independence?

Luckily for everyone, there are only three guiding principles by which all members of a community must abide. All actions by all individuals in a classroom can fall into one of these categories and inherently mandate teamwork and compliance.

1. Respect oneself.

While you are free to choose your own work, where you will work, with whom you might work, you are not free to run or push or climb or carry breakables haphazardly because you might hurt yourself.

2. Respect others.

You must be kind, considerate, speak quietly, and not bother another’s work or workspace. This applies to the physical AND emotional well-being of your comrades.

3. Respect the environment.

You are responsible for caring for the materials in a gentle manner, using them only for their intended purposes, and returning everything in good condition to their proper places. It is, after all, your community.

These precepts can be equally effective at home during non-school situations and also during distance learning time. Being prepared to work and monitoring their movements so as to not harm their bodies will allow for everyone’s comfort and expediency. When on Zoom, following good practices of digital citizenship by not interrupting or laughing at others will create a sense of fellowship. Keeping their materials (and toys and books) in good repair and putting them away when not in use is their responsibility.

You can prepare your home as we prepare the classrooms to accommodate opportunities for respect.

You can remind them that “in our family” we are kind, take care of our things, and honor our bodies.

Montessori said that “to assist a child we must provide him with an environment which will enable him to develop freely.” These three simple, clear and concise rules  - modeled by the adults - can be the foundation for how they manage themselves for the rest of their lives. What a gift!


Denise Merkel

Head of Lower School, Director of Education, & APF Coordinator

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