Welcome to our classroom! During your observation, please be as unobtrusive as
possible, The children are used to being observed, but if you are asked why you
are visiting, give a brief reply explaining that you are here to see the
We have found it helpful to offer a guide to observing and interpreting the
dynamics of the Montessori classroom. There is more to the Montessori classroom
than the activities of one particular child. Try to alternate between a
wide-angled view of the entire classroom and focusing on a particular child.
Listen to the activity level as it rises and falls. There will be some
individual learning activities, some small group learning activities, or a large
group lesson being presented.
Here are some aspects of the classroom to make note of as you observe:
- Notice that children learn in different
ways. With some types of materials you will see groups of children
working cooperatively, and with others you will find an individual child
working alone intensely. Still other children are walking through the
classroom seemingly not engaged in any direct activity. Very often,
this last type of child is engaged in actively absorbing information through
observation of the children and the materials in the classroom. It
will help if you alternate your focus on these different learning patterns.
- Note the ease and joy with which the
children work. You will see the intense self-gratification that the
learning process affords the child. If your child has experienced a
Primary Montessori education, you will notice different behavior patterns in
the Elementary student. While Primary students are focused on process,
Elementary students become aware of finished accomplishment and product as
- Watch the way teachers interact with
children and compare it with the traditional classroom mode by which you
were probably educated. Notice the way in which a teacher corrects a
child, and look at the instances in which she does not. Listen to the
teacher's tone of voice with the child.
- The teacher is a facilitator of the
child's autonomous learning process. She guides rather than
insists. She prepares the environment, gives the child the tools to
utilize the materials and then does whatever else is necessary to help the
child interact with the environment without assistance. Sometimes this
involves direct encouragement, at other times indirect appreciation, and
even a judicious absence. There is a basic respect for each individual
child's particular style of learning in the Montessori classroom.
- Watch the ways in which the children
offer assistance to one another with the materials and with everyday tasks
as well as the ways that they are directly sociable with on another.
- The Montessori classroom contains a wide
range of both ages of children and of materials that are appropriate to the
different developmental levels. Note how the children go to the
materials that are appropriate to their developmental level. Note also
how the younger children absorb the older children's work simply by being
near them, and how, conversely, the older children will assist the younger
ones with work that they have already mastered.