Montessori Myths VS Facts
The Montessori Method is an incredible way to educate your children, and it’s certainly gaining in popularity. Whether you’ve heard about it from a parenting group, a Facebook group, a friend or at a PTO meeting, you're probably interested in Montessori because all of the research shows that Montessori sets children up for lifelong success.
Chances are good, however, that you have a few uncertainties bouncing around in your head about Montessori. You might even believe some of the most pervasive myths about Maria Montessori’s Method of education and the people that adhere to it. Well, I’m here to put those misconceptions and myths to bed, once and for all.
Montessori Myths VS Facts
I’ve put together a list of the 10 most common myths and questions I get about Montessori teaching. I hope that you will come away with a better understanding of the method, how accessible it truly is, and how it can benefit your family.
“Do Montessori parents tell their children no?”
Most adults have been conditioned to a cause/effect outlook when it comes to behavior. As a child, they were taught that something they did was wrong in the form of a reprimand. While this may teach a child the relationship between an unwanted behavior and an unpleasant response, it doesn’t show them why certain behaviors are more or less desirable.
Montessori aims to model ideal behavior to children and to make them responsible and conscientious custodians of their environment. Parents use kind, respectful words, and positive discipline to show children how to take care of themselves, their possessions, and the world around them. If a child does something undesirable, they are gently reminded of the expectations of behavior for them and the reasons why.
When children consistently observe kind, helpful and patient behavior from their parents, they mimic that themselves. From birth until about age 7, children soak in information around them at an incredible rate, creating unconscious routines and references to interact with the world. Montessori education helps keep them confident, respectful, patient, and kind.
So it’s not that Montessori children aren’t told “no”, or are undisciplined. Instead of “don’t do that because I said so” followed by punishment, Montessori students are given intentional models of ideal behavior, and then gently reminded of them when they falter.
“Montessori parents don’t celebrate their children’s accomplishments!”
This myth originates in the Montessori ideal of helping your child develop intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation. The concern here is that a child who strives to do something well just because they want to hear “good job!” will struggle with motivation later in life when that “good job!” is no longer commonplace.
Instead of saying “good job!” when your child accomplishes something, Montessori encourages us to instead praise their effort. Saying something like “I see you were working hard to figure out that puzzle - you must feel good about solving it” helps them shift the focus from an external source of validation to their own work and their own feelings about their accomplishments.
You can and should celebrate your child’s accomplishments, but do it in a way that ensures they celebrate themselves. Kids work very hard to learn and create, and they deserve to feel good for their efforts.
“Montessori children aren’t allowed to play pretend.”
Playing pretend doesn’t necessarily always mean fighting dragons. Montessori kids are encouraged to root their pretend play in reality - playing restaurant, farm or school, for instance. The idea is to develop a powerful imagination before introducing concepts that are fantastic.
For this reason, books grounded in reality should be your main choice when providing reading material to your children. Fantasy is fine as they get older, but focus on real, concrete concepts first.
“Montessori homeschoolers lack socialization.”
Anyone who has considered homeschooling has probably thought “what about socialization?” It’s a fair fear, but an unwarranted one.
Children under the age of six often choose to play alone. They are spending time developing a sense of self and it’s normal for them to play alone or side-by-side should another child be present. Small children are experiencing an entire world of newness, and though other people are a part of it, figuring out their own place in the world means more at this age.
When it comes to Montessori, early socialization isn’t a focus, but grace and courtesy certainly are. It’s important to teach and model positive social behavior like manners, patience/waiting your turn, helping other people, and conversation. These things can be taught naturally by interacting meaningfully with your family.
After the age of 6, children will start to become more interested in and capable of socializing. Even in traditional school, this is around the time when classes - and socializing - truly start. Homeschooled Montessori children have plenty of opportunities for social interaction. They can play with friends, go to parks and playgrounds, join coops, or play sports (just like other traditionally schooled kids).
“Montessori kids will struggle if enrolled in traditional schooling.”
Kids taught using the Montessori method learn patience, kindness, and concentration. The self-management and self-reliance that are cornerstones of the Montessori Method serve to improve a child’s transition to any other mode of teaching.
So, why does this myth exist?
The idea that Montessori children struggle to integrate into traditional schooling is as ridiculous as the idea that homeschooled kids don't get along well with others.
The truth is that children reared with the Montessori Method are given more structure and expectation that their traditionally educated students, just like homeschooled kids get even more opportunities for socializing with people of all ages and walks of life.
Perhaps this myth of difficult transitions arise from the initial feelings of shock and disbelief that these children experience when their independence is limited and they are disrespected in what to them is a strange, new environment.
“Montessori is only for those with special needs.”
Though the Montessori Method is a wonderful tool for special needs children, they are not the only kids who can benefit from this type of instruction. Montessori teaching is designed to work for each individual child’s strengths and needs, driven by their interests and at their own speed.
Children flourish when they’re given specialized attention and allowed to grow at their own pace. This works particularly well for neurodivergent students or those with special needs, but it doesn’t mean that only those children respond well to the Montessori Method. In fact, the research reveals just the opposite: ALL kids benefit from a Montessori approach.
“Montessori is only for rich people!”
Modern Montessori schools tend to be pricey, but Maria Montessori developed her teaching methods in some of the poorest districts in Italy. If anything, the roots of this style of teaching are the exact opposite of elitist. Still, the modern day stigma of unaffordability does have its roots in the expensive cost of private Montessori schools.
With that said, more public schools are adopting Montessori training, and homeschooling with the Montessori Method doesn’t need to be inaccessibly expensive. In fact, the materials and lesson plans can be cheaper in some aspects than traditional or Classic education methods.
Multisori in particular is committed to making Montessori education accessible to more children every year and to that end, we pledge to extend our programs to families who would otherwise not be able to afford them.
With each purchase of a Multisori Montessori Curriculum, we donate one to a Montessori family in need. This is our commitment to making the world a better place with quality education and a wonderful head-start for all kids.
“But getting started at home with Montessori is expensive!”
There are plenty of Montessori-inspired toys and pieces of furniture out there that can be quite pricey. The good news is that Montessori education is more about how the child experiences their world than it is about specialized equipment and toys.
When searching for Montessori-aligned items, check your local area through Craigslist or Facebook marketplace - chances are good there might be homeschooling parents whose children have aged out of their items. You can pick them up cheaply, but also remember they aren’t necessary for your child to experience the benefits of Montessori homeschooling.
And if you prefer to buy new, we’ve compiled a list of affordable Montessori furniture that’s sure to suit your budget.
“Montessori kids are undisciplined.”
The idea that Montessori kids are undisciplined comes from the fact that punishment isn’t part of this experience. There are no time outs or groundings with the Montessori Method. Instead, the parents model ideal behavior and gently remind their children when they are stepping off course.
Additionally, many parents see the child-led learning process and think that Montessori kids are chaotic and undisciplined, not understanding that there is an underlying structure. The parents/teachers guide students gently in the direction the lesson should take, and the rest is up to the students learning their routines. Since routine and respect is such a huge part of each student’s experience, they know to take care of their classroom, putting it back the way it was before their lessons begin.
So from the outside, you might think Montessori kids are undisciplined but they are actually some of the most self-guided and disciplined kids you’ll find
“If Montessori is so great, why aren’t more Montessori-educated people famous?”
One general myth of the Montessori Method is that if it truly was successful, you’d see more successful people singing its praises. The fact is, there are many extremely successful Montessori kids out there, you just might not be aware of them.
For instance, some incredibly successful Montessori-trained people are:
- Julia Child, the first TV chef and undoubtedly one of the most profound names in culinaria in the modern age
- Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon
- Larry Page and Sergey Brinn, the founders of Google
- Actress Helen Hunt
- Actor George Clooney
- Magician David Blaine
- Chelsea Clinton
- Rapper and producer Sean “P.Diddy” Combs
These are but a few of the highly successful people who credit their Montessori education with their drive to succeed and self-determination.
Don’t let Montessori myths keep you from Montessori homeschooling
As with anything new we experience, the bad things we hear tend to float to the surface. There are many myths about Montessori and it doesn’t take long working in this Method to see that they’re largely false or misconstrued. Children absolutely blossom with this child-led and highly focused curriculum, and grow up respectful stewards of their surroundings.
Montessori homeschooling is easier and more rewarding than you might think, and Multisori aims to make it more accessible for those students who are in need with our scholarship program. If you’ve ever considered Montessori for your homeschooled students, there’s never been a better time to see for yourself how greatly you and your family can benefit from it.