5 Traits Nurtured In the Montessori Environment

When we choose a course of education for our children, we ask ourselves a lot of questions. At some point, we begin to wonder how various models align with our own personal values. What’s really important? What should the goals of education be? What do we want our children to gain from the experience?

It all depends on why and how the methods were developed. What were the initial goals when a particular approach was conceived? What do current practitioners value? These are important questions to consider.

In a list like this, you might be expecting one of the items we feature to be independence. While it’s true that we work hard to build a sense of independence in the children we guide, we talk about it so much we figured it might be nice to focus on some of the other traits that are nurtured in a Montessori environment.

When it comes down to it, Montessori educators care deeply about the academics we teach, because we are curious people who are fascinated with the world around us. But we’re passionate about other things, too. We want the children in our care to go out into the world feeling good about themselves, caring about others, and excited about what they do. That’s what drives our work. That’s what makes us feel so strongly about what we do.

Without further ado, here are five traits Montessori educations nurtures in children:

1. Kindness

Interpersonal skills are some of the most important skills we can teach our students. They can learn all the math and language arts skills out there, but if they can’t interact with other people their lives won’t feel overly fulfilling. More than that, we think humans can accomplish so much more together than individually, so we may as well learn to get along with one another.

The very structure of the Montessori day allows for time dedicated to planned and spontaneous lessons about kindness. We read stories that teach children how to handle hard situations. We use role-playing games to make the work fun. And when a conflict happens in the classroom or the playground? We teach children skills in the moment. How do we handle our own emotions? How do we communicate with someone we disagree with? What does it look like to disagree but still respect one another?

Sometimes the work consists of giving children the script to work through solving issues. Sometimes we enlist the help of the whole group, discussing problems and asking for solutions without targeting individuals.

2. Powerful Work Ethic

The Montessori approach focuses on intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation can be effective in small doses and with short-term goals, like when you don’t want to do the dishes and reward yourself with an iced coffee afterward. Those types of rewards, however, are not particularly effective at cultivating a deep motivation to learn or help others.

Some people find it shocking that Montessori schools don’t give grades, have tests, or hold award ceremonies. The real world doesn’t function like that, so why should we teach children one type of motivation and then expect them to switch to something else as adults? Are employees evaluated at work? Absolutely. The thing is, they’re not receiving grades; they receive narrative feedback that highlights their areas of strengths and what they might improve on. We do the same with our students.