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A Montessori Guide - Beyond the Obvious

“It is not enough for the teacher to love the child. She must first love and understand the universe. She must prepare herself, and truly work at it.” Maria Montessori

To visitors, a genuine Montessori school, just like ours, often appears to have a different atmosphere from the traditional ones. The classrooms are designed for children to be independent, move freely, purposefully and respectfully. The children follow their unique learning styles and rhythm. To many, it appears magical as the teachers take a role of a conductor of an orchestra and gently conducts this child led symphony.

If you ask a Montessori teacher why this symphony works the way it does, she/he would most probably tell you about the Montessori philosophy, and things such as the prepared environment, the materials, the sensitive periods, positive discipline or freedom within limits. The knowledge of the philosophy, child development and the materials play a vital role; however, the preparation of a Montessorian goes much, much deeper than that. We need to ultimately be able to understand and reach the children’s souls and hearts and inspire the love for learning, respectfulness and love for the world as such.

Maria Montessori viewed the role of the teacher as complex, called for spiritual preparation and deep reflection of oneself in order to overcome our own biases, prejudices and habits and to become the role model the children deserve.

"The real preparation for education is a study of one's self. The training of the teacher who is to help life is something far more than a learning of ideas. It includes the training of character; it is a preparation of the spirit." Maria Montessori

Montessori provided us with a general framework for spiritual preparation; however, she did not set specific techniques with the respect to our individual differences in different times and cultures. It is our own journey, the path we need to walk in order to become the best guides for our children. It does not happen in a day, a week, or upon completing the Montessori pedagogy studies. It is a lifelong effort that requires constant study, observation and self-reflection. We are willing to take on a risk of looking within ourselves to be open-minded in our soul-searching, as well as in our vision for the children. We start with being true to ourselves and un-peel the layers of our old habits, preconceptions, ego, and apprehensions. Our task to teach the children kindness, respect towards all living things, empathy, problem solving skills, helping children to trust their abilities and find their confidence, is not an easy task. We know that if we want our children to be it, we need to be it. Over time we need to be able to gain an ability to attune to the emotional state and needs of each and every child and guide them accordingly.

Most of us realise very early on, that being a teacher in a Montessori setting goes way beyond the classroom and our work is not a job that ends after our working hours. The spiritual preparation goes hand in hand with preparation of the school environment, observations of the children, developing and executing individual plans and learning strategies in all areas of development tailored to each child. As we train our character and mind, we start seeing a child who is not yet there and make sure that we guide the children on the path to reach their full potential.

We aim to be:

Connected to the world around us: The corner stone of Montessori philosophy is a cosmic education. We aim to nurture the understanding of interconnectedness of all life, and feeling of profound sense of responsibility for the world we live in. Our children are the future citizens of the world who will pre-determine the future of the next generations. It is a huge responsibility and not an easy task. We participate in and help children develop community. We are truly interested in children, their ideas, thoughts and interests. We aim to be active participants in our school and local communities and even go beyond. We need to be aware of the world’s current affairs and have an ability to guide the children, on a child’s level, to understand that what brings us together is greater than what tears up apart. In order to be the best example, we have to be able to do a deep cleansing of old habits, prejudices and biases gained through our life.

Connected with nature: Montessori appealed on necessity of children to be in contact with nature, and experience its beauty and harmony and how nature provides endless possibilities for learning and refining skills.  In order to pass the love and appreciation for nature, we must love it ourselves, actively seek it and protect it.

Adaptive to change: As part of reflective process, we look for better ways to do things. Many of us pursuit a traditional pedagogy prior to our Montessori pedagogy studies or had a different career path before we chose to be teachers in a Montessori setting. It takes time and great effort to change our mindset and adapt to Montessori pedagogy practices. We must put our own upbringing, influences of society and our old ways of doing things aside, open our minds and hearts to different ways and follow through. Less experienced guides embrace the guidance of the more experienced ones and the more experienced Montessorians understand their responsibility to be the best role models for everyone involved while continuing their own spiritual journey.

Humble and willing to learn from our mistakes: If something is not working, we know that we should not continue doing it. Perfection is not a reasonable goal and adults, just like children, make mistakes. We teach children that there is no such a thing as mistakes, just opportunities for growth; thus, we have to have the same mindset. We might have prepared the most well thought through lesson plan, routine or approach that in our mind is a genius idea; but, if it does not work with the children, we put our ego aside and start from the scratch.   

Always in training: Our training does not stop upon completing our pedagogy studies. Whether it is re-reading a Montessori book, participating in teachers’ inset days, conferences, workshops or seminars, we are constantly broadening our knowledge of the world and seeking ways to be the guides that keep up with a forever changing world, and new developments in the pedagogy field.

Objective & skilled observers: Eventually, we see beyond the obvious and above the milestones, skills and knowledge of the child. We train ourselves to be intuitive listeners and gain the ability to attune to the emotional state of a child. We notice and link the patterns in the child’s behaviour, recognize changes and identify the child’s interests and needs, and immediately turn our findings into concrete next steps. 

Fully present to the child and his/her current needs: Adults tend to get caught up in the future and how quickly we can get there. Children live in the present. Instead of shallow learning based on memorizing to move children quicker through the curriculum, we respect their own pace, learning styles and give them plenty of space for repetition without experiencing a feeling of pressure or failure.

Adults who found their inner child: Children live in the present moment and find joy in things adults don’t pay attention to anymore. We need to make an effort to blend with the energy the children project and create an environment that is lively, light, playful, creative and inspiring. It’s okay to be a little silly, have fun and be excited as we discover a worm in our garden, or celebrate the little big achievements of our children. We understand our role in the presence of a child. Our ‘aura’ or ‘vibe’ really matters. The impact can be powerful and positive, or powerful and negative.

This spiritual preparation is not limited to the teachers, but it inevitably extends to the parents, as they are the key educators of their offspring. Key points for us parents, to bear in mind in our daily interactions with our children:

  • To be proactive (preparing the home environment according the children’s needs and support of independence)

  • To be active listener

  • To be compassionate (modelling empathy and kindness

  • To be self aware (aware of our own temperament and the triggers)

  • Using positive words and phrases

  • Guiding, instead of over instructing our children

  • To empower children to solve problems (giving them time and space to master their skills and think of solutions)

  • To project tolerance and embrace diversity


All cultures see their children as hope for a better future, and every generation is destined to transform humanity and change the world to be a better place. However, it will never happen if we adults incorporate prejudice, follow our pride and keep pointing at the division instead of promoting peace. Every child deserves to feel the beauty of the diverse world and appreciate our connection to each other and the natural world. Every child deserves to be seen for who he/she is and treated with respect and kindness. Every child deserves a chance to reach his/her full potential. Children deserve to be guided by role models that keep working on bettering themselves, to give the children of today a better childhood and future that awaits them.


Eva is Little Gems Montessori’s manager in our Larnaca setting. If you would like to learn more about the Montessori approach, Little Gems Montessori Training Centre currently runs a parenting course at its premises. You can find more information regarding the series of interactive conversations “Montessori at Home: from Birth & Beyond” via our training centre’s webpage: Welcome!








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