Is Montessori unstructured?

At first, Montessori may look unstructured to some people, but it is actually quite structured at every level.  Just because the Montessori program is highly individualized does not mean that students can do whatever they want. 

At the early childhood level, external structure is limited to clear-cut ground rules and correct procedures that provide guidelines and structure for three-, four-, and five-year-olds.  During the elementary years, children normally work with a written study plan for the day or week.  It lists the tasks they need to complete while allowing them to decide how long to spend on each and what order they would like to follow.  Beyond these basic, individually tailored assignments, children explore topics that capture their interest and imagination and share them with their classmates.

This gradual addition of responsibility to the student for the completion of tasks selected from the Montessori curriculum builds independence and confidence.

Adapted from “The Montessori Way,” by Tim Seldin & Paul Epstein Ph.D., published by the Montessori Foundation, 2006.

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