Glossary of Montessori Terms



The Trained and Transformed Guide

is an adult who: 

• understands human development deeply
• is dedicated to cultivating a sense of awe for the beautiful and complex workings of the universe, eagerness to explore the place and purpose of the individual within the great cosmic systems, and humility in the face of the infinite potential of the child
• is trained to observe children in order to make educated judgements about their individual needs
• prepares and furnishes a rich and varied place of learning that attracts the interests of the children
• acts as a guide to help each child find satisfying engagement in meaningful work
• creates a learning community that empowers children to regulate themselves, and to take responsibility for one another and their environment
• Is committed to following the personality of child as the primary source of guidance in professional practice

The Environment

is a learning space which:

• is beautiful and simple
• is prepared with furniture that is proportional to the size, weight, and strength of the children, inviting children to exercise independence and self-control in their movements
• is furnished with a rich diversity of materials that invite a wide variety of work and interaction
• is organized so that each material has a designated place on a shelf

The Materials 

are intentionally designed manipulatives that

• attract the children and serve their developmental needs
• require the intelligent use of the hands, or the collaboration of the hands and the intellect
• are designed to enable “self education” by giving corrective feedback so that children can teach themselves
• are available in dlimited numbers, so that children learn to be patient and take turns
• are shelved thematically and sequentially so that children can internalize content areas and work sequences

Planes of Development

are stages of growth identified and described by Dr. Montessori, which

• last 6 years each, from birth to adulthood,
• are 4 in number, between birth and maturity
• are defined by unique characteristics, needs, capacities, and interests that are universal to all children in that stage of development,
• are the organism's way of accomplishing the developmental tasks that are neccesary to a given stage,
• are (during the first 6 years and during adolescence) further divided into 3 year sub-planes: 3 years of "acquisition and chaos" followed by 3 years of "consolidation and stability."

The Three Year Cycle is a rhythm that Dr. Montessori observed in child development, which: 

• defines the age range of the children in a Montessori community
• enables children to enter a learning community as humble novices, and transition out of the same community, 3 years later, as confident leaders.