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Glossary of Montessori Terms

Communication Author

Annette Haines

Communication Order


Communication Issue

Communications 2002/2-3

Communication Text

Any science has it own vocabulary and terminology and the Montessori Method is no exception. Montessorians share a very specific set of references, references which of themselves are brief and succinct yet each one evokes the world of the child as described by Maria Montessori. Montessori language acts as a password, enabling the sender and the receiver to immediately decode the message being transmitted. This glossary was prepared by Annette Haines at the request of Molly O’Shaughnessy to accompany her lecture at the Joint Annual Refresher Course, held in Tampa, Florida in February 2001. As an appetizer to the full glossary, here are just a few: Control of Error: A way of providing instant feedback. Every Montessori activity provides the child with some way of assessing his own progress. This puts the control in the hands of the learner and protects the young child's self-esteem and self-motivation. Control of error is an essential aspect of auto-education. Exercises of Practical Life: One of the four areas of activities of the Montessori prepared environment. The exercises of Practical Life resemble the simple work of life in the home: sweeping, dusting, washing dishes, etc. These purposeful activities help the child adapt to his new community, learn self-control and begin to see himself as a contributing party of the social unit. His intellect grows as he works with his hands; his personality becomes integrated as body and mind function as a unit. Mixed Ages: One of the hallmarks of the Montessori method is that children of mixed ages work together in the same class. Age-groupings are based on developmental planes. Children from 3-6 years of age are together in the Children's House; 6-9 year-olds share the lower elementary and the upper elementary is made up of 9-12 year-olds. Because the work is individual, children progress at their own pace; there is cooperation rather than competition between the ages.