Choice (Montessori)

From Montepedia
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"Choice" in the context of the Montessori classroom refers to the freedom given to students to select their activities, materials, and pace of work based on their individual interests, needs, and developmental stage. This concept underscores the Montessori belief that children are natural learners, and when given autonomy, they can direct their own educational paths with enthusiasm and purpose.

Montessori Quotes:

  • "The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. The child who concentrates is immensely happy."[1]
  • "The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences."[2]
  • "Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed."[3]

Research and Critiques:


  • Enhanced Engagement: Children who are given a choice in their learning tend to be more engaged, leading to better retention and understanding.[4]
  • Promotion of Independence: Offering choice promotes independence and decision-making skills, essential traits for adulthood.[5]
  • Enhanced Intrinsic Motivation: Children have an increased desire to learn when they feel they have a say in their educational journey.[6]


  • Potential for Skewed Focus: There's a possibility that children may overfocus on one area of interest, potentially neglecting other important areas of study.
  • Lack of Structure: Critics argue that too much choice can lead to a lack of structure, potentially hindering learning outcomes.
  • Not Suitable for Everyone: Some children might feel overwhelmed or anxious when given too much choice, preferring a more structured environment.

Comparison to Other Methods:

Traditional Education System: Unlike the Montessori method that emphasizes choice, traditional educational systems often have a fixed curriculum with predetermined activities and a set pace for all students. This might not cater to individual students' interests or paces of learning.

Reggio Emilia Approach: Like Montessori, the Reggio Emilia approach emphasizes child-driven projects. However, it places more emphasis on social collaboration, considering the child as part of a broader community.

Waldorf Education: While Waldorf education, like Montessori, respects the individual needs of the child, it follows a more predetermined curriculum based on developmental stages and does not provide as much autonomy in terms of choice as the Montessori method.

Glossary of Montessori Terms

The Glossary of Montessori Terms is a collection of specific terms and vocabulary that are related to the Montessori method of education, primarily focusing on the theory and practice for children aged 3 to 6. The jargon used by Montessori educators offers a unique insight into child development as discussed by Maria Montessori. The 'Montepedia Glossary of Montessori Terms' originated from a glossary that was compiled by the late Annette Haines from the Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis, at the request of Molly O'Shaughnessy from the Montessori Centre of Minnesota. The reason behind the creation of this glossary was to supplement O'Shaughnessy's lecture at the Joint Annual Refresher Course that took place in Tampa, Florida, in February 2001.[7] The glossary has since been expanded and updated with additional 'Montessori Terms'.

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  1. Montessori, Maria. The Absorbent Mind. Kalakshetra Press, 1949.
  2. Montessori, Maria. The Secret of Childhood. Ballantine Books, 1966.
  3. Maria Montessori
  4. Deci, E.L., Vallerand, R.J., Pelletier, L.G., & Ryan, R.M. (1991). Motivation and education: The self-determination perspective. Educational psychologist, 26(3 & 4), 325-346.
  5. Lillard, A. S. (2017). Montessori: The science behind the genius. Oxford University Press.
  6. Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (2000). The "what" and "why" of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227-268.
  7. Haines, A. (2001). Glossary of Montessori Terms. Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis.