Ground Rules (Montessori)

From Montepedia
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The term "ground rules" is often used in Montessori education to refer to the guiding principles that dictate appropriate behaviour within the classroom. These rules provide a framework for classroom conduct and play an essential role in establishing a respectful and collaborative learning environment[1].

At every age level, the ground rules in a Montessori setting are straightforward: children are free to engage with any materials or activities available in the environment, provided they do so with respect. They are expected not to harm the material, themselves, or others. By setting these boundaries, the ground rules promote an atmosphere of mutual respect, self-regulation, and responsible freedom[2].

Montessori Quotes on Ground Rules

"Discipline must come through liberty... We do not consider an individual disciplined only when he has been rendered as artificially silent as a mute and as immovable as a paralytic. He is an individual annihilated, not disciplined."

— Maria Montessori, "The Montessori Method"

Research and Critiques


  • Ground rules foster a sense of responsibility and self-regulation in students[3].
  • By fostering mutual respect, ground rules create a positive learning environment[4].


  • Some critics argue that this approach might not provide enough structure for some children who might require more explicit behavioural guidelines[5].
  • There is a risk of children misusing materials without sufficient guidance[6].

Comparison to Other Methods

  • Traditional classrooms often impose more explicit and detailed rules for classroom conduct. In contrast, the Montessori approach with its ground rules provides children with more freedom while still setting clear expectations for respectful behaviour[7].

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.[8] The glossary has since been expanded and updated with additional 'Montessori Terms'.

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  1. Kendall, P. C., & Marcmzak, M. (1994). Ground rules of cognitive-behavioral therapy: An examination of client and therapist agreement. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 18(6), 605-620.
  2. Montessori, M. (1995). Absorbent mind. New York: Henry Holt.
  3. Lillard, A. S. (2017). Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. Oxford University Press.
  4. Montessori, M. (1995). Absorbent mind. New York: Henry Holt.
  5. Chattin-McNichols, J. (1992). The Montessori controversy. Delmar Publishers.
  6. Lillard, A. S., & Else-Quest, N. (2006). The early years: Evaluating Montessori education. Science, 313(5795), 1893-1894.
  7. Montessori, M. (1995). Absorbent mind. New York: Henry Holt.
  8. Haines, A. (2001). Glossary of Montessori Terms. Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis.