The role of adults in Montessori pedagogy


When I entered these specialized classes, I met children who not only had an intellectual disability, but also great physical difficulties of the hemiplegia, paraplegia, visual impairment, epilepsy seizures types. 

Montessori is revolutionary!

As a result, these children were always accompanied or assisted and very often things were done for them. And I come in and say, “Well, we’re going to stop all this! “I triggered a wave of panic! And suddenly, Montessori became dangerous! I knew we were on the eve of a great revolution! And then I realized that the greatest work to be done is not with children, but with adults. You know, it’s the adults that need to be changed, not the children!

It is true that we currently have a culture of control and fear. The more we want to protect the child, the more we control him. 

And yet, we want the child, where he is now and with what he can do, to develop his confidence.

But how can we promote the child’s autonomous development if we constantly short-circuit his or her development, even in safe situations? How can the child not doubt himself when we constantly intervene to “correct” what we too commonly call “error”? And how can we open up learning spaces for the child in a culture where we have become accustomed to “talking” when we could simply “show”.

Trust is not a feeling, it is about observation

In our culture we think a lot but we observe little. However, careful observation of a situation can allow us to make an appropriate decision. 

However, we ended up blending trust with a feeling. In everyday language we often use this “feeling” when we say, for example, “I feel that I can trust you”. However, the challenge is not to “feel” which would leave a lot of room for risk and uncertainty, but to observe the availability of a capacity in relation to a given situation. Thus observation makes it possible to assess the reliability of an ability to deploy in a situation that can mobilize it.

Example: little girl and the tray.

The child realized 2 things:

  • That dropping the object was not a big deal! She could pick up and then start again. At first she was waiting for us to come. She observed thinking she was going to be scolded, but no, we encouraged her to pick as much as she could.
  • That she could carry the basket alone from one point to another without spilling. 

I couldn’t describe his joy with words! 

Why was this child’s joy made possible?

Because there was minimal or no intervention at all 

Whatever the child’s difficulties, whether to acquire useful knowledge or to develop a skill, children all have their own rhythm and this rhythm must be respected. 

Similar to a plant, their growth can be accompanied by a few favourable gestures. But the push will ultimately come on its own. If you want to provoke it, the harvest will only be compromised.

The teacher followed the same path as the child

We had to stop his momentum to rescue the child more than once!

And then one day, they understood that the child proceeds by trial and error in order to carry out an activity. By repeating multiple times the sum of gestures that can lead to a result, he acquires the awareness of the time required to actualize a realization and the patience to bring it to completion.

Thanks to the observation of the children, the fear has disappeared and especially the false belief that to be a good teacher you have to help the children at all times. 

The atmosphere of both classes has completely changed.

The place of the adult in Montessori pedagogy: what to remember

  1. Trust is not a feeling, it is about observation
  2. No or few interventions unless there is a “real” danger

My gift to you

“Unleash the child’s potential and you will transform the world with him” Maria Montessori

Montessori: the power of repetition during learning difficulties


In learning, the importance of repetition is no longer to be demonstrated. The latest discoveries in neuroscience prove it. 

Example: the more I play the piano, the more I become a virtuoso. My knowledge becomes more stable, more solid because repetition traces and digs real furrows in my brain. 

On the other hand, if you have stopped playing the piano for 10 years, you feel that when you get back to it you can’t start again exactly where you stopped it. The neural connections are still there, but they are very thin. 

How can we make sure that the brain keeps the information as long as possible?

Well, we’ll have to go against a preconceived idea already! The brain doesn’t just store. It sorts the information and those that it doesn’t think are important, it doesn’t keep.  

Know that without your knowledge, since you’ve been watching this video, your brain has been sorting through what I say, sometimes it keeps, sometimes it doesn’t. This is why many people take notes or highlight important passages in a book. 

It is true that our brain is so busy during the day that it sorts out: that I keep, that I don’t keep. 

But when the brain sees information pass twice a day, it wonders and says to itself: “yours! Maybe I should keep it! » 

Repetition in children with learning difficulties and Montessori

So let’s get back to our Dylan. He uses a cylinder block that includes 10 cylinders. When he looks at the presentation, he will see 10 times the same series of gestures:

  • Open all 3 fingers
  • Grasp the button above the cylinder
  • Lift slowly
  • Gently place the cylinder on the table

His brain sees this group of gestures 10 times, he understands that it is necessary to retain it.

Sometimes for some children we did the presentation twice.

But for his brain to remember this, the child will have to practice and not just once in a while.

So, his muscle memory will start working! Dylan has done a total of 20 times these groups of gestures. For his brain, the message is clear!

But note that for these children it is important the next day, I mean the next day to perhaps resume the presentation to launch the information to the brain, It is important! 

Then let him practice 1, 2, 3 or even 10 times all the work. And this time the brain understands: “I keep it in long-term memory.”

It should be noted that if the child does not see anything in 24 hours, then he only keeps 25% of what he has learned. After a week, 7 to 8%. After 1 month 2 or 3%.

But for a child with learning difficulties, it’s even worse. 

What to remember

  • The brain not only stores, it sorts and eliminates what it doesn’t think is important.
  • Repetition is essential to learning.
  • The brain understands by repeating that information should not be eliminated.
  • Montessori equipment allows and encourages repetition.

My gift to you

“The child, both young and old, feels a need to do exercises over and over again and to follow his own path of development by his own means.” Maria Montessori

Montessori: the power of roots and the absorbent mind


The absorbent mind is a mental power!

When I think back to the experience with Dylan in the previous video, the first thing that strikes me is his attitude.

During the presentation:

  • He observes without moving
  • He is calm
  • He smiles

During work:

  • His hand and eyes start working
  • He observes each cylinder and the notches to put them back in the right place
  • He is calm
  • He smiles

What does that mean? Well, he sets in motion what Maria Montessori calls the Absorbent Mind of the child.

What is the Absorbent Mind?

It is this form of intelligence that children use to learn by observing. They use their 5 senses for this purpose.

They are real sponges. The child does not learn through effort and hardship, but just by living and experimenting.

The Absorbent Mind is a mental power… Yes, I mean a power! 

I remember when I was little and walking to school in the streets of Paris. I was fascinated by the roots of the trees that passed through the tar. 

Well, the Absorbent Mind of the child is so powerful that we could compare it to those roots that pass through the tar. Tar could be compared to the famous handicaps! Yes Dylan can work in the same way as a child without any specific needs. Because the Absorbent Mind is so powerful that it passes through the barriers.

On this subject, I can tell you about Peter, an autistic child. When we started the first presentations, he refused to look and systematically turned his head to the other side. We decided to continue this presentation whether or not he was watching, each time we proposed to him to do the exercise again, he refused. 

We were convinced that he was recording something of the presentation, even if only in terms of hearing! It lasted several weeks. And then one day, he started turning his head for a fraction of a second, still refusing to practice. We continued without any requirements.

A little later, he accepted and at the first try he did everything right….. 

So the Absorbent Mind is present in all children of any age.

You have to give the child time! And above all, believe in it….

You remember the old silver cameras and their famous films. It was necessary to pass the films in different baths for the image to appear and well the child is like this device. It absorbs all the details of the presentation. 

Different products will have to be used to make the image appear on the paper. The different products are called: Freedom, time, patience and kindness and above all faith in the possibilities of the Absorbent Mind.

To remember:

  • The Absorbent Mind is the form of intelligence that pushes the child to learn through observation.
  • The child is a sponge
  • The Absorbent Mind is as powerful as the roots of a tree 

My gift to you:

“The child is not a vase to be filled, but a spring to be sprinkled” 

Maria Montessori

This applies to all children!

Dylan: Montessori pedagogy at the service of a child with Down’s syndrome


Who’s Dylan? 

A trisomic child. A boy locked up in his world. He doesn’t seem to understand the instructions. Has no group life and even annoys other children. 

How he started with Montessori 

He starts with the Practical Living material: Carrying a chair, Carrying a tray, Transferring seeds and there we saw him listening to the sound of the seeds falling into the bowl.

He began to build a form of intelligence by repeating the different presentations with an increasingly elaborate process. We started the Sensory and then one day…

Cylinder blocks

That morning, the educator introduced her to the first cylinder block, we didn’t know if it would work, but we wanted to try it and frankly, we believed it.

The educator begins the presentation. Each gesture is delicate, gentle and very slow. The child no longer moves, his gaze goes from the material to the educator, he is as attentive as ever. Sometimes he tilts his head to see better and sniffs from time to time! He smiles when he sees the size of the cylinders changing. One or two adults walk through the classroom and Dylan can’t see or hear the door opening.

Then the educator moves the block of cylinders in front of him and suggests that he do it again. He smiles and with even more delicacy, he takes the cylinders out one by one, puts them quietly on the table and then tries to put them back one after the other. He observes each notch to check the size, sometimes he changes cylinder because it is not the right one. 

Untiringly he continues his gaze is always fixed on his work. His body doesn’t move, his face is smooth. He shows maximum concentration without any tension, without fear, without anxiety as if he had done this all his life. 

And I, who was watching the scene, was speechless, never in my 30-year career had I seen so much concentration. I was moved. 

Once finished, he gets a huge smile of happiness. He shows that he wants to do it again. 

And here we go again for at least 10 minutes of work in silence in calm and peace. I move my gaze to the educator and I see 2 big tears on her face, we were so moved. 

For this child so disturbed, he had just worked without stopping for 25 minutes. 

When he finished, he put his equipment away and left jumping.

On that day, we both tasted a moment of absolute grace

Dylan showed us the vastness of his intelligence. He knew how to communicate his peace, his joy and his happiness to us as if he was saying “Well, you see! That’s what I need! »

This is what a Montessori atmosphere produces. This is what Montessori equipment produces. Is there a difference between a child who says without difficulty and a child with specific needs?

My gift to you

“We started with educational and cultural methods for the child and discovered that he is our master.” Maria Montessori.

Elisabeth Chastel: Montessori Pedagogy for Children with Disabilities


My name is Elizabeth and I am a mother of 3 daughters and also a grandmother of 3 grandchildren. I will present to you how I came to work as a Montessori educator with children with disabilities.

From an early age, I wanted to focus on children and became a Pediatric Auxiliary. After a few years of working in a nursery school, very quickly, I realized that I was only doing babysitting. I thought these nurseries were sad! Was that what I wanted? No! I thought I wasn’t cut out to work with children.


I went to nursing school so I could go to Africa to work.

After graduating, I studied tropical medicine in Belgium in Antwerp. And then I learned that we had to consider the human being as a whole, taking into account his culture, his family, his beliefs, in short, everything he was! It was a great revelation for me.

I had to unlearn a lot of my nursing training and look at medicine differently.

I went to a small village in northern Cameroon for a few years and put into practice everything I had learned. What a great Life experience!

Back in France, I got married and as soon as I had children very quickly, we wanted to offer another school for our three daughters.

One of my friends introduced me to Montessori Pedagogy and it was love at first sight. Finally, a pedagogy that takes into account who my children are.

I have been to schools. And then, while observing the educators and the atmosphere in the classroom, I thought to myself…” I’ll never make it! “As there was no school near us, I started to train.

At the time, I worked at night in the hospital and when I had a moment free, I made my own equipment that I presented to my daughters the next day. One evening, I remember one of them seeing me making Seguin’s Tables, she said to me: “Wow, Mom! Can you show it to us tomorrow? “Yes” My daughter just told me “Thank you” What an encouragement for me

I did the educator trainings 3-6 and 6-12, while continuing my work as a nurse.


And then one day, I took the plunge … I quit my job and opened a school with one of my friends.

When I was a nurse, people told me: “What a great job! You help people!”.

Yes, it was true! But for me to accompany children in the discovery of the world is like giving birth to them! It’s a beautiful and noble profession and I’m so proud of it!

I have worked a lot in classes 6-9 and 6-12 and on several occasions, I have had children in difficulty, and even with disabilities.

I participated in the creation of 2 Montessori AMI training centres. Accompanying adults in the discovery of what a child really is and following the evolution of each one through a benevolent pedagogy, what a privilege!


A few years ago, I was contacted by a school in Switzerland, which has 2 specialized classes with children with special needs (poly handicapped). The team saw that the children in front of the “cards” could not work and were looking for another way to do it. They chose Montessori Pedagogy.

It was a real revelation for me, these children took me to their world. They taught me so much! They managed to bring down my false beliefs. I have discovered extraordinary teachers who have agreed to completely change the way they do things.

We set up workshops and the results were almost immediate. The children were happy, calm and focused. It was incredible! The adults told me “But I didn’t know they were capable of so much work! “They’re so calm! “And this time, the adults were happy and passionate about what they discovered.

Through these videos, I would like to share with you these few experiences. And why not, to remove concerns, even prejudices that prevent us from unlocking the potential of each child.

You can’t reduce a child to a disability, he’s so much more! Isn’t that right?