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?