Eight Distinctive Features of the Authentic Montessori Experience

Independence
Besides the obvious displays of independence like being able to choose work for oneself, there is a certain autonomy that marks the Montessori child. They are used to doing things themselves rather than having an adult do everything for them.
   
Confidence
The Montessori child approaches life’s challenges confidently. They may not know the answer or solution to every problem, but they know where to find help if they need it. This is not an arrogant confidence that presumes to be right at everything, but the kind of confidence that allows a child to try new things and be adventurous.
   
Self-discipline
Self-discipline enables children to make the right choices without adult intervention. The child cannot achieve self-discipline without instruction and help from the teachers and parents. Guiding a child’s inner development is not something that can be done overnight; it’s a long-term process that focuses on incremental improvements.
   
Intrinsic motivation
The idea behind the beautifully prepared environment of the Montessori classroom is that each material – and indeed, the set-up of the entire classroom – will appeal to the child’s inner needs. The teacher should never need to force or coerce a child into doing work. The child will instinctively know what they need to do. If the teacher or parent is always giving direction, the child will never get a chance to hear that “inner voice”.
   
Ability to handle external authority
One popular misconception of Montessori is that children are allowed to run around and misbehave and basically do anything they want to with no interference on the teacher’s part. Nothing could be further from the truth. The child in the Montessori environment is treated with respect, but is expected to respect the teacher, the materials, and the other members of the class as well. Strong-willed children find it very difficult to handle external authority, but with time and patience can begin to graciously follow directions when necessary.
   
Academic achievement
While we don’t wish to make only academics the cornerstone of a Montessori education, they are indeed important. Each child will develop differently, but there should always be some progress over time. Montessori may have more elastic boundaries when it comes to grade-level expectations, but there are still general skills to be mastered in the 3-year cycles. It’s important to know which materials are presented in each level, and whether or not the child has completed them successfully.
   
Spiritual awareness
The Montessori philosophy recognizes that a child has more than just a mind and body: they possess a soul as well. The child’s soul needs to be nourished through art, music, literature, nature, moral lessons, religious instruction, and relationships. A Montessori child will have appreciation and respect for spiritual issues, and for other people as spiritual beings.
   
Responsible citizenship
Since the Montessori curriculum stresses the interdependence of all living things, global awareness will come quite naturally to the Montessori child. They will be interested in current events, in helping others less fortunate than themselves, and in treating our planet kindly.