Raising Mindful Humans With the Montessori Approach

At Small World Montessori, we aim to prepare the “whole” child for life. What does this mean in our fast-paced world today? As Montessori suggests: “Personal health is related (..) to the worship of life in all its natural beauty.”

It means empowering children with a foundation of wellness practices that can help them build resilience by boosting their physical, emotional, and mental health. Well-being is a universal human aspiration, and healthy habits can be learned. Yet teaching them, like building muscle, takes intentionality. Here are three areas where Montessori meets wellness.

Physical Wellness

Movement takes a centerstage position in Montessori as a foundation for child development and well-being and as a cornerstone of learning. In The Montessori Method, Montessori dedicated a whole chapter to physical education, which she called “muscular education.” Montessori believed movement to be a catalyst for cognitive development. The pioneering idea that led her to advocate for bringing movement to the spotlight in education was that children actually need to move to learn because learning happens through movement. In her book The Secret of Childhood, Montessori stated, “Movement, or physical activity, is an essential factor in intellectual growth.”

Spiritual Wellness

Spiritual well-being is often said to be fostered through mindfulness, which entails being non-judgmentally aware and fully engaged in the present moment. In Montessori, we can find two elements straightforwardly linked to the concept of mindfulness. First, being attentive to what is happening here and now involves focus. Montessori likewise emphasized concentration as the basis for a child’s inner discipline, tranquility, and happiness.

Next to sensorial work, we can find different Montessori lessons that align with mindfulness practices. Walk on the Line, for example, this activity can be conceived as a moving meditation, which happens when we reach a meditative state while doing simple movements. Likewise, the Silence Game, where children need to practice self-control to sit quietly and listen attentively, can be considered an exercise in mindfulness.

Social Wellness

A Montessori environment is also a place where children are both empowered through choice and independence and, at the same time, actively encouraged to collaborate and contribute to class life. This sends the message that every individual is essential to the community. In The Discovery of the Child, Montessori explains: “Through practical exercises (…) the children develop a true ‘social feeling,’ for they are working in the environment of the community in which they live, without concerning themselves as to whether it is for their own, or for the common good.” In this sense, practical life activities promote community building and social wellness.

Moreover, the fact that students in Montessori typically remain in the same classroom for three years supports the development of long-lasting relationships. This enables the formation of tight bonds and helps foster a sense of fellowship that inspires collaboration. In Montessori, a strong focus is placed on respect for peers, teachers, and even the classroom materials. At the same time, values like kindness and service are celebrated. Through Grace and Courtesy lessons, for example, children get to practice social skills and build positive relationships with other classroom community members. Likewise, Circle Time activities contribute to socio-emotional learning.

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*This article was inspired by an article from the American Montessori Society.