How Montessori Preschools Build Your Child’s Self-Sufficiency and Independence

Dr. Maria Montessori often taught those around her to teach by this principle, “Help me to do it myself”. This can be achieved through the prepared environment where space is given to be independent and self-sufficient. During a time when kids have become even more reliant on their parents to do things for them (which sometimes even carries on into young adulthood), it becomes increasingly important that we teach our children self-sufficiency skills. One of the main goals of Montessori preschools is to raise a generation of independent and self-sufficient individuals.

This is important because success in life is almost always correlated to the degree in which people perceive themselves as independent. The way we achieve this independence and subsequent success is by starting at an early age. We prepare the environment to foster their best development. Then we observe and watch the child strive to be independent, grow, and learn. Hence, early childhood is the perfect time to start learning the skills that are necessary to be self-reliant and begin practicing them until the children can act on their own without help.

Care of Self

Learning how to take care of oneself is one of the biggest achievements that a child makes in the Montessori journey of becoming self-sufficient. In Montessori preschools, care of self is taught through practical life activities. Practical life exercises include learning basic skills needed on a daily basis. They are everyday life activities that a child learns to do in a purposeful way. The child learns about their own movements and learns how to refine their coordination. Some of these activities include dressing and undressing, which involves actions that sharpen fine motor skills, such as buttoning shirts and putting on shoes. Brushing teeth, combing hair, using the restroom, and preparing food are other practical life activities that a child may learn in a Montessori classroom.

Freedom of Choice

“Freedom of choice” comes from a well-prepared environment. This prepared environment is the key! The Montessori method has its roots in belief that each child is an individual that deserves to be respected. This is why children have freedom of choice in the classroom. In Montessori preschools, children are allowed to make their own decisions on what they work on. They are given the autonomy to choose to work on the lessons that interest them the most.


It is through independence that the birth of self-esteem begins. All opportunities around the children helps them build a better self-image leading to higher self-esteem. Unfortunately, children who become dependent on their parents or caregivers for everything, will eventually have lower self-esteem. On the bright side, however, one of the benefits of guiding children to become independent is that it raises their self-esteem.

Gaining a sense of self-reliance and independence also helps to develop a healthy self-image. When a child is shown how to do something, and then they are allowed to do it on their own, it boosts their self-esteem more than any amount of verbal praise ever will. The activities that the children complete teach them not only pride and a positive self-image but also perseverance.

Dr. Montessori on Self-Sufficiency and Independence:

Dr. Maria Montessori believed that every child was born with the natural capability of being an independent individual.

“Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence.” -Maria Montessori

Practical Life Activities

A Montessori education differs from a traditional daycare in many ways. One of the most important elements of a Montessori curriculum is the use of practical life activities. These activities are things that we do in our daily lives, such as cleaning, sewing, and gardening. Practical life activities serve many different purposes in a Montessori preschool and you typically won’t find these in your average daycare.

Improving Developmental Skills

Practical life activities help children develop concentration skills, as well as control and coordination of movement. Tasks as simple as serving a drink to someone enhance multiple skills. When a child pours water from a pitcher into a glass, several things are occurring. First, the child is developing fine motor skills in the hands, fingers and wrist from the pouring motion that is happening. Hand-eye coordination is also used as the child guides the pitcher towards the empty glass. Finally, the child is using concentration skills to make sure that the water is not spilling or overflowing out of the glass.

Positive Self-Esteem

Children see adults as role models and imitate adult behavior. When a child has the opportunity to complete “an adult task,” they feel important and gain a sense of pride. They develop confidence in their abilities and a sense of independence. Being able to meaningfully contribute to the home by sweeping kitchen floors or sewing a button back onto a shirt helps a child feel more positive about himself, self-sufficient – fulfilling their drive toward functional independence.  This sense of purpose and improved self-esteem only increases as a child learns to master more challenging tasks.

As adults, we look at daily activities such as washing dishes and folding clothing as boring chores that are necessary in order to keep a clean home. For children, however, these chores are interesting activities that adults do every day. When you take the time to teach your child how to do these simple activities, you are showing them that you trust them and see them as a contributing member of the family.

Preparing Children for Reality

Practical life activities prepare children for the real world by teaching and refining individual skills to be carried out in purposeful activities becoming productive members in society. While traditional schools and education tend to focus solely on developing reading and mathematical skills, Montessori schools believe that reality-based skills set the foundation for academic skills, and should be taught as well. A good Montessori school will use authentic materials in the learning environment. For example, shoes should be cleaned with real polish, and water should be poured into a real glass.

While materials should be real, it is best to use materials that are proportionate to the child. If a child is watering a plant, the handle must fit her hand and she must be able to easily carry the watering can. A child would not be able to lift a regular-sized watering can, so we use a smaller-sized can. The can is the same color, shape, and texture as the regular-sized one, but in a version that is the right size for a child.

Practical Life at Silverline Montessori

At Silverline Montessori School, practical life activities are an important part of our curriculum. As an Associate Member School of the American Montessori Society, we provide a high-quality and authentic Montessori education to our students. Our locations in Pearland and Towne Lake Cypress are dedicated to preparing children for future success in both education and life. We strive to be a top tier Montessori preschool, exceeding the expectations that parents may have when seeking a preschool or daycare for their child.


Four Planes of Development in a Montessori School

When you walk into a Montessori school for the first time, one of the first things that you may notice is the classroom structure. Unlike a traditional school where the students are grouped together by birth year, where typically whole group learning is based on chronological age, a Montessori environment uses 3-year, mixed-age grouping, where instruction is personalized to meet individual and small group needs.  This multi-age classroom structure is based on Dr. Montessori’s observations and work that revealed there are four different stages of development from birth to early adulthood.  She referred to these as planes of development.  Others in Psychology and Education may use the terms ‘stages’ or ‘phases’.

According to Dr. Montessori, each plane of development is characterized by distinct sensitive periods for learning – where children exhibit certain needs, attributes and characteristics at each plane of development. During these sensitive periods, a child undergoes a period of intense developmental change followed by a period of assimilation, marked by a student showing confidence in his newly acquired abilities. Using this model offers a holistic framework where learning and classroom structure is based on stages aligned with developmental psychology.

The Four Planes of Development are as follows:

The First Plane: Birth to Age 6 (Early Childhood)

During the first plane of development, children are soaking up the world. Dr. Montessori calls this the “absorbent mind,” meaning that the child’s brain has a sponge-like capacity to absorb from the environment all that is necessary to develop an individual from her specific culture.

At this age, children are focusing on the self and have a strong desire for physical independence. You will notice an “I can do it myself!” mentality. The foundation for a child’s personality is also laid during this time.

This plane is characterized by sensitive periods that include movement, language, toileting, order, grace and courtesy, music, reading, writing, social relationships, and mathematics.

The Second Plane: Ages 6–12 (Childhood)

The second plane of development is characterized by a thirst for knowledge and a strong desire for intellectual independence. You will notice an “I can think it myself!” mentality.

At this age, children begin searching for moral order and develop their conscience, or sense of right and wrong. This is a good time to teach your child fairness, and show him how he can help others.

During this stage, children learn from a “cosmic education” in a Montessori school, which encourages them to explore their place within the world, as well as appreciate the interconnectedness of all things.

The Third Plane: Ages 12–18 (Adolescence)

Marked by feelings of self-concern and self-assessment, the third plane of development is a sensitive period for critical thinking and exploring deeper moral and social values.

At this age, adolescents have a deep desire for emotional independence. You will notice an “I can stand on my own” mentality.

During this stage, the adolescent works on constructing his social self and feels the need to participate and have more control over his life.

The Fourth Plane: Ages 18–24 (Maturity)

The fourth plane of development is characterized by the young adult working on their spiritual self or constructing a higher-level of self-understanding.

This stage is marked by a strong desire for financial independence. You will notice an “I can get it myself” mentality.

During this time, the young adult discovers their place within the world and asks herself “What do I have to give to the world?”

The Planes of Development at Silverline Montessori School

At Silverline Montessori School, our education programs are designed to meet the needs of children in the first and second planes of development. Our focus is on developing the child’s potential during these distinct “windows of time” or sensitive periods. We keep our classroom sizes small to create an emotionally nurturing environment that is at the same time cognitively challenging. Our goal is to foster self-directed learners that become confident in their abilities by the end of each plane of development.

“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.” – Dr. Maria Montessori



Montessori Environment at Home: How to Design a Montessori Bedroom for Your Toddler

Just like a meticulously designed Montessori classroom can encourage order, independence and self-motivation, so too can a carefully crafted Montessori bedroom. Bringing the Montessori environment into your home not only cultivates your child’s confidence but also serves as a bridge to what your toddler learns at school.

Here are some ways that you can implement Montessori principles into your toddler’s bedroom to create a Montessori environment at home:

Get a floor bed.

A floor bed provides children with the ultimate form of independence. It allows him to easily climb in and out of bed without any extra help from his parents. This gives the child much more control over himself.

Provide low storage space.

Make sure that your child’s belongings – toys and clothes – are within their reach. An easy way to do this is to set up low shelves or cubbies in the room to make their toys accessible and baskets to place books within arm’s reach. You can also install a lower rod in the closet so that your child can choose her own clothes.  Being able to do this empowers the child by allowing her to make her own decisions.

Supply child-sized furniture.

By adding a tiny table and chair, you can create a toddler-friendly work space, yet another way to foster your child’s ability to self-motivate. To make the environment even more appealing to a toddler, try adding a cozy beanbag chair or a tiny rocking chair. Either one would serve as the perfect place for your little one to settle down with his favorite storybook.

Keep it simple.

A Montessori space encourages simplicity and order. You can de-clutter by putting any excess toys or furniture in storage.

Decorate with low-hanging paintings.

This again goes back to the whole concept of scaling things down so that they are at your child’s level. By hanging paintings at a lower level, you give your child the ability to explore and interact with her environment. Hanging the paintings at eye level also give your child the chance to truly appreciate the artwork.

Add a mirror.

Children love looking at themselves and admiring their own clothing selections and a mirror enables them to do this. By hanging a child-height mirror in the room, you also promote self-care as it allows children to look at themselves as they get dressed and brush their hair.

Our Environment

At Silverline Montessori School, we provide our students with a carefully planned Montessori environment that includes a wide variety of Montessori materials. Our classrooms are designed specifically to promote creativity, imagination, independence, and self-awareness.