Capturing Ordinary Days:
Child Time and Child Space

The availability of an extended, uninterrupted three-hour work period and a meticulously maintained prepared environment are vital to establishing a quality experience for the child in the Montessori primary setting. Every day the children enter ready to work and spend time in this special place. The normal transitions of daily life are easily integrated into an environment designed with “child time” and “child space” in mind.

MY DAY (18:57)
Experience the Montessori approach through three primary children as they journey through their morning work periods.

MY DAY Study Guide
My Day is a short video following three children, each with their own distinct style of learning, through a typical morning experience inside a Montessori primary environment. Here are a few questions to ask yourself or discuss with others while watching MY DAY:

  • How does the prepared environment, including the teacher, accommodate each child’s distinct learning style? How comfortable is each child inside his or her learning community? How does that ease support their experience? What creates that ease?
  • How does each child choose to connect with the setting? Watch Paloma’s hands as she experiences her primary environment. Can you hear her singing and humming as she works? What sensitive periods do her choices indicate?
  • Dr. Montessori often mentioned the child who chooses to learn through observing others or who may wander “with purpose” in the classroom. Watch what Miguel is watching. Were there points at which you would have intervened but that resolved themselves in a way that surprised you? Look for his focus and deep engagement. 
  • Many times while observing a child in their work, a teacher can see which points of interest emphasized during the introductory lesson caught the child’s attention. Can you pick out the little “points of interest” that resonate with Jackson as he sets out to explore the lessons/experiences he has been introduced to? (Hints: watch his hands during the folding work and look for how he checks how wet the floor is during the snack episode.)

Special Note:  Dr. Montessori encouraged regular scientific observation of the child as a critical tool. She designed a simple diagram which could be used to accurately record the curve of work of a single child, a class or in her words, “demonstrate the course of phenomena more clearly” for an observer.  My Day features three examples of this diagram. More on the use of  such diagramming to support scientific observation can be found in the chapter entitled, “My Contribution to Experimental Science” in Dr. Montessori’s book, The Advanced Montessori Method I. 

Capturing ordinary days in Montessori environments...  Transitions bridge daily activities in the primary setting. Montessori settings can be especially supportive of a natural daily flow for young children.

Shorts: Child Time and Child Space

1. The Bead Chain (7:25)
2. Clean Up, Set Up (5:20)

Delving Deeper Into Our Craft:
Child Time and Child Space

Schedule of the Day in the Casa
by Janet McDonell


Dr. Montessori advised extended work periods for first plane children in the Casa:

“These long hours are necessary, if we are to follow a directed line of action which shall be helpful to the growth of the child.”  (1912/1972 p.120)

Early in the year, it seems impossible that a group of young children can sustain their purposeful activity for three hours. However, experience shows that, indeed, they come to love and depend upon those long, uninterrupted mornings and afternoons. What are the conditions necessary to establish a responsive schedule of the day?...  READ MORE

LITERACY (24:18) 
Capturing ordinary days in Montessori environments….The natural development of a literate human being, able to express himself and communicate successfully with others, is at the root of authentic Montessori practice.

Challenging the Gaze: The Subject of Attention and A 1915 Montessori Demonstration Classroom
by Noah W. Sobe, Ph.D.

In his article “Challenging the Gaze: The Subject of Attention and a 1915 Montessori Demonstration Classroom,” Professor Noah W. Sobe puts the Montessori emphasis on attention and focus into a historical context…    READ MORE



In Her Words


This time we are drawing from the work of Dorothy Canfield Fisher, 1879-1978, who wrote extensively about Dr. Montessori’s work. In the following excerpt from her 1912 book, A Montessori Mother, she captures her early introduction to Dr. Montessori’s work.

In describing one of her visits to an early Casa, Fisher has a priceless account of a small child and a lunch napkin:

“The napkins were unfolded, the older children tucked them under their chins and began to eat their soup. The younger ones imitated them more or less handily, though with some the process meant quite a struggle with the napkin. One little boy, only one in all that company, could not manage his. After wrestling with it, he brought it to the teacher, who had dropped down on a chair near mine. So sure was I of what her action inevitably would be, that I fairly felt my own hands automatically follow hers in the familiar motions of tucking a napkin under a child’s round chin...”  READ MORE

AMI Standards
Click here to learn more about how you can design a Montessori program along AMI standards.