Intrinsic Motivation Lasts a Lifetime

Sunstone is not a place where children have to go to have information delivered to them; it is a place they look forward to going to because they are allowed to discover the world for themselves.


Combining three of the Constructive Triangle boxes, Abby discovered that two HUGE equilateral triangles form a parallelogram and the next day she transposed her discovery onto paper (above).

Well, she wasn’t ready to stop there. Over the course of the next week, Abby continued her exploration of Geometry producing a painted study of equilateral triangles. She then went on to identify and outline all of the different shapes she could find that can be made from combining or dissecting equilateral triangles. She learned the long and complex names of all the shapes, such as obtuse-angled isosceles triangle, parallelogram, and trapezoid, and she wrote and affixed identification labels (above) on her discovered shapes. She then went on to produce the largest parallelogram that she could by assembling hand-traced, hand-cut, equilateral triangles (below).

No one told Abby to do this. The desire to dive deep came from within. Imagine the level of understanding that Abby has gained from engaging the materials, exploring ideas, manipulating concepts, and discovering all of this on her own vs. being told the information by an adult. Intrinsic motivation! There is no substitute for life-long learning!

We are often amazed at the capabilities of Montessori children. They bounce to school each morning excited about what the day holds. They want to learn, want to discover, want to pursue more without being told they must. What is the secret? The key lies in the type of motivation utilized in Montessori education.

In most traditional education settings, teachers use systems of rewards and punishments to drive desired behaviors. These are extrinsic motivators, meaning they come from outside of the child and are imposed upon them, typically by an adult, to motivate or control a certain behavior.

Extrinsic motivation can be verbal or non-verbal. Any time an adult makes a statement to a child, or even uses a facial expression that conveys pleasure or displeasure with a behavior or action, they are utilizing external motivation. This includes commonly heard praise such as “Good Job!” and “Nice work!”

Non-verbal rewards include positive external motivations such as gold stars or good grades. Conversely, non-verbal punishments include negative external motivators such as the removal of privileges or bad grades.

While external rewards and punishments may work occasionally in the short term, research shows that they do little for long-term motivation or success and that intrinsic motivation is much more effective.

Intrinsic motivation doesn’t come from an outside source at all, but from within the individual. It is not something that adults can impose upon children, but it can be cultivated and nurtured.


The photographic print of the Lupine Room (above) is the result of one child’s intrinsic motivation. Wesley, in the Lupine Room, was allowed to follow his curiosity sparked in researching cameras. Supported by the Lupine Room Guide and Assistant, Wesley led himself down the creative path of producing photographs using working pinhole cameras. In the process, Wesley learned about silver emulsions and the different chemicals it takes to develop photographic paper. He experimented with lighting and exposure times and was very surprised to learn that the pinhole camera would not capture moving people, it only captured what was stationary during a 3 hour exposure time. The photo above was taken during class time and yet you can’t see any people. They were there, they just weren’t sitting still for 3 hours.

Children are born with a natural curiosity. They are internally motivated to learn, discover, adapt, and grow. Our job as Montessori educators is to honor these natural tendencies in every child and nurture their internal motivation.

We do this by providing beautiful environments full of enriching materials that speak directly to the developmental needs of the children and serve as an independent motivation.

We use materials that are typically autodidactic, meaning the learner is able to self-correct their work while they are in the process of completing it. These built-in corrections allow the child to work and learn directly from the materials without teacher input, essentially furthering the child’s independence and internal motivation.

Montessori guides are adept at utilizing children’s interests to help them succeed in areas that challenge them. A child who is reluctant to read but loves dinosaurs may just need a basket of books about dinosaurs. A child who resists math but adores their friends may need to work cooperatively to find success. Knowing what sparks a child’s enthusiasm is the key to opening a whole world of academic content.

There are structures built into the Montessori day that support intrinsic motivation as well. The three-hour uninterrupted work cycle is one, as is allowing for ample student choice. These strategies allow children to select work that is meaningful to them, and to spend time really getting deep into that work.

Meaningful work is key! When something is of interest to you, you don’t need to be told to learn it, you want to learn it. This is internal motivation and it typically takes children farther than a teacher ever could.

In the Montessori classroom, we allow students to fully explore their interests, which is where real creativity and lasting learning take place. Children feel empowered by their independence and accomplishments. This fuels their sense of confidence which in itself drives them to explore deeper learning all on their own. It’s a beautiful and powerful cycle. And one they will carry with them throughout the rest of their lives!

Sunstone is not a place where children have to go and have information delivered to them; it is a place they look forward to going to because they are allowed to discover the world for themselves.

More Than Meets the Eye

This student (above) looks like she is playing with a variety of triangles of different shapes, sizes, and colors which she is, but that is not all that is she is doing. She is building a strong foundation in Geometry and higher mathematics.

She is working with the Constructive Triangles, of which there are five different boxes, each containing triangles of different sizes, shapes, and colors. The boxes are presented one at a time in a series with the purpose of demonstrating that all plane geometric figures can be constructed from triangles.

In working with these boxes children discover that new shapes and figures, such as rectangles, parallelograms, rhombi, trapezoids, and hexagons, can all be formed using only triangles.

Working with the constructive triangles is an exploration in shape, relative arrangement of the parts, and relationships of points and lines. The Constructive Triangles provide a foundation for Geometry.

Later, in the Elementary years, the Constructive Triangles can be used to demonstrate the Pythagorean Theorem as a bridge to introducing the Theorem of Pythagoras material (below) and working with a squared + b squared = c squared.

Raising Emotionally Resilient Children

The crux of good mental/emotional health is a quality known as “emotional resilience” – the ability to withstand and keep moving forward, chin up, in the face of disappointment, deprivation, prolonged frustration, crisis, setback, loss, and failure.

We want our children to become adults who can handle everything life has to offer—the good, the bad, and the ugly. We want to raise human beings who are capable of overcoming life’s challenges (even the really hard ones) with grace, dignity, fortitude, and resolve. We want our children to become strong, healthy, emotionally resilient adults.

The best way for children to become emotionally resilient adults is for them to become emotionally resilient children and the only way for them to do this is with practice—practice feeling uncomfortable emotions, practice accepting uncomfortable emotions, and practice moving through them to a place of resolve. As parents, it is our job to allow them to practice.
It can be painful to watch our children experience any kind of discomfort, emotional or otherwise, and so we often try to shelter them from such adverse feelings. We coddle, pamper, indulge and cocoon our children to prevent them from feeling anything “bad” or “sad.”

The irony is, when we prevent our children from feeling bad, we are denying them practice with uncomfortable feelings, which in turn deprives them of a chance at developing strong emotional resiliency.

The truth is that children are much more capable than they are typically given credit for.

Children are able to handle hard emotions, and with our support, the more they practice the easier it gets. When children are given the chance to practice, to experience for themselves the things that are hard or uncomfortable they develop the ability to feel uncomfortable emotions without falling to pieces:

  • they develop the strength necessary to accept uncomfortable emotions and
  • they develop the courage to move through them

Try This:

The next time your child is feeling bad, try not to fix it and make them feel better. Instead, just be there in empathy, maintain your connection, and model how to accept hard feelings.

It can help to give language to the feeling and situation by describing what you see, “When I told you it was time to leave the park and go home, I noticed you got really upset and angry. It looks like you would rather stay here and play then go home right now. It can be really hard to stop doing something that you love to do, especially when you are not ready to stop. It’s OK to feel upset and angry. It’s not OK to yell at me, or anyone else because of it. If we had more time I would love to stay and play. I know it can be really hard to leave, but right now it is time to go home and make a delicious dinner. We will come to the park again soon.”

Preparation of the Mathematical Mind Starts Young

Children in the primary classrooms (ages 3-6) don’t know they are learning the foundations of multiplication, squaring, and cubing when they count the math chains. They do know that the math chains are aesthetically inviting, displayed in graduated rows with order and beautiful colors. They do know that working with the chains and counting them is fun work!

What the children don’t consciously know, however, is that these chains, like many materials in the Children’s House, are scientifically designed specifically for their age group, to lay a strong foundation and prepare their minds for more complex mathematical concepts later on.

The beauty and success of these Montessori materials lie in the way the materials are designed to be used. When counting the math chains, for example, the children don’t just start with numeral one and continue counting until they are done. There is a simultaneous process of counting AND labeling in a very specific way that reveals patterns and lays the foundation for multiplication, squaring, and cubing.

Math in Montessori

For example, the child above is counting the long six chain in a primary classroom (ages 3-6). The long six chain represents six cubed in linear form (6x6x6=216). This chain literally has 216 unit beads on it in groups of six.

When counting the chain, every bead is counted and every sixth bead is labeled (6, 12, 18…). This creates a visual pattern and subconsciously lays the foundation for the multiplication table of six. Repeated use of the chains helps to solidify the pattern in the brain.

Similarly, while counting, every thirty-sixth bead (6×6) is labeled with a wider label (36, 72, 108…). Additionally, the square of six in bead form (literally 36 beads laid out in a 6×6 square) is placed above the chain at these points. This square of six visually represents the 36 beads on the chain between this wide label and square and the previous wide label and square. This numeric pattern and concrete visual lays the foundation for squaring.

At the very end of the long six chain the 216th bead is labeled with the widest label of all. Then all six squares of six along the top of the chain are stacked on top of each other to create six cubed (literally, a cube of 216 beads made from stacking six squares of six, each with 36 beads). The linear chain is transposed into a cube and the foundation for cubing is laid.

7 Ways to Encourage Independence

You probably know that encouraging independence is a hallmark of Montessori education and parenting. The best way to teach our children to do things for themselves is to create supportive structures so that they can gradually depend on us less and less. You may be wondering exactly how to do this, and we are here to help! Try these seven handy tips to get started:

1. Allow your child to dress themselves.
As soon as they are ready, young children should physically dress themselves, even if it means allowing extra time for them to do so. Even toddlers can begin making choices in regards to their clothing. Start simple with your littlest ones. For example, you might ask if they would rather wear their yellow shirt or their pink shirt. Another option might be setting out five outfits for the school week and letting them pick which one they will wear on any particular morning. As children get older, it’s okay to give them general guidelines before stepping back and admiring their unique self-expression. You may let them know that pants are a must on a cold day, but be sure to respect their desire to pair zebra-print leggings with a plaid dress. Enjoy those adorable moments while allowing them to feel empowered by their own decision-making.


2. Teach your child skills they show interest in.
Does your child like to watch as you fix the fence and build shelves? Figure out a simple woodworking project you could do together, and let them learn how to measure, saw, and hammer nails. The same idea goes for crafts like knitting and sewing, outdoor activities like hiking and geocaching, electronics repair and computer programming, sports, and just about any other activity you can imagine. Their first interests will likely be based on what they observe at home, but eventually they will branch out and want to try learning more skills. As adults all we need to do is shed our preconceived notions of what young children are capable of; we are often surprised when they achieve much more than we expected!

3. Let them care for a living thing.
The simplest way to do this is to purchase a small, low-maintenance plant. Keep it on a sunny windowsill and teach your child how to water it. Some Montessori teachers use a clothespin method; whenever the plant needs watering, the adult places a clothespin on the rim of the pot as a signal to the child that they should water it. As kids get older, we can teach them to feel the soil itself for dryness.

Already have a pet at home? Find age-appropriate ways for your child to help out. They might assist with brushing, feeding, watering, or walking, depending on their age and the particular pet.

4. Include them in household chores.
All children, even toddlers, should help out around the house. This may actually make our jobs a little more challenging in the beginning, but the payoff will be well worth it. Start with something simple, like teaching your two-year-old to fold washcloths. Before you know it, your eight-year-old will be loading the dishwasher and your twelve-year-old will be mowing the lawn. Participating in family chores gives children a sense of purpose in their (home) community. If they start young, the concept of chores is not boring or tedious, it’s a meaningful way to contribute “like a grownup”.

5. Give them opportunities in the kitchen.
Making dinner? Baking for a holiday? Packing lunches for tomorrow? Get your kids involved. If they have already been attending a Montessori school, they may surprise you with their spreading, cutting, and mixing skills, as these are taught and practiced regularly in primary classrooms.

The act of preparing food for our families is an act of love. Teaching children how to do this not only gives them skills they will need to be self-sufficient one day but allows them to help give to their family members. The benefits are endless:
● Kids who cook learn a variety of math skills.
● A child is more likely to try new foods if they have helped prepare them.
● Cooking something challenging will impart a sense of pride and self-confidence.
● Cooking together is quality time spent together.
● Regular time in the kitchen may create happy memories.

6. Encourage bodily autonomy.
One critical and powerful mantra to repeat to your child early and often: “You are in charge of your body.” This means we don’t force them to hug their grandparents or accept kisses from a pushy aunt. This even means if they don’t feel like cuddling with us, their parents, they don’t have to.

Having the power of decision over one’s own body is an important lesson to teach, and extends to others as well. We teach our children that while they get to make their own bodily choices, everyone else does as well. A good time to bring this up is when they are perhaps playing too rough and you need a break. You can say, “I don’t want you to wrestle me right now, and it’s my body so I get to choose.”

7. Offer desirable choices.
This is where the all-important concept of freedom within limits comes in. Montessori, and giving children choice, doesn’t mean that children get to make all the decisions. It just means that we provide our children with a range of desirable options they get to pick from. Some examples:

● You need to get dressed and brush your teeth. Which would you like to do first?
● Would you like strawberry or grape jelly on your sandwich?
● Your room needs to be cleaned today. Would you like to start before or after lunch?
● Do you want to walk or skip to the car?

By giving choices within parameters, you can increase the chances of success for both you and your child. This gives kids safe boundaries within which they can practice doing things for themselves.

We hope this post has been helpful! If you have any questions or would like to observe how independence is encouraged in our classrooms, please schedule a tour today.

Staying the Course: Montessori and the Kindergarten Year


Parents whose children are in their second year of a primary classroom are faced with a big decision: should their child remain at their Montessori school for the final year of the cycle or attend kindergarten at their local public school?

We understand how tough this decision can be.  Many parents ponder the cost of private kindergarten when there is a free option available.  Other families talk about the fact that their child won’t be able to stay in Montessori forever, so why not switch now?  Then again, the thought of leaving their Montessori school is difficult, because they know there is something different and special about this style of education.

Learning for Mastery

Montessori schools are intentionally structured utilizing a three-year cycle.  There are many great benefits to this, but one of them is to provide third year students with opportunities that they will not have in other environments.

Having spent the previous two years learning a multitude of skills in their classroom, the third year is about mastery.  The Montessori curriculum is a series of carefully developed lessons and materials that are meant to cycle back to a culminating experience during the final year.

All that time spend grasping knobbed cylinders, tracing metal insets, and practicing sandpaper letter formation?  The kindergartner uses all that knowledge as they begin to write with paper and pencil.

The years of early mathematical preparation?  Now they get to use the golden beads (or perhaps the stamp game material) to learn to add and subtract numbers into the thousands (yes, as kindergartners!).

Montessori’s early focus on teaching children sounds in lieu of letter names leads many children to begin reading by the time they are in kindergarten.

Children as Independent Leaders

Not only do guides observe children mastering these skills independently, but the children have the chance to teach to others.  Educators across many settings will agree that once the student becomes the teacher, we can surmise that true mastery has been attained.

So while your kindergarten child is teaching younger children how to do something, they are showing us just how well they know how to do it.  Not only that – they are gaining confidence in a truly authentic way.  No one needs to tell the child how well they are doing because they feel it themselves.

When children teach children, it’s not just about knowledge being shared, but also about cultivating world citizens.  Teaching each other is an act of kindness, and a way for children to practice helping others around them.

Fueling the Spark

In Montessori classrooms one of our greatest tasks is to keep the fire burning inside children’s minds.  We structure our work so that children may follow their passions and learn deeply about things that matter to them.  We see each child as an individual and think one-size-fits-all educational approaches tend to extinguish the joy of learning.

Instead of drilling facts into children, we place materials before them so that they may discover the truths of the world themselves.  Rather than asking them all to do the same thing at the same time, we value their choices and trust their educational process.  It is the guide’s job to keep them on track, but they offer children the freedom that lets them deeply explore the learning that calls to their souls.

Five Key Differences Between Montessori and Conventional Education

Conventional Montessori
Frequent and standardized testing starting at a young age. Teachers assess through careful observation and record-keeping.
Assigned seating, often at desks arranged in rows or small groups. Flexible, child-chosen seating, with options for individuals and groups, using both tables and the floor.
Use of external rewards, including praise, sticker charts, prizes, and grades. Reliance on internal motivation, or the belief that the joy of the work itself is all the motivation the child needs.  Offering beautiful, compelling materials will draw the child’s attention without the need for unrelated rewards.
The teacher is the head of the classroom. The children are the main focus of the classroom.  The guide delivers lessons unobtrusively and stands aside when the child is able to learn independently.
Main goal is to deliver a standards-based curriculum. Main goal is to cultivate curious and empathetic world citizens and lifelong learners.


Montessori Basics: The Planes of Development

Maria Montessori based her entire educational philosophy on the idea that children developed through a series of four planes.  Each of these planes is easy to recognize and has clear, defining characteristics.  If we study and understand these stages, we can approach our interactions with children with a new perspective.

Learning about the planes of development isn’t just for Montessori educators.  Understanding your child’s development can help at home, too.

The First Plane: birth-6 years

During this stage children absorb everything like sponges.  They are, indeed, excellent examples if what Montessori called ‘The Absorbent Mind.’  This is a time in which we are able to utilize what Montessori called sensitive periods of learning.  While each child is different, there are typical patterns that emerge in regards to brain development and general readiness to learn particular skills.

During the first three years of this plane, all learning is done outside of the child’s conscious mind.  They learn by exploring their senses and interacting with their environment.  During the second half of the plane, from about 3-6 years, children enter the conscious stage of learning.  They learn by using their hands, and specialized materials in the Montessori classroom were developed with this consideration.

During this time, children have a wonderful sense of order.  They are methodical and can appreciate the many steps involved in practical life lessons in their classrooms.  The organization of the works on their classroom shelves is intentional, which appeals again to this sense of order.

The first plane is a time in which children proclaim, “I can do it myself”; it is a time of physical independence.

The Second Plane: 6-12 years

During the elementary years children begin to look outside themselves.  They suddenly develop a strong desire to form peer groups.  Previously, during the first plane, a child would be content to focus on their own work while sitting near others.  In the second plane, a child is compelled to actually work with their friends.  It is during this time that children are ready to learn about collaboration.

During the second plane there is a sudden and marked period of physical growth.  This may be a contributing factor to the observation that many children of this age seem to lack an awareness of their body, often bumping into things and knocking things over.  Children begin to lose their teeth around this time as well.  Their sense of order and neatness tend to fade a bit during this plane.

Throughout the second plane, children’s imaginations are ignited.  Since Montessori education is based in reality, we find ways to deliver real information to children through storytelling and other similar methods.  For example, when teaching children about the beginnings of our universe, Montessori schools use what is called a Great Lesson.  The first Great Lesson is a dramatic story, told to children with the use of props, experiments, and dramatics (think: a black balloon filled with glitter is popped to illustrate the Big Bang, with bits of paper in a dish of water used while talking about particles gathering together).  This lesson is fascinating for children in the way it is presented, but gives them basic information about the solar system, states of matter, and other important concepts.

Children in the second plane have a voracious appetite for information, and are often drawn strongly to what we in Montessori call the cultural subjects: science, history, and geography.  While we support their rapid language and mathematical growth during this time, we are also responsible for providing them with a variety of rich cultural lessons and experiences.

It is important to note that children develop a sense of moral justice at this time.  They are very concerned with what is fair, and creating the rules to a new game is often as important (if not more so) than playing the actual game itself.

This is the period of time in which children are striving for intellectual independence.

The Third Plane: 12-18

The third plane of development encompasses the adolescent years.  During the second plane, children become aware of social connections, but in the third plane they are critical.  During this time children rely heavily on their relationships with their peers.  They feel a strong desire to remain independent from adults, although they are not quite ready to do this entirely.  It is our job to find ways that allow them to experiment with independence while also providing a safe structure in which they may do so.

Children in the third plane tend to require more sleep, and they sleep later than when they were younger.  They long for authentic learning experiences, and Dr. Montessori imagined just that.  Her ideas of Erdkinder (children of the earth) led her to contemplate a school setting that would support children’s development during this time.  She imagined a farm school, in which children would work to keep the farm operational, but also contribute to planning and decision making while doing so.

During the third plane children are refining their moral compass while developing a stronger sense of responsibility.

The Fourth Plane: 18-24

The final plane is a time in which young adults are striving for financial independence.  They are often living away from home for the first time, and use this time to figure out where they fit into their society.  Many make choices to further their education and/or explore career paths.

It is during the fourth plane that people begin to develop a truer sense of who they are as individuals.

Each plane of development should be mindfully nurtured.  If a child is able to experience one developmental phase in a rich and carefully prepared environment, they are ready to fully take on the next phase when it is time.



The Top 7 Benefits of Self-Directed Play!

Perhaps you’ve heard about self-directed play, also known as open-ended play. The concept is nothing new and has, in fact, existed as long as children have been playing. It is the ‘original’ style of play its benefits remain timeless.

Self-directed play embraces many Montessori ideals and helps your child develop crucial skills to succeed in school and life every time that he plays.

Once you understand the reasons for encouraging children to engage in self-directed play and you have a basic understanding of how it works, putting it into practice at home is simple!

What, exactly, is self-directed play?

If your child is using simple toys in creative ways with no adult-directed outcome, there’s a good chance they’re already engaging in self-directed play.

Many of the toys available today are intended for a specific purpose. Let’s consider, for example, a doll.  Sure, a child can embark on some imaginative play with it, but a doll will always be a doll.  The same goes for a small toy train or a plastic dinosaur.  This is not to say there is anything wrong with these toys, but the ways in which children can use them are limited by their nature.

Now let’s consider a cardboard tube.  The possibilities are endless!  The tube could be a telescope one minute and a megaphone the next.  It could be a log, a bridge, or something to guide a ball through.  Materials we offer children for self-directed play are simple.  Think balls, cardboard tubes, sticks, scarves, playdough…the list goes on.

When children embark on self-directed play, it’s important for adults to remember that the children are the ones calling the shots (within safe boundaries, of course!).  It’s our natural tendency to have pre-determined ideas of what the outcome of a certain activity should be.  We often, instinctively, feel the need to jump in and teach children the “right way” to do things.  Give yourself permission to step back.  When we observe the the way in which children discover their own outcomes, it can be magical to see the process from a new viewpoint.

How does self-directed play embrace Montessori ideals and benefit children?

  • It builds self confidence. By exploring on their own, children realize there is so much they can do for themselves. They make their own games with their own rules, and they feel successful.
  • It encourages independence. Isn’t our ultimate goal for children that they might be able to get along just fine without us? Self-directed play lets them experience independence from a young age, all while in a safe, prepared environment.
  • It stimulates imagination. Children can’t help but be creative during self-directed play. By giving them these opportunities, we are allowing them to flex their creative muscles; they will see possibilities no one else has imagined, and they will develop their own story lines as they play.
  • It teaches problem-solving. Coming up with one’s own rules naturally leads to problem solving. Children will have to figure out how to make something work the way they want it to.
  • It allows children to learn at their own pace. With self-directed play, there is no timeline and there are no benchmarks to meet. Kids have the opportunity to build on their own knowledge, day after day, in ways that make sense to them.
  • It cultivates internal motivation. Without adults defining the success of an activity, children will be compelled to find the innate joy in their play. They will naturally tend to challenge themselves to try new, innovating ideas, and they will find their own personal delight in doing so.
  • It develops social and communication skills. Children who engage in self-directed play with peers must interact with each other and in doing so learn a vast array of social negotiation skills like fairness, turn-taking, co-operation, understanding social rules, seeing and incorporating other points of views, a sense of ‘give and take’, patience, perseverance, and a sense of belonging.

Getting started at home

Consider these tips to encourage self-directed play in your home:

Materials/Toys should be simple.  As an added benefit, simple toys tend to be much easier to obtain and far less expensive (and often free!).  If possible, toys should be made of natural materials.  Think wood, fabric, and items found in nature; avoid plastic if possible.  As mentioned above, collect toys that can be used for any number of possibilities.  Things like balls, scarves, blocks, boxes, sticks, or clay are great.  Some people like to collect trays of loose parts to leave out for children.  Loose parts trays might include pebbles, seashells, buttons, bits of string, pieces of tree bark…whatever looks (and feels) interesting!

Prepare the Environment Make sure children have a safe, open space in which to play.  Depending on your home and the weather, this could be your living room, backyard, or whatever space works for your family.  It’s important to make sure children have flexibility in their movement though, so make sure they can sit, stand, jump, roll, and explore!

Sit Back and Enjoy! Another great benefit to self-directed play is that because children can engage on their own, you are free to spend time checking off your own to-do list.  But feel free to sit nearby or even alongside your child if you wish.  Just remember to let them take the lead and explore their world and imagination.

See It in Action

The very best way to learn about Sunstone Montessori is to see it in action. We encourage you to visit our beautiful and spacious campus, take a tour, observe briefly in classrooms, learn about Montessori education, our programs, who we are, and what we do. Time is set aside at the end for questions and answers.

We look forward to sharing Sunstone with you!

Schedule a Tour




The 6 Reasons Montessori Will Work For Your Child

Perhaps you have a friend with a child in a Montessori program. Maybe you have heard about Montessori at a local playgroup. Or maybe you just stumbled across it online.

It all sounds great in theory, doesn’t it? An environment that fosters a deep love for learning; teachers trained to meet the needs of each individual child; a classroom community that provides an opportunity for all children to develop independence.

But, in the back of your head, a nagging question remains: “Will Montessori really work for my child?”

You Are Not Alone

It’s a common question that most parents ask when researching Montessori education.

The reality is that most of us never had an opportunity to attend an authentic Montessori when we were young. Many of the experiences in a Montessori classroom are the complete opposite our own experiences in school. So, it’s completely understandable to question the efficacy of something so new for your own child!

There are an infinite number of reasons why Montessori will work for your child. But, let’s talk about 6 significant reasons why your child will thrive in a quality Montessori program:

1. Your Child Will Learn by Doing

Your child will be exposed to hundreds of materials that are specifically designed to support his natural stages of development and invite him with hands-on exploration. His individual interests will drive what he chooses to explore creating deep engagement, a love of learning, and strong neural pathways that contribute to the construction of a strong brain.

2. Your Child Will Learn From and Teach Others

Have you ever heard the expression “The best way to learn something is to teach it?” This happens every day in our Montessori classrooms. Children are grouped in three-year age spans, providing ample opportunity for mentorship, cooperation, and confidence building.

Younger children observe older children working with “Bead Bar Multiplication” or writing a story. They look up to and admire these older children who are doing all these incredible things: they want to emulate them and are motivated to learn to be just like them.

3. The Curriculum Adapts to Your Child

Most conventional early childhood programs assume that all children, born within a year of each other, are capable of learning and doing the same thing at the same time. As we all know, that simply isn’t true! When we teach to the whole class, rather than the individual child, many bright children are bored, and others, who need more time to learn, are left behind.

We recognize that your child has his own unique timetable for development and will learn different parts of the curriculum when he is ready.  We teach to the individual needs of your child, not to the entire class or to a group of children.

4. Beautiful Classrooms Inspire Your Child to Learn

Our Montessori classrooms are beautiful and inviting. Materials are laid out on open shelves and call out to your child “Come touch me! Come explore!” Everything in the environment is carefully and specifically selected to support your child’s developing independence and help him gain confidence in himself and his abilities.

5. The Teacher Really Knows Your Child

“Follow the child” is the mantra uttered by all well-trained Montessori teachers. They are trained to observe and to support each individual child. They take the time to get to know your child’s strengths, challenges and interests. They plan lessons for your child based on their observations of him.

Your child will be a member of the same classroom community for three years, which affords the teacher the opportunity to know him deeply, and tailor his education specifically for him. He will feel seen, heard, and appreciated for who he is.

6. Your Child Will Be in Good Company

Many of the most successful and creative people in our modern society are former Montessori students.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin (cofounders of Google)

Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon)

Katherine Graham (Ex-owner of The Washington Post)

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Sean “P. Diddy” Combs

Prince William and Prince Harry

Berry Brazelton (pediatrician and author)

Julia Child

William Wright (creator of “The Sims”)

Anne Hathaway

Chelsea Clinton

Beyoncé Knowles

Peter Drucker (business guru and lecturer)

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Nobel Prize-winning novelist)




How Research Is Proving that Montessori Works

Many parents choose Montessori for their kids because they appreciate how the approach respects their children as people and as learners. We love how the structure, materials, and lessons appeal to the developmental nature of our children. But how does it affect children in the long-term?

Recent research provides irrefutable evidence that the Montessori method of education is powerfully effective in educating children.

When children are developmentally ready and when they get to choose materials that match their individual timetable of development, their learning takes off. They become enthusiastic, confident, joyful learners!

Plenty of people are noticing the positive effects of a Montessori education and researchers are paying closer attention in recent years. For anyone who has been involved with the philosophy for any length of time, the results are not surprising. If you are interested in reading more about current research findings, check out this website: