How does Functional Education reflect Montessori learning?

Montessori and Waldorf learning are closely aligned through the younger years.  Each focuses on children learning with their heads, their hearts and their hands.

In Montessori learning, there are eight guiding principles to be mindful of and we work hard at Functional Education to incorporate these principles into our daily program of learning for the children.

  1. Movement and cognition
  2. Choice
  3. Interest
  4. Avoiding extrinsic rewards
  5. Learning from and with peers
  6. Learning in context
  7. Adult interactions
  8. Order in environment and mind

Movement and cognition

“Without movement there can not be any learning” Maria Montessori

In our classroom we use our hands and many materials to learn any and all concepts.  Children are encouraged to explore concepts through trial and error.  We also explore concepts such as counting, through a variety of movement and cognitive experiences.  Children can sing and dance number songs, we play our musical instruments and count the timing.  There are sand trays and chalk boards to practice forming our numbers on and counting beads, shells number boards to place amounts into.  The learning is first experienced through the hands and the senses and through movement before it becomes abstract and written down.


There are studies showing that learning and wellbeing is improved if people have a sense of control over their lives.

If you give the children choices over the materials they use, the colours they choose, the order they complete a task in then they have a sense of control over their learning and they take more ownership of their learning.


If people are interested in something they will learn better.  At Functional Education we often say we are like a 40 flavours ice cream shop.  There are many modules of learning over the course of the program and each one is carefully selected and designed to introduce a new area of learning with plenty of variety to help spark areas of interest for curious young minds.

Avoiding Extrinsic Rewards

If you have to give a reward to a child to learn (such as stickers or certificates) then the child learns to become motivated by what they are getting from you.  Rewards are not really necessary.  The children are naturally motivated to learn new and interesting things.  We want children to have self motivation towards their learning which is a skill to develop and carry on through life.

Learning from and with peers

Children learn well in a collaborative environment with mixed ages.  That is one of the greatest beauties of home schooling.  Younger children are able to observe older children or adults and they will try to imitate and follow what they do.  Older children are able to become leaders and mentor those that watch them carefully.  A really beautiful Teina/Tuakana relationship.

Learning in context

Learning needs to be meaningful.  What I mean by this is learning is not just looking at something in a book and copying it down.  If insects are being studied then the learning is full of nature walks, insect hunts, opportunities to hear and see insects.  Then learning can be transferred into the classroom in context.

Adult Interactions

If an adult interacts with a child in a loving and respectful way with careful language and clear instructions then positive outcomes are able to come forth with the child.

Order in environment and mind

Everything has a place and everything is in it’s place when not being used.  One item is out at a time and our full attention is on that experience.  When we have finished, we carefully place it away before taking out the next item.  This helps the children develop respect for their environment and it helps develop order to thinking in the mind.

These are a few of the ways at Functional Education that we embrace the Montessori style of learning.  There are others including; nature studies, music, cultural and scientific studies, natural materials, daily preparation of food and time spent on life skills such as cleaning and tidying.  Each practical skill is designed to enhance the learning experience of the child and help prepare them for life to come.  Children who contribute to an environment feel a deep sense of belonging in that environment.  They have a role to play and they are important in their contribution.

Being a home schooling family, you have the opportunity to not only incorporate these wonderful qualities into your child’s learning, but to extend it further into your household and embrace the wonderful sense of responsibility it can bring.

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