Montessori material presentation. Do I need it at home?

Many people that are new to montessori and only start to discover the method think that the most important part here are the materials, but it is not like that. Yes, materials are important but they are not on the first place. For example talking about peculiarities of Montessori education we here have the list of 6 points, and materials are only number 5. Not taking into the consideration other points imagine that we are having all the materials but without having a knowledge about where should they be situated and how should they be presented will Child learn something from them? What do you think? Here where the presentation of the material takes its place. Ok, if you think that it doesn't really matter and everyone can teach a Child if he only has the material without even knowing how to use it, ok, take the golden beads and teach me to sum. Ok,ok, let's take something easier, what about knobbed cylinders? It's is not that easy.

Maria Montessori compared presentation of the material to the gift that teacher presents to the Child. Let's think about it.
So basically what is the presentation in Montessori education? It is showing to the Child the proper way of using the material. In Montessori classroom every item has a special way of presenting it. And this is invented not to make the teacher's work harder, because imagine the quantity of montessori materials existing and montessori teacher should remember the way of presenting of every of them.

Let's have a look at some simple presentation in Practical Life area.

Spooning Presentation

Materials: 2 bowl, 1 spoon, small objects to transfer.

Be sure that the full bowl is on the left. The spoon should be situated between two bowls, this way we give a Child freedom to use it with either left or right hand. If we put spoon under the bowls aiming to the left we propose the Child to take it only with right hand.

Take a spoon and transfer some portion of the material to an empty bowl.

Continue slowly, spoon by spoon.

 Tranfer until the left bowl is empty. Return the spoon to its place.

So what is the presentation for? 

1. It is for the Child to learn and understand the material better. So presentation includes the guide to using the particular material divided into small steps one following the other. It is well structured. And it is easier for the the Child to understand how to use the material  when it is shown to him in well organisized manner.
2. There is such a thing in our brain that is called mirror neurons. These unique cells activates at the moment when we observe people and their actions. For example, when someone is drawing a line on a sheet of paper certain neurons are activated in his brain at that moment. When we observe this person mirror neurons activates same brain cells in our brain too. Also same muscles that helps us to draw begin to activate in our body, and we only observe how he is doing it! So with the help of mirror neurons we learn things while observing other people. When the Child sees the same thing again the connections are formed between these neurons. When the Child sees identical presentation the connections become thicker and the Child will remember this thing better in future. If we will not show the material in the same way the connections between mirror neurons will not be formed. That is why it is important for the presentation to be clear, and for the teacher to follow the presentation each time.
3. Imagine if there are several teachers working in the group and they are presenting the same material to the Child but in different ways. How can he understand what way of presenting is the right one? And how he should do it? The same thing is in the family when every member shows things to the Child differently. 
4. Dividing the whole work into small parts will help the Child in future to analize things better.

It is extremely important to think about the presentation with toddlers. They are new to this world, they don't know how things should work, and giving them presentation is showing them how to use things around them in a proper way. Of course it should not be like - "hey, come here I am going to present you how to use scissors", you can just take them and tell "these are scissors" and by your own example slowly show how to use them.

To my mind the whole home life consists of the series of presentations. Sometimes you can not even notice when you present the material to a Child. For example, Child observes how you water the flowers. You didn't mean to teach him, you just housekeeping but he is learning while looking how you do it day by day. And imagine how these friends of us mirror neurons are working when you are doing this in the same day everyday. 
Of course we are not robots and we can not act strictly in the same way every day. But I think every parent should now sit and think maybe the problem that my Child is not drinking from the glass because I haven't shown him how to do it properly? Maybe I should think about the ways I show my kid how the things work? What results can my Child achieve if I would follow this advices? Every parent should think about ways of helping his Child to be independent and happy and Montessori education in a big way that is a parent or teacher who are improving himself constantly.
Presentation of the work with golden material

The following are the rules of presentation that are extremely important for montessori teachers and I would try to make some points about every rule to use it in the home environment.

1.Make sure you know the work before presenting it.  Parent think about what do you want to teach your Child. Consider the process of showing him the way to use it. Divide the whole process into small steps.
2. Train to present the new work before presenting it to a kid. Think of your movements. Think of energy saving. Less necessary actions.
3. Suggest "Come with me I want to show you something interesting" or ask "Do you want me to show you something interesting?". Tell the general idea of what you are going to do or what do you want to show like "Today I want to show you the letter D with sandpaper letters".
4. Ask a Child to follow you to take material from the shelf or its place. This way the Child will know where the material is situated. Remember, that everything should have its place? This is important. 
5. Always give the name of the material. You can teach the child a new word using the three period lesson if he didn't met it before.
6. Present the work thoroughly, precisely and accurately. Don't hurry up. Though the work is not new for you, but the Child sees if for the first time.
7. Don't talk too much. Count your words. The concentration should be not on you or your words but on the activity.
8. Remember to always present any work moving from left to right and from top to the bottom. It indirectly prepares the Child for writing, because when we write we move like this.
9. The Child should sit by your left hand if you are right handed. In other words you should sit on the Child's dominant hand. If he will sit right from you your right hand will block his vision and he will not see the presentation. In proper way he can copy your movements easily also.
10. If Child is not paying attention, too distracted or making mistake you should stop. The material can wait. Present it next time.
11. If necessary let the Child to take part in the presentation, if he is ready for it. But if it is the very first showing of the materil you'd better show it to the end by your own. It will omit the Child's mistakes.
12. After presentation let the Child to try this material by himself.
13. Don't point at the Child's errors. It is difficult to make everything right when you have seen the work only one time. Can you copy the recipe you have seen on TV show without any inclinations when you have seen it one time only and haven't even made notes? And the Child coping not the ingredients only, but also movements, order and sequence. If you point to error it can ruin the whole thing and he can even never go back to this work.
14. Support the presentation with 3-period lesson if needed. It is important when you are showing things that are new for the kid.
15. Stay with the Child for some time, until he will feel himself confident.
16. Put the material back to its place. This teaches to put things back to their places and order in general. If parents or teacher doesn't put it back on the shelf why would I do this? Also we have a rule in a montessori classroom that if you take material from the shelf it is you who should place it back there. And teachers follow this rule too.
17. Encourage Child to use material in the future with the words like "I hope you will enjoy working with this material". I often can say thank you to a Child for listening and looking or for paying a lot of attention "Thank you I am very happy to show this material to you".
18. Smile and positive attitude are always welcome. Child will learn better if you are happy;)

Do you use a presentation at home? Teachers how long have you trained to show the specific material properly?


  1. What a great post! I have to admit that I am still a montessori 'newbie' and I love it more and more as I dig deeper into it. I always placed the spoon underneath the bowls (encouraging my son to take it with his right hand) as I had already noticed that he was using his right hand for other activities/tasks (eating, drawing, etc). I am now pretty curious to see whether placing the spoon in the middle will actually lead to a change or not, but either way, I'll definitely take your tips in this post to heart :)

  2. Growing Hearts MontessoriJuly 23, 2017 at 5:40 AM

    Exelent post!
    Such of wonderful information for parets and teschers, I love it! Thank you for sharing it.