The Role of the Adults in the Montessori Environment


Not enough is said about the adults – in particular, the Guides and the Aides – in the Montessori classroom, and I wonder if there can ever be the right words to express the kind of commitment, intensive training, daily practice of patience and presence, and mindful dedication that this team tirelessly exhibits while working with our children. In accordance with AMI certification, Villa di Maria recently underwent an observation period (just for the Primary classrooms this time around) by AMI consultant Cathryn Kasper, who expressed her absolute delight at our school’s commitment to Montessori and our recent physical growth. Read more about what she had to say about the roles of the adults in the Montessori environment, below. 


Cathryn Kasper, AMI consultant, served as a Guide for 30 years, and has been a Montessori consultant for 12 years. She met with the VdM staff to share her knowledge and connection to her experience, and to impart some of her wisdom upon us all!


“If we want the ‘new child’ – the child of the future, the child who is yet to become – to appear, we need to do our own work, as adults,” Kasper relays. She encouraged a reflection among the adults: that the classroom staff ask themselves: Who am I while I am doing this work? What aspects of Montessori philosophy and practice help me maintain my role? 


The reflection itself illustrates the mindful headspace a Montessori Guide or Aide must inhabit during the classroom hours – a space that leaves every personal, subjective piece of herself (or himself) outside of the classroom to make space for the person who is the transformed adult. The transformed adult exhibits respect, trust, and an open heart. She is graceful in her movements, gracious with her words, and listens, and above all else, understands at the core of her being, that every child deserves to feel secure, loved, and heard.


Kasper relays, “The aim of our daily practice is to discover the child and effect his liberation.” This includes possessing the patience and wherewithal to recognize that change will happen when the conditions are there; we must trust that the child will transform when all the pieces are in place. Part of this, from the standpoint of the adult in the classroom, has to do with noticing: noticing when a child is in need of more, noticing when a child needs something different, noticing that if a child could do better, he would do better, and supporting him in his journey.


The Assistant to the Guide is sometimes overlooked, but she (or he) is the “safeguard,” the one who notices, the “glue that holds us all together… the oil that keeps the machine running,” shares Kasper. We are lucky here at Villa di Maria, that our Guides and Aides are effective communicators, and so graciously show their appreciation of and respect for one another on a regular basis. For that, we are all thankful!


Thank you, Cathryn Kasper, for your wonderful presentation.

And thank you to all the Guides and Aides here at Villa di Maria, for all of your hard work with our children. We are so grateful for you every day. We hope you enjoy some much-needed rest and relaxation over next week’s Thanksgiving break!