At the Montessori school, we give free rein to the impulses of the children, and we just

In Montessori pedagogy, the child is invited to follow his impulses, because yes! They are “naturally” learners. The adult accompanies him on this path in complete confidence, in an atmosphere where mutual aid is rich in lessons. To learn more, head to the Montessori school in Carcassonne, where a call to order never rings. No need…

Noon, it’s time for the midday break, at the Montessori school of Carcassonne as in many others. But here, no shrill ringing that attacks the eardrums. A child brings the gongs out of a Tibetan bowl, accompanies them with a quiet message: “it’s time to tidy up”. His comrades rush into action. In muffled steps, and not just because they have – like adults – slippers on their feet. They obey rules that they themselves have enacted. They are displayed, for the record, on the classroom walls. “Move calmly” is one of those commandments thought up by children. While they are tidying up the class, Camille Rossignol-Schott, “the educator”, stays behind: no need for another call to order. “The group is self-disciplining, she says. The first year, adults will set the frame to help maintain calm. But here, we are in the fourth year, and we see that we hardly need to intervene anymore”.

They “are more receptive to humor than to a sermon”

You don’t string pearls: you learn multiplication, without having to memorize tables.
Independent – BOYER Claude

Here is illustrated one of the principles of Montessori pedagogy: to bring the child to bring out the best in himself, by himself. Give it free rein, with confidence. “To manage discipline, we don’t have the National Education systems: the good points, the behavior belts, the contracts… We don’t need them, adds the young woman, ex-school teacher in the so-called classic system. Discipline comes from the self-regulating group. Children will internalize the rules they have constructed themselves. As they grow up, they also naturally realize that if they don’t tidy up, if they make too much noise, they will penalize themselves: they will no longer have room to work, they will have a headache… ”

We are not at Care Bears for all that. The Montessori educator occasionally intervenes to put a dazed person back on the right track: “But never in the negative form. We don’t say: don’t run in the classroom. It wouldn’t be relevant. We rather ask: do you remember how we move?. Sometimes the adults also play small theatrical scenes, “to interpret an inappropriate event that happened in the classroom”. The children replay them, correcting them. “We are going to do these sketches in a funny way. The grown-ups, in particular, are much more receptive to humor than to a sermon”.

Not classes but “ambiences”

"Through small games, teach the child to integrate" a notion. Here, the calculation.

“Through small games, teach the child to integrate” a concept. Here, the calculation.
Independent – BOYER Claude

In the class, the elders can also have a role of “mediator” with the younger ones. They prefer the “don’t do this, don’t do that” of the average adult. Another specificity of the Montessori system, which challenges a priori: we are not talking about class, but about atmosphere. The children are grouped by age group, according to the “development plans” observed by Maria: 0-6 years old, 6-12 years old, and beyond. “The psychological characteristics, and even the physical ones, of the children change according to the shots. Each one lasts about six years, although not everything changes after six years, of course! It depends on the kids summarizes Camille, who dwells on the second time: physically the children are stronger, sick less often. They are more resistant to pain. Psychologically, they will be able to go very far in the imagination, to make the difference between fiction and reality, which the children under 6 have more difficulty doing”.

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Camille, “Montessori educator”: “offering keys to the child so that he grows up by himself”

The educator never ceases to explore the subject, never tires of it: at the EcolAude Montessori, she is responsible for the “atmosphere” of the 6-12 year olds, ie a total of 25 children. Beyond the corridor, another class accommodates 3 to 6 year olds, namely 20 toddlers. “We can welcome children under 3 years old, if they are ready”, specifies Amandine Herlant, the director since the start of the school year – the sixth for the Carcassonne structure – of a school which is now somewhat cramped


Amandine Herlant, director of EcolAude Montessori since the start of the school year.
Amandine Herlant, director of EcolAude Montessori since the start of the school year.

Independent – BOYER Claude

“We give them the time they need” The fault in particular of the well-filled shelves, where baking soda and vinegar rub shoulders with the elements of the famous – and expensive, let’s say it – Montessori material: globes, presentation trays, cards, puzzles, games, carpets, beads, flags , letters… and we forget some.“After the presentation, this material will make it possible to carry out experiments, demonstrations, in order to illustrate a concept and create an impression in the child, so that he can fully understand the notions that we are working on” , details Camille. We do not compromise on the guideline:

“Montessori pedagogy follows the children very closely, one by one. We know exactly where everyone is. We adapt according to its evolution”. "Montessori materials."It will allow experiments, demonstrations, which will illustrate a concept and create an impression in the child

Montessori materials. “It will allow experiments, demonstrations, which will illustrate a concept and create an impression in the child”.

Independent – BOYER Claude But then, it’s up to him to explore what he wants, when, and with whom. The pace of the young learner is respected. Thus, at the Montessori school, there is no question of whistling the hour of recess.“So as not to cut the peaks of concentration. It has been proven that, in children, it generally occurs around 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., i.e. at the same time as recess” asks the director Amandine. “Sometimes the children engage in a very long work, which can be tedious, which requires a lot of energy,notes the educator Camille

. They have the possibility of stopping when they wish, of going to rest a little, to take a small snack. We give them the time they need. We don't interrupt it with an imposed recess, because if the child is in full concentration, he will have a lot of difficulty coming back to it afterwards”. "The child can engage in work"which requires a lot of energy

. He can stop whenever he wants.
The child can engage in work “which requires a lot of energy”. He can stop whenever he wants.

Independent – BOYER Claude

Age difference ? A false problem that is erased Another natural impetus is accompanied, freed from certain shackles: within the “ambiences”, young and old mix to work in small groups. Illustration in the class of 6-12 year olds: in a corner, three children are busy around a puzzle. Together they reconstitute the States of America. In the “classic” system, they would not have the possibility. “One would be in CP, the other in CE2 and the last in CM1”, reveals Camille, who erases a false problem:

“An 11-year-old child can have a similar interest with an 8-year-old, so they will get together to work on a project”.

The children work in small groups, and the age difference is erased.
The children work in small groups, and the age difference is erased.

Independent – BOYER Claude And everyone finds his account in this addition.

“The mix of ages and skills means that the children help each other. When a six-year-old sees what the big guys are doing, it makes him want to get there. This motivates him, pushes him to go further. A grown-up who has acquired a skill, who has taken time and who is proud of it, will go and help a younger one who is struggling with it. He will redo all mental patterns. This is a great review! And also enormous in terms of self-esteem. Very rewarding. The child becomes more autonomous, responsible. This gives him a posture that he would not necessarily have in a single-level class where all the students are the same age”. “A living Montessori class is very lively. It’s a class that discusses, where projects are done together, where we create together. It is a kind of anthill”,

rejoices Camille, in summary. It’s noon, the Tibetan bowl has sounded: it’s time to tidy up, quietly…

The Ecol’Aude Montessori, which occupies a building belonging to the town hall of Carcassonne in the hamlet of Maquens, is looking for more spacious premises. The call is launched. 1 Rue Raoul Dufy, 11000 Carcassonne. 06 09 73 40 16. Email: Website: Access to Montessori pedagogy: a problem to be solvedMain problem of Montessori schools: like other “non-contract” establishments – private, what! – they are not within reach of all budgets. The EcolAude Montessori in Carcassonne thus costs 310 euros per month.

“But we didn’t want to address only so-called rich families. We wanted to put an end to received ideas, according to which Montessori pedagogy would be expensive and elitist”

, explains Amandine Herlant, the director. In Carcassonne, volunteer families can thus save 90 euros per month in exchange for 10 hours per month spent by parents at school (the system is smoothed over the year). They can help the AMI Montessori qualified educators and their assistants during meals (there is no canteen, the children bring their lunch boxes), or lend a hand at daycare. It is also possible to be a guide on outings. The Montessori school of Carcassonne is thus leading a “school of the forest” project, on the grounds of the association Aux Jardins de Mater Dei in Alaigne, Aude (to support it

Through these means, the parents are associated with the life of the school, a participation which reaps good appreciations. Since the health crisis, families have also felt the need to open their children to new forms of pedagogy, even if that of Maria Montessori is very old.

Note another pitfall: in France, if there are enough Montessori schools for primary education (about 200, of which only 3 under contract in 2017), there are only about twenty colleges and 3 high schools.

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At the Montessori school, we give free rein to the impulses of the children, and we just