Special Needs Children and Montessori

The concept of a Montessori education may seem ideal for children with special needs such as autism, ADHD and other learning challenges. There are both positives and negatives in this idea.  Montessori schools are concerned with the best interests of each child and strive to provide this to each student.


Montessori classrooms are equipped with beautiful materials to engage all of a child’s senses. They are hands-on, enticing and therapeutic. In most cases they teach only one skill at a time and offer a chance for children with special needs to use their hands to explore and learn.  Montessori groups children into 3-year (3-6, 6-9) multi-age classrooms, so the younger children can learn from older ones and Montessori emphasizes peace, cooperation, and respect, so it is less likely that a child with special needs will be teased or ostracized because the other children usually make an effort to accept, befriend, and encourage a special needs child.  In the event that a special needs child needs to repeat a grade, they can do so without being held back or missing their classmates.  But because class sizes are larger the Special Needs Students may not get the level attention he or she needs.  Since children are encouraged to work at their own pace, without competition, test scores, and grades, they are also encouraged to follow their own interests when it comes to reading, writing, and research.  This kind of freedom allows the special needs child to flourish.  The multi-age classroom means a child is with a teacher for a 3-year cycle, building a strong relationship with the parents and their child and he or she doesn’t have the stress of starting in a new classroom each school year.


Montessori teacher’s training does not include information on working with Special Needs Students, so prospective teachers must obtain this training and experience on their own. In addition, public schools are required to accommodate Special Needs Children, but Private schools such as Montessori school do not have that requirement.  It is recommended that you inquire with the individual school you are interested in so see what their requirements, capabilities and accommodations for Special Needs Students are. Ensure that you understand what, if anything, they are able to provide before attempting to enroll your child.