Montessori Education Cycle, aka The Three-Year Cycle

Another hallmark of a Montessori classroom is the education or learning cycles at each level.

Maria Montessori recognized that there is a range of development for children. The (two or) three-year cycle at each level, matches the range of development of the children they serve.

We know that children in each of these multiage classrooms will generally be in the same developmental range. We witness, every day, the benefits of the interaction of children of multiple ages and multiple stages in their growth and development. Our students are able to experience each social role–the novice, the generalist, and the expert. They are able to explore their own potential at their own pace, noticing the examples of other children and practicing leadership as they are ready.

The fact that the curriculum in Montessori is a continuum (rather than a finite prescription according to grade level) provides a wealth of opportunities for a child to continuously be challenged academically. While the age span in a Montessori classroom is typically 3 years, this does not limit a Montessori teacher’s ability to help a child reach their fullest potential.

In addition, Montessori teachers create additional lessons, bring in materials from the next program level to the environment, and we arrange for children from one program level to visit the next program level to receive one-on-one lessons from the teacher.

The education cycle in a Montessori classroom is the ideal. The multi-age environment offers children the space and the time to develop, to explore, to integrate, and to master before moving on to the next challenge on the horizon.

For those of you who attended Moving Up Information Night, I hope you enjoyed learning about the next level of your child’s experience at FWM.

We’re here to answer any questions.

Montessori- The Application of Knowledge and Virtual Moving Up Information Night

As I visited each classroom this week, I observed one of the hallmarks of a Montessori Education – The Application of Knowledge.

Each child is provided with learning opportunities that continue to organize their thinking through work with the Montessori materials. This is most easily observed in mathematics. As a student moves from the concrete to the abstract, you can see the application of their knowledge to real-world experiences. This organization of information, making sense of facts and figures and applying them to arrive at a solution, prepares the child for the world of adolescence. As children move into adolescence, thought and emotion evolve into understanding more abstract, universal concepts such as equity, freedom, and justice.

“… the child’s individual liberty must be so guided that through [their] activity [they] may arrive at independence … the child who does not do, does not know how to do.” —The Montessori Method

Join us for Moving Up Information Night to learn what the next level of learning at FWM has in store for your child! Moving Up Information Night will take place over four evenings starting on Tuesday, January 18 and ending on Tuesday, January 25. 

  • Toddler 2 – Thursday, Jan. 20 6:30-7:30
  • Primary 4 – Thursday, Jan. 20 6:30-7:30
  • Kindergarten – Tuesday, Jan. 25 6:30-7:30 
  • Lower Elementary 3rd – Wednesday, Jan. 19 6:30-7:30
  • Upper Elementary 5th – Tuesday, Jan. 18 6:30-7:30

Wishing you all a wonderful long weekend!

Welcome Back FWM! Happy New Year–Updates and Information

It’s been a wonderful (and icy and snowy) first week back! The children are so happy to be together again and we are excited to be back as well.

Our return to school is also marked by heightened concern surrounding the surge in positive COVID  cases.

Although it is unsettling to hear about the rising positivity rates, we’ve been down this road before. FWM continues to stay informed and up to date with the latest developments. Several updates have been released:

For your information, here is the CDC’s latest update to isolation and quarantine recommendations.  

The Connecticut Department of Health released Updated Considerations for Quarantine, Isolation, Testing, and Contact Tracing Policies and Procedures for PreK-12 Schools.   Compliance with these new changes is optional for all schools.  

Our team at FWM is talking daily and considering how to best incorporate the updated recommendations into our COVID safety protocols. Also, the CT DPH is expecting further updates to the CDC’s guidance.  At this time, FWM has decided to wait for further updates before announcing any changes to our policies.  As information or procedures change, families will be notified by email.

The Omicron variant, by all accounts, is reported to be more contagious but is also reported to cause less serious symptoms, especially for those who are vaccinated. Our vaccination rate for those eligible continues to grow but is not at a level that gives us the measure of security we need to relax our efforts. 

We should all continue to be vigilant and do our part to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our community safe, because we know it is best for the children to be in school. We’re going to do all that we can to stay safe while continuing to provide in-person learning and fostering those interpersonal relationships the children need to truly thrive. 

Finally, keeping children home from school when they are sick is imperative to reduce transmission in our community. Individuals who are even mildly symptomatic with any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 should immediately isolate at home and test for the virus. If your child is not feeling well, please keep them home and contact our school nurse, Christina Benoit at

Thank you for your ongoing support and your cooperation to keep our community healthy. 

Staffing Update:

There has been a change in the front office. Michele Stramaglia is no longer at FWM and Mary Zaums will be answering phones and taking on the position of administrative assistant for now. 

Looking Ahead:

Moving Up Information Night will take place over four evenings starting on Tuesday, January 18 and ending on Tuesday, January 25. Please join us to learn what the next level of learning at FWM has in store for your child!

  • Toddler 2 – Thursday, January 20 6:30-7:30
  • Primary 4 – Thursday, January 20 6:30-7:30
  • Kindergarten – Tuesday, January 25 6:30-7:30
  • Lower Elementary 3rd – Wednesday, January 19 6:30-7:30
  • Upper Elementary 5th – Tuesday, January 18 6:30-7:30

Hope to see you there!

Happy Holidays from All of Us to All of You!

The holiday season gives all of us time to pause and reflect and to say “thank you” to the entire school community – parents, staff, and students alike.

I have witnessed our FWM community come together as a true community family to celebrate and support each other, never losing sight of our purpose… the children. 

As we enjoy this time of family, friends, and celebrating, we want to extend our warmest holiday wishes to each FWM family in our community.  Thank you for entrusting your children into our care every day. 

I hope you all have a festive and special holiday with plenty of time to relax and enjoy family and friends.

Warmest Wishes for a Happy Holiday and a Happy New Year!

Celebrating Holidays – The Montessori Way

True to Montessori, we do our best to keep the commercial “noise” of the holiday season out of our classrooms.

In a Montessori classroom, children are provided with age-appropriate content about different people, places, and traditions surrounding the holidays. This gives the children an opportunity to engage in meaningful activities that teach so much more than ‘a day on the calendar’. By learning about the holidays, they learn about other cultures. They begin to develop an awareness of what is different and what is similar among people around the world. They learn tolerance and acceptance. They learn what brings joy to people all over the globe.  The Montessori approach to celebrating the holidays is a gift to the children as it expands their hearts, their minds, and their world.   

Also true to Montessori is the belief that students are involved in community service. 

Maria Montessori’s vision is that a peaceful world begins with the children and that children would make the world a better place. We as Montessorians know that acts of community service help develop and educate the whole child. Students learn the joy of giving of themselves, and develop compassion because of these real, practical life, volunteer experiences. 

In the images accompanying this blog post, you will see our 8th year class loading gifts from the Middle School’s Holiday Family Gift Drive for two families in need and Upper Elementary students making sandwiches for the St. Vincent DePaul Mission in Waterbury. 

It is our hope that every child grows to become good citizens of the world. It is up to us as Montessori guides, teachers, and parents to teach and model global thinking for our children. 


As we prepare to celebrate the holidays with our loved ones, please remember that the health of our FWM community is of the utmost importance.  We need to approach the holidays keeping in mind guidance from the CDC, the state of CT, and our local DPH.  Because there is an increased risk of exposure when traveling to visit others or hosting others from outside of your household, we ask you to take every precaution. 

We ask that all Fraser Woods students follow the guidelines set out in our FWM Healthy Initiatives. A copy of this is in the Resources section of


The Learning Triangle in Montessori


When a child is given a little leeway, he will at once shout, ’I want to do it!’ But in our schools, which have an environment adapted to children’s needs, they say, ‘Help me to do it alone.’ ~Dr. Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

One of the hallmarks of a Montessori Education is known as the Learning Triangle. The Learning Triangle consists of the environment (classroom), the child, and the teacher.

What does that look like at FWM?

The Environment:

The classroom environment is prepared by the teacher to encourage independence, a sense of order and freedom within limits.

The Child:

Given choice, children take advantage of the materials presented in the environment to develop themselves.

The Teacher:

The teacher’s role is that of a Guide, Mentor, and Model or Directress/Director.  After individual lessons are presented to students, the students interact with their teacher when support and/or guidance is needed for the student to work successfully.

We see this at work every day.

In Toddler and Primary the children are interested in real activities with an intelligent purpose. The classroom environment allows for the development of movement, language, work with small objects, toileting, order, music, grace and courtesy, senses, writing, reading, spatial relationships, and mathematics.

In the elementary classrooms, children have a desire for intellectual independence. Students explore their place within the world and come to appreciate the interconnectedness of all things. This is also the “bridge to abstraction” which is the students’ transition from concrete to abstract thinking.

In middle school, students develop self-concern and self-assessment, critical thinking and exploring social and moral values, equity, and social justice. Adolescents also have a desire for emotional independence.

I am humbled by the work of our teachers and ever impressed by the care they take in preparing their classroom environments and the lessons they teach. Observing teachers as they guide, mentor, and model for their students assures me that The Learning Triangle is alive and well in every classroom at FWM.

Gratitude and Appreciation-Thanksgiving

“History should not be taught as a collection of dates and places. But rather be approached to arouse gratitude and appreciation. This gratitude should be aroused first to the law and order of the universe and the preparation of the environment into which human beings came.” ~Maria Montessori

In the United States, many of us celebrate and express gratitude in a holiday we call “Thanksgiving.”

For many, this marks the start of our winter holiday celebrations- a very fun and festive time of year. 

For me personally, I am reminded there is so much to be grateful for: family, friends, a roof overhead, good health, and so much more.  

Maria Montessori believed strongly in thanksgiving, making gratitude a strong presence in the Montessori classroom.

At FWM we look at gratitude and grace as something to be considered daily.

Beginning with Practical Life lessons of Grace and Courtesy in Toddler and Primary and continuing through the Elementary and Middle School Program, teachers model and children practice lessons that demonstrate positive social behavior which encourage students to adapt to life within a group and provide the knowledge of socially acceptable behavior. In the classroom, Grace can be how to politely get someone’s attention, how to give and receive a compliment, how to politely observe someone working or ask for help.  Grace and gratitude fill our community every day.

Wishing you all a safe, warm, and happy Thanksgiving! 

A Montessori Teacher is…

A Guide, a Director/Directress, a Facilitator 

In the Montessori classroom, you will not see your child’s teacher standing at the front of the room lecturing. The focus of learning in Montessori is on the students, not the teacher. 

The teachers are not there to provide students with information they must learn, memorize, and bring up at the time of an assessment. Instead, Montessori teachers guide and support children as they pursue learning on their own. Teachers facilitate learning by designing deliberate, well-thought-out learning opportunities and guide individual children based on their observations of each child’s readiness and interests.