Is Montessori Good for Children with ADHD?

by Matt Bronsil, author of English as a Foreign Language in the Montessori Classroom

You're Probably Curious About Your Situation

If you're looking into whether a child with ADHD would thrive in a Montessori classroom, chances are you are a parent looking for answers for your own child. You may have some idea of Montessori, but not a lot. Or maybe you have been a fan of Montessori forever and are now wondering if your child would fit into this environment.

If you had a chance to see Montessori, think back to the first time you saw it. If you were in a structured setting, you were possibly amazed. You never imagined a classroom where children are working independently and carefully in a peaceful classroom with seemingly little or no intervention from the teacher. Our traditional image of a preschool classroom is one where if the teacher were not constantly in front of and entertaining the children for the entire day, chaos would immediate ensue. Seeing a Montessori classroom destroys that myth entirely. While this is wonderful to see, many parents begin to have doubts:

While ultimately there are no clear answers to these questions on how things will go, since every child is different, there are reasons why generally speaking a Montessori environment is much more suited to a child with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Montessori is Focused on Movement

While it seems like a child with ADHD may be a better fit in an environment where everyone is seated and, therefore, there are fewer distractions. While I understand the thought process behind this, it rarely is the reality.

In this classroom in our heads, there are no distractions whatsoever. How could there be? The teacher is watching over everyone and the children are happily doing their paperwork. What we get in that type of school are many distractions:

The Solutions Suggested are Very Montessori Ideas

When looking into suggestions of what to do for a child with ADHD in the classroom I came across several suggestions. They include allowing time for children to stretch, move around the room, even jump or run in place. They suggest allowing the child with ADHD to sit in his chair differently. One suggestion I found was to have a child deliver a "secret note" to another teacher who understands the child needs to move. I even saw a suggestion to allow the child to sit on the floor near you with something to do with their hands (like a squeeze ball) to help them concentrate better.

All These are Carried Out in Montessori Every Day

(Continue Reading Below)To learn more about positive discipline in the Montessori Environment, take a look at Jane Nelson's and Chip DeLorenzo's book "Positive Discipline in the Montessori Classroom.

Positive Disciplin in the Montessori Classroom
Buy Positive Discipline in the Montessori Classroom on (affiliate link)

Allow the Child to Stretch and Move

Throughout the entire classroom, children are moving and creating work together. They begin a work by taking and unrolling a rug, then carrying the material to their rug. They may instead elect to sit at a table and, when they are done, push their chair in and return the work to the shelf. Sometimes I work with a child and notice their brain is just overloading on what they are doing. So my suggestion is just to stand up, walk around the classroom for a minute, and come back and see if they are ready. I often set objects I am working with on the other side of the room and ask the child to go retrieve them. This looks like just an exercise in memory and mental focus, which it partially is, but it is also a chance for the child to move while doing the activity. Movement happens all the time in a Montessori classroom and it is that type of movement that creates a better overall environment for the child with ADHD. The movement in Montessori is not a distraction from the norm; it is the norm. And the child's need to move is now normalized in the classroom, rather than penalized.

Allow the Child to Sit on the Floor Near You

In Montessori, work is done on the floor all the time. So much so that we actually kind of get made fun of it by people outside the Montessori world. I often even have children lying on the floor doing a work at a rug. Can you imagine that happening in a more traditional classroom where the teacher wants the child in their desk or chair?

Rather than simply being regulated to a chair or desk, the Montessori child has much more room to spread out and get themselves comfortable, move as they need to (within reason), and take care of that need their body has for movement.

Other Benefits of Montessori for Children with ADHD

Other Benefits include:

It's the Teacher That Matters Most

I just went through reasons why the Montessori Environment is a fantastic environment for a child with ADD or ADHD. However, this blog focuses purely on the environment. The most important aspect is how well you get along with the teacher and how much trust you put into them. I'm a big fan of Montessori, but I think what matters most is a caring and patient teacher that understands children. Montessori has many of those, but it's not the only school type that does. I hope I gave you things to consider with Montessori and ADHD. You can read a full-length article about this topic on my Media Page.

Matt Bronsil is the author of these posts. He can be contacted at To subscribe to the email list, sign up on our contact page and you will receive an email when the list is updated.

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