A true Montessori classroom has these basic characteristics:
- Teachers certified in Montessori philosophy and methodology appropriate to the age level they teach.
- A multi-aged, diverse group of students.
- A wide array of Montessori materials, activities, and experiences designed to foster physical, intellectual, creative, and social independence.
- A schedule of large blocks of uninterrupted time to problem-solve, see various connections of knowledge, and create new ideas.
- A classroom atmosphere that encourages social interaction for cooperative learning and peer teaching.
- The Montessori method uses a series of unique and specifically designed materials geared toward each individual lesson. The system cannot function or be successful without these special objects.
The prepared environment and the role of the teacher in the classroom distinguish Montessori from other approaches. Independent activity constitutes most of the work. Teacher-directed activity is a small percentage.
The prepared environment offers practical ways to introducing social relationships. The logical, sequential nature of the classroom provides orderly structures that guide discovery. Theorems are discovered, not presented; spelling rules are figured out through patterns, not memorized. Every aspect of the curriculum involves creative invention and careful, thoughtful analysis. Why and how students arrive at what they know is just as important as what they know.