Montessori Education at a Distance, Part 1

A Survey of Montessori Educators’ Response to a Global Pandemic




Montessori, distance learning, COVID-19, pandemic


The transition to distance learning in the spring of 2020 caused by COVID-19 was particularly challenging for Montessori educators and students because key elements of the Method were not directly transferable to this new and hastily designed format. Hands-on learning with Montessori materials and learning in a community, as well as careful teacher observation, could not be easily replicated when children were learning from home. To understand how educators applied Montessori principles to serve children and families in these highly unusual circumstances, we surveyed Early Childhood and Elementary Montessori teachers about how they translated core elements of Montessori education to a distance-learning environment. The overall results suggest that Montessori distance-learning arrangements balanced live videoconference experiences for children with offline hands-on activities, while also relying on parents’ and caregivers’ involvement. Teachers reported that they largely designed learning experiences themselves, without significant support or guidance from school leaders. Still, teachers reported that they were able to uphold Montessori principles to only a moderate degree under the circumstances. While teachers understandably hunger for support, professional connections, and a return to the classroom experiences that drew them to the field of Montessori education, this study highlights factors that may affect the transition back to school for teachers, parents and caregivers, and students when face-to-face instruction resumes for all children.

Author Biographies

Angela K. Murray, University of Kansas

Angela Murray† is an assistant research professor at the University of Kansas and is the director of the KU Center for Montessori Research. She can be reached at

Katie E. Brown, National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector

Katie Brown is director of professional learning at the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector.

Patricia Barton, University of Buffalo

Patricia Barton is a graduate student at the University of Buffalo, head of school at Desert Shadows Montessori, and Early Childhood coordinator of the Arizona Montessori Teacher Education Program.


Culclasure, B., Daoust, C., Cote, S., & Zoll, S. (2019). Designing a logic model to inform Montessori research. Journal of Montessori Research, 5(1), 35–49.

Debs, M., & Brown, K. E. (2017). Students of color and public Montessori schools: A review of the literature. Journal of Montessori Research, 3(1), 1–15.

MacDonald, G. (2016). Technology in the Montessori classroom: Benefits, hazards and preparation for life. NAMTA Journal, 41(2), 99–107.

Montessori, M. (2012). The 1946 London lectures. Montessori-Pierson Publishing.

National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector. (n.d.). The Montessori census.

Saldaña, J. (2009). The coding manual for qualitative researcher. SAGE.

Walston, J., Redford, J., & Bhatt, M. P. (2017). Workshop on Survey Methods in Education Research: Facilitator’s guide and resources (REl 2017–214; ED573681). U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest.

W. K. Kellogg Foundation. (2004). W. K. Kellogg Foundation logic model development guide.




How to Cite

Murray, A. K., Brown, K., & Barton, P. (2021). Montessori Education at a Distance, Part 1: A Survey of Montessori Educators’ Response to a Global Pandemic. Journal of Montessori Research, 7(1), 1–29.