Podcast: How Current Brain Research Shapes Our Work in the Montessori Classroom

greenspring center for lifelong learning

Julia was absolutely thrilled to chat with her old friend and inspiring Montessori leader, Tamara Balis. They recorded another episode for the Greenspring Center for Lifelong Learning's podcast.

This podcast takes some of the everyday experiences we have with young children and connects them with neurodevelopment. We speak about:

January 19, 2023 by Julia Volkman

THE Interview (part 1): Paula Lillard Preschlack on The Montessori Potential

julia volkman interview with paula lillard preschlack

What is it like to grow up in a famous Montessori family and then work in a best-in-class Montessori school for 25 years? You can learn all the ins and outs in Paula's new book, The Montessori Potential, which is coming out in a few weeks.

Paula and I had a fantastic talk recently getting into what Montessori theory looks like in real life both at home (parenting) and in schools (teaching). This video is the first in the series recording that conversation. In this first in the series video, we talk about:

  • Growing up as a Lillard (yes, she's Angelline's baby sister and Paula Polk Lillard's daughter)
  • What does it really mean to be "Montessori" and do we have a branding problem?
  • How did she evolve as a Montessori leader and author?
  • How does observation influence our work as parents and educators?
  • Common mistakes that parents make in understanding what our children are really showing us
January 17, 2023 by Julia Volkman

The Montessori/Dwyer Language Approach for Early Childhood

Montessori Dwyer language program

Dr. Montessori originally developed her method for helping children learn Italian, a completely phonetic language. But it was Muriel Dwyer who used that method to tackle the complexities of non-phonetic languages like English and Swahili. Muriel Dwyer was a brilliant AMI Teacher Trainer who worked extensively in both London and Africa (in the Swahili language). 

The Dwyer approach is founded in the traditional AMI language approach but has a few key adjustments. Here are the big ones: 

January 03, 2023 by Maitri Sales

How to give a Montessori Lesson

montessori lesson

Teaching a child how to use a new material or do a new activity is a sacred event. We treat it like a tea ceremony that includes precise steps to follow at the beginning, in the middle, and in the end. 

While each activity has it's own precise presentation, the general way we introduce and complete lessons is fairly consistent for everything we do in early childhood. Here's an overview of how that looks.

January 03, 2023 by Julia Volkman

3-Period Lesson

how to teach vocabulary with the montessori 3-period lesson

You've all heard about it, this radical and elegantly simple way to teach vocabulary to anyone at any age. Really, if you're working with toddlers or teaching a new language, the Montessori 3-period lesson is THE go to strategy to help build vocabulary. 

Once you've learned it, it is incredibly easy to use. Here's the big picture. The teacher follows the following three steps to teach new words:

  • Period 1: This is the... [name the object]
  • Period 2: Show me the... [name the object but let the child interact]
  • Period 3: What is this?

The key points to remember are that:

  1. Most of the learning happens in period 2
  2. Never go to the third period until you are 100% certain the child can produce the vocabulary

Why? First, because receptive language (understanding what a thing is called) is much easier than expressive language (being able to produce the name of a thing). That's why we do a lot of work in the second period, especially movement. 

Read the full article for details,...

December 08, 2022 by Julia Volkman

Neuroscience of Mindfulness

neuroscience of mindfulness youtube video

I presented this talk at the Montessori Foundation conference in St. Petersburg and participants were asking for my slides. So, I decided to post a video and slides in case they might help.

The big takeaways from the talk are,...

November 16, 2022 by Julia Volkman

Art in the Classroom

art in the montessori classroom

When we go to Montessori teacher school we are taught to have gorgeous examples of art throughout our prepared environment. But it's not just meant to look pretty on the walls! It's means to actually bring culture alive for us and our children. And, I think most importantly, it gives the children inspiration and motives for conversation. Young children are just becoming masters of our language. They need opportunities to organize their thoughts and express themselves aloud. With art, this is easy to do because whatever they think or say about art, they can't be wrong,... it's art!


November 11, 2022 by Julia Volkman

Montessori Manuals and Albums

montessori teacher education manualized

You may have noticed that we started offering our Montessori Teacher Education Albums for sale. Historically, in the AMI Montessori world, this is a big no no and I am a huge AMI Montessori fan (and an AMI graduate). So, why the heck am I offering the public our sacred teachings without requiring them to have access to a teacher preparation course? In a nutshell, because I'm a scientist.

I am offering these albums because science can not study what is hidden. If we want the Montessori method to be validated through research, we must make the method known to those who would study it. We can look to the success of other manualized programs (like cognitive behavioral therapy) as a model to help improve our teacher education programs.

Read on for details!

October 18, 2022 by Julia Volkman

Practical Parenting to Support the Brain: Intro

Childhood Potential

I was invited by the Childhood Potential Conference to offer a talk on the BEST topic: Practical Parenting to Support the Brain. The video below is a brief/short version of the longer version made for the conference. 

Key highlights include:

  • The brain never stops changing
  • Experience guides brain development
  • Use it or loose
  • Helping the child gain independence to grow strong brain neworks
  • The stress response and how to avoid it
  • Toileting and bedtime tips

If you're interested in Montessori parenting, you definitely want to check out the conference!


October 08, 2022 by Julia Volkman

Toileting Tips that Support the Brain

potty training tips to support the brain image

Potty-training, also known as Toilet-Learning, is messy. There's no way around it. But, it doesn't have to be stressful on top of being messy! I've put together some basic information on how to accomplish this in a short YouTube Video. This video is a shorter version of my Practical Parenting to Support the Brain video created for the Childhood Potential Conference (an online Montessori parenting conference that you won't want to miss).

View the article to see the video and read details.

October 04, 2022 by Julia Volkman