This is a collection of resources that show how learning about the brain (neuroscience) can inform your Montessori practice. All of these were created by or feature Julia Volkman, Maitri Learning's founder. You can find additional publications on her Harvard Scholar page.

Reading & Dyslexia

Here is an overview of how reading works in the brain and a little insight into the many variations of dyslexia. I shared this with my students in the Neuroscience of Learning Course (Harvard University Extension School) and they found it useful.


Who was Maria Montessori?

Here is a brief history of the beginnings of the Montessori movement. This was recorded for the Neuroscience & the Classroom course (created by the Annenberg Foundation together with the Harvard Science Media Group).

Research on Neuroplasticity

My friend Nikita Matsunaga, Ph.D. (chemistry professor at LIU) was asking me about how exactly the brain changes when people master new knowledge or skills. Do the neural pathways get thicker/stronger? Well, kind of. There are physical and chemical changes that take place. For example, you'll get complex dendritic branching (so there are more physical synapses linking neurons) and you'll get more receptor sites (so neurotransmitters can be more likely to trigger an action potential). Anyway, if you are curious about this topic, here is some research on neuroplasticity originally compiled for the Neuroscience of Learning course that I help teach at Harvard (Extension School). I've also created a more general info page on neuroplasticity on my website. Have fun exploring!

Preschool Parent Orientation: Brain Development and Why you care 

For the past five years, I've been working with Zanetti public Montessori school in Springfield, MA to start and run a student and family orientation program. We just ran it for its fifth year... it is such a success that teacher's continue to donate two days of their prep time each August to keep it going. This is part two of that talk focusing on brain development and what it means for the child at home/parenting. Read more about the program and find a link to the logistics part of the talk as well as the slide deck in our pedagogy blog.


Neuroscience & the Classroom: The Montessori Approach

This clip discusses some of the science supporting the Montessori approach. (Disclaimer: There are pedagogical errors in the classroom footage. Do not use these as your exemplars!) The clip is just one in a much larger program created by the Annenberg Foundation. Take the whole course online for free here.

Neuroscience & the Classroom: Dynamic Skill Theory

Here is another clip from the Annenberg course. Here we look at how the Montessori method allows children to apply their knowledge over and over again as they build towards mastery. (Disclaimer: There are pedagogical errors in the classroom footage. Do not use these as your exemplars!)

Montessori Dynamic Skill Theory

Montessori & Neuroscience

The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) of Spain group brought me all the way to Girona, Spain (an ancient, walled city north of Barcelona...go visit!) to give this talk. Here is an audio recording of the talk I made to practice the night before we flew out. I was a little sleepy but you can still get the gist of it. May it be useful. 






Neuroscience and Conference Presentations

This is a Research Poster I presented by at the 2013 International Montessori Congress in Portland, OR. Awesome time!

The Neuroscience of Normalization

The South Carolina Montessori Association (SCMA) invited me to give this talk. They have an amazing organization in that state and are making tremendous strides in public Montessori. They also treated me like a queen: no shortage of southern hospitality! They are wonderful examples of grace & courtesy in action.

Parent Orientation

These parents were required to come into the school for preschool screening. Their children had 1-on-1 time with their teacher while the parents were stuck with me :) Instead of focusing on Montessori pedagogy, I focus on neuroscience as the door opener. People tend to listen when you talk about science/data. After 4 years, we have excellent attendance and returning parents (for younger siblings) who remember what was said before!


Special Needs: Brain-based strategies for working with the inherent variability of humans

This talk provides a brief, brain-based perspective on how humans learn, touches on the inherent variability of humanity, and goes into more detail on both ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Dyslexia is touched upon as well. This talk arose from my work and studies at Harvard University (Extension School) in the field of Mind, Brain, Health, and Education. ​


Brain Basics Website

Pinterest Boards by Julia

Articles by Julia