top of page

Virginia Montessori Academy

Observation Guidelines

Welcome! We are happy that you are able to visit our school and experience our classroom communities in person. We hope it will be an informative and positive experience. It is important that you observe as a naturalist observes-without interaction that would disturb and change the environment. The Montessori environment is carefully set up and designed for the children in the classroom. The shelves, materials, and furnishings are designed to be at the child's eye/hand level. The children are responsible for, and take pride in maintaining the room, working with the materials in a careful and thoughtful manner.


Below are some guidelines to follow and tips to get the most out of your visit:

  • Please plan to observe for no longer than 30 minutes.

  • Please sit quietly. A chair will be provided for you in a spot where you can have the best vantage point in observing the children.

  • Do not interact with the teacher, unless you are approached.

  • Do not interact with any children. If a child approaches you, be pleasant but brief. You may say something similar to, "I came to see you work."

  • Observe the entire class overall.

  • Look for qualities of independence, self-discipline, self-direction, attention, concentration, and joy.

  • Observe one child of each age in the classroom.

  • If you have a child in the class, please keep in mind that he or she may be excited by your presence. In any case, his or her behavior in the class may be different than usual.

  • Please do not compare your child with others.

  • Remember, the more unobtrusive you remain, the better chance you have of seeing the class as it normally functions. 

  • Please respect the children’s confidentiality and do not discuss individuals and their behaviors with other parents.

  • Kindly remember that the directress’s responsibility is with the children.  Please make a written note of any questions or comments as they arise.  You may discuss your questions with the administrator or during your parent teacher conference.

Look for these key elements of a Montessori classroom:

  • Children of varying ages working independently: alone, in pairs, or in small groups.

  • Children concentrating on work, even though there is activity and work going on around them.

  • Children choosing their own work.

  • Children engaged in quiet conversation.

  • Children cooperating and helping one another.

  • Children settling their own differences.

  • Children caring for the environment—putting work away when completed, cleaning up their messes and handling the materials with care.

  • Adults interacting with children but not as the central focus of the classroom.

  • A child at an individual lesson with a directress.

  • Peaceful and calm body movements.

  • Children demonstrating a secure sense of independence.

You may also observe a child walking seemingly aimlessly.  Often this child is actively watching the other children and absorbing information through observation.  Watch with ease and joy with which the children work.

bottom of page