top of page

What is the Montessori three hour work period time? Why do we do it?

When prospective parents ask me what is Montessori Education, I would not be able to talk about Montessori Education without talking about the three-hour work period. A significant part of why Montessori education stands out more than other educational methods out there is the three-hour work period time.

"The mind takes some time to develop interest, to be set in motion, to get warmed up into a subject, to attain a state of profitable work. If at this time there is interruption, not only is a period of profitable work lost, but the interruption, produces an unpleasant sensation which is identical to fatigue.”

~Maria Montessori

What is three hour work period time?

As indicated by it’s name, it’s a three-hour length of work time which is protected time where children can complete multiple cycles of activity, eventually creating a three-hour or longer work cycle.

What happens during these 3 hours? Can the children really work 3 hours?

"Wandering Period" 9:00 AM-9:30 AM

Typically, the first half-hour from 9:00 AM to 9:30 AM, after the children arrive, there is a time of wandering around the classroom and touching a lot of different materials. That’s a time when the children are transitioning from one environment to another, and start settling in. Some children might have this wandering period, while some might enter the classroom ready to tackle the task they already have in mind.

"Busy Work Period" 9:30 AM to 10:00 AM

During the second half-hour from 9:30 AM to 10:00 AM, we usually see children choosing from a variety of materials around the classroom and they often choose materials that are easy to master or the materials that are more familiar with, Dr. Montessori noted While some children may be attentive to their work, some may "look busy," repeating activities and keeping one eye out on the rest of the classroom.

"False Fatigue Period" 10:00 AM to 10: 20 or 10:30 AM

At 10 o’clock, you can see from the chart, the children’s attention drastically drops. Here Dr. Montessori noted this is the False Fatigue period. During this time, the children appear tired or bored, restlessly moving around the classroom. They may appear to be clumsier with their bodies and less attentive with their minds. The children may request more help from the teachers or even disturb others. This false fatigue period is usually from 10 to 20 minutes or even 30 minutes. In traditional classroom environments, this is when the teachers would hustle the children to go outside or off to a new activity. But what do Montessori teachers do? Montessori teachers know to wait patiently for the false fatigue period to end.

"Most Earnest Work Period" 10:30 AM to 11:00 or 11:30 AM

Dr. Montessori observed that if we could just wait patiently for the false fatigue period to end, not rushing the children to go outside, or do the next activity, we will see that children will start settling in again, and this time, they will find a more purposeful job or tackle a new job or a more difficult job. This time, the children will reach a deeper level of concentration much quicker.

"Calm Serenity Period" 11:30 AM to 12:00 PM

The last 30 minutes of work period time, Dr. Montessori notes as Calm Serenity. This is the moment sometimes the whole classroom quiets down. Everyone is working, everyone is minding their own business. A beautiful and peaceful moment.

What is our hope for the work period time?

The 3-hour work period is not to glorify that Montessori children can work for 3 hours! Instead, we as a Montessori teacher know we are trying to promote true leaning is. In true learning we see the children have

  • A deeper concentration​

  • The desire to learn through the materials​

  • A satisfaction with the completion of the work​

  • Joy of learning

A deeper concentration​

3-year-old girl chose the sewing card board job, she made the mistake, the thread is tangled, she then untangled it. She repeats the work many times, and is fully engaged in the process. She does this on her own terms, in her own time, and she can move on to the next activity when she is completely ready and satisfied. During the process, she reached a deeper level of concentration.

The desire to learn through the materials​

The boy is working on multiplication bead board, after he finished, he uses the control chart to check his answers. The control chart allows him to recognize and correct his work, and empowers the boy to discover the error on his own, rather than a teacher discovering his mistake. This whole process can happen within the 3-hour work period or not. It really doesn't matter to us as a teacher. It matters to the boy that he is making the decision of his day. How wonderful that the boy can have the opportunity to gain his independence, confidence, and perseverance through work.

A satisfaction with the completion of the work​

The girl wanted to learn the map of the South American continent. She studied the map, then she wanted to make one of her own. She is self-motivated to do her work, and she is eager to complete the work. In her, you see the true beauty of Montessori education, the freedom to choose a job, the self-motivation to tackle the task, a child's independence, and the self-satisfaction of finishing the task.

Joy of learning!

When a child is allowed to be fully immersed in his work, there is a powerful feeling of success and confidence that is radiant from within the child.  Joy reveals itself where children are free to move around, and talk to one another. In these three hours, the children can work together or work individually. They follow their own pace, listen to their own inner teacher.

223 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page