The Montessori Three Period Lesson - The Montessori Room
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by Laura Berthiaume November 23, 2021 2 min read

Imagine you and I hung out all day and the whole time I asked you a series of questions:

What year did the Berlin wall come down?
Who was the 9th Prime Minister of Canada?
What is 316 x 219?

etc.

What if I kept randomly interrupting our activities to ask you more questions (and you couldn’t use your phone or computer to look up any of the answers)?

You might know how to answer to a few questions but likely not all.

After a while, you’d probably be a little annoyed with me!

Fair.

Especially after I confidently tell you all the answers to the ones you don’t know or got wrong.

This is our children's lived experience most days.

What colour is that truck?
How many grapes are on your plate?
Where is the purple flower?

Of course we don’t mean to annoy them, we’re just trying to teach them, but it can be discouraging and frustrating to constantly be asked questions that you don’t always know the answer to.

Montessori Three Period Lesson

Enter Montessori’s confidence-boosting approach to teaching - The Three Period Lesson

There’s a common phrase in Montessori - “Teach by teaching, not correcting”.

The Three Period Lesson provides the framework to allow us to do just that.

The three periods are:

1. Naming (Introduction) "This is a dog."
2. Recognizing (Identification) "Show me the dog."
3. Remembering (Cognition) "What is this?"

The three-part lesson can be used in so many ways and often parents use this approach informally without realizing it. Now that you see it more formally, it’ll be even easier for you to use.

  • Step 1 is to simply point out and name something when your child is first exposed to it.

  • When you are confident your child knows the word and can identify it, you can ask your child to point it out while YOU name it. "Where is the dog?"

  • Lastly, you can ask the open-ended question “What is this?”.

The three-part lesson can be used in so many ways and often parents use this approach informally without realizing it. Now that you see it more formally, it’ll be even easier for you to use.

  • Step 1 is to simply point out and name something when your child is first exposed to it.

  • When you are confident your child knows the word and can identify it, you can ask your child to point it out while YOU name it. "Where is the dog?"

  • Lastly, you can ask the open-ended question “What is this?”.


If your child gets stuck at any of the stages, take a step back to the previous period and work there for a while.

Note that you should only move to the third period when you’re sure that your child will succeed.

This may take some time so don’t rush it.

Since the ultimate goal is to help your child master the information for themselves, moving to the third period too soon puts you into the mode of having to correct your child.

It'll take a little getting used to but I promise it will promote confidence and a joy of learning in your little one.


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