If your child has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD) you may be wondering if a Montessori school is a good choice for him. In many situations, a Montessori school allows children with learning differences to thrive. But, not all Montessori schools are the same and some are better equipped to meet the needs of your ADHD child than others. Understanding what to expect from the school and how it can benefit your child is the first step to choosing a school.


Montessori schools are based on the principle that children should learn through hands-on experience and that they should direct their own learning. This means that teachers guide the child's educational experience by providing quality manipulatives and educational materials. Instead of relying on a strict curriculum with tasks all children must master at a given grade level or age, children are encouraged to learn at their own rate. In addition, assessments typically rely on demonstration of tasks instead of standardized testing. This can be good news for the ADHD child in several ways.

  • ADHD children may be gifted in one or more areas. A Montessori school allows the child to pursue those areas of interest.
  • Children with ADHD often have difficulty with standardized testing and are better at demonstrating what they know.
  • ADHD children often have difficulty staying tuned into lectures or teacher directed activities.

Teacher Training

Teachers in Montessori schools have been specially trained to guide children in their learning, but also know how to pull back and let the child explore and learn on his own. Although the teacher must complete training in the Montessori method and complete a 400-hour internship under a certified Montessori teacher, they do not need a traditional teaching certificate. This training includes coursework in working with children with special needs, but the school may not have a teacher trained specifically in working with children with disabilities. For a child with severe ADHD, this may cause some problems.

  • Teachers may lack knowledge of your child's specific disability and challenges.
  • Teachers may not have an expert, like a special education teacher, to turn to for support and guidance when problems arise.
  • The school may not have a behavioral specialist who is trained in managing disruptive or aggressive behavior that sometimes surfaces with children with ADHD.

Class Size

Children in Montessori schools are grouped according to learning objectives, which means large groups of children of varying ages may be working together. Under ideal circumstances, this allows children to socialize with different age peers and learn from those older than themselves. Because the role fo the teacher is to guide student learning, there is less direct instruction. This can be both beneficial and challenging for the ADHD child.

  • Large groups may challenge the ADHD child's ability to remain on task.
  • An ADHD child may need more structure to keep him on task and to direct his learning.
  • Interacting with children from several age groups builds social skills, an area that many ADHD children struggle with.
  • Age becomes less important as peers form based on interests and development, which means your child will not be left behind his peers because he has less-developed skills in some areas.

Supportive Services

Traditional schools are required to provide supportive services to students with disabilities. This often includes pull-out programs for working on social, emotional and academic skills. It may also include speech and language services, one-on-one aids to keep your child on task or other needed services. As a rule, Montessori schools do not provide the additional resources your child may receive in a traditional public school.

Deciding whether a Montessori school is right for your ADHD child isn't always an easy choice. Look for a school that specializes in working with children with special needs and talk to the teachers about any challenges your child faces. Look for one that will embrace your child's differences and encourage him to build his strengths.