Montessori Special Programs - Follow the Child

A strength-based Montessori program for children with Autism, Asperger's or similar gifts and challenges.

Program Statement:

In 2007, Maria Montessori Education Centre (MMEC) was founded with one goal: to provide an authentic, accessible Montessori community to children and their families. It has always been our dream to expand our programming to include classes for a wider range of children. We believe that this is an area of local need; there are currently no Montessori schools offering dedicated special education classes.

The Montessori philosophy was founded on Dr. Maria Montessori's observations and work with children who were considered to be "uneducable" due to mental disabilities. Using the scientific method, Montessori developed programming and materials that are enticing, self-correcting, and highly purposeful. Montessori education is based on the fundamental principle that all humans have an innate desire to learn. When children are free to follow their talents and develop their strengths they build confidence and concentration, develop new skills, and experience flow.

The prepared adults connect the children to the environment through lessons; they support the child's learning and development in individualized ways. Students may take out any work that they have had a lesson on (the teacher may offer to present a lesson or the student can ask for any desired lessons) and may practice that work as often and for as long as they wish. All purposeful activity is seen as valuable, a child who displays behaviours that disrupt, disrespect, or cause harm will be kindly, but firmly, redirected.

Our children with Autism, Asperger's or similar gifts and challenges often have significant areas of strength and interest. At MMEC we firmly believe in the importance of following the child and in the importance of strength-based education. Montessori children are encouraged to work at their own pace, without the burden of competition, test scores, and grades. They are also encouraged to follow their own interests when it comes to work choices, reading, writing, and research. This kind of freedom allows the child with special needs to flourish.

Follow the Child - An Example:

John was fascinated by shapes and colours. He looked for them everywhere and collected them whenever possible. In Montessori school, John's teacher knew that this passion could be the "key" to deeper learning and joy for John. John's teacher encouraged and supported John by introducing more and more shapes and colours. Over time, John developed reading skills from looking through his math dictionary, learned to count by learning about polygons, and developed his fine motor skills, culminating in writing, by drawing ever more precise pictures using shapes and colours. John branched out, becoming fascinated and skilled in work with 2D and 3D shapes as well as even and odd numbers.

By "following the child", supporting John in his talents and strengths, we may be setting him up for a high-interest career in engineering, art, science, mathematics, information technology, or many more possibilities.

There needs to be a lot more emphasis on what a child CAN do, instead of what he cannot do.
-Dr. Temple Grandin

Special Programs:


  • Children with Autism, Asperger's or similar gifts and challenges
  • 4-6 children aged from kindergarten to grade three
  • Children will qualify for Severe Disabilities Funding or Program Unit Funding (PUF) through Alberta Education
  • Educational assessment shows the child's IQ and/or GAI as approximately average, or higher, overall
  • Students may follow the Alberta Program of Studies (graded curriculum) or follow their own modified curriculum; each child will have an Individualized Program Plan (IPP)
  • Children have learned toileting
  • Children generally exhibit gentle behaviour

Prepared Classroom Environment:

  • 1 teacher and 1-2 educational assistants
  • Staff have expertise in Montessori education and special education
  • Access to specialists (OT, PT, SLP)
  • Intimate, multi-aged student community
  • Montessori materials appropriate for the age, interests, and developmental plane of the children
  • Wide range of hands-on learning materials and experiences in all subject areas: language arts, sciences, mathematics, cultural/social studies, health, grace and courtesy, arts, ITC (technology), practical life activities, and physical education
  • Freedom and responsibility
  • Focus on developing concentration, purposeful activity, and on maintaining internal motivation
  • Direct instruction and practice of social skills, grace and courtesy


  • Activity space for games, sensory exploration, and gross motor development
  • Outdoor space including playground and grassy field

Montessori and Special Education:

Dr. Maria Montessori's first work teaching children was with children who had developmental delays. After working with intellectually disabled children, Dr. Montessori said she taught a number of the children "to read and to write so well that I was able to present them at a public school for an examination together with normal children. And they passed the examination successfully" (The Montessori Method). This laid the foundation for Montessori education. Montessori education is used today for many types of children, including children with a wide range of needs.

Strength-based Education:

Strength-based education involves a process of assessing, teaching, and designing experiential learning activities to help students identify their greatest talents, and to then develop and apply strengths based on those talents in the process of learning, intellectual development, and academic achievement to levels of personal excellence.


  • Application form [PDF]
  • $150 application fee
  • Psycho Educational Assessment
  • Diagnosis Letter
  • Other recent assessments
  • Most recent IPP
  • Most recent report card


$10,800 per year.


Please direct questions to Amanda Kershaw ( ). 403-668-8538.

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Maria Montessori Education Centre Ltd.
2634 12 Avenue N.W.
Calgary, Alberta, T2N 1K6
HG © 2018 Maria Montessori Education Centre Ltd