Inspirational Quotes on Child-Led Learning, Respectful Parenting, and Nature-Based Explorations For Teachers, Parents, and Educators

Dr. Montessori has left us with an incredible inheritance of wisdom and knowledge. I would love to share with you some of my favorite quotes from Maria Montessori in addition to wisdom from great educators, parents, and authors. This list is constantly growing and will have more inspiration for you when it comes to child-led learning, respectful parenting, and hands-on explorations in nature.

“How much fuller and richer life would be if we saw the child in all his greatness, all his beauty, instead of focusing on all his little mistakes?” – Maria Montessori


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“Do we believe and constantly insist that cooperation among the peoples of the world is necessary in order to bring about peace? If so, what is needed first of all is a collaboration with children…. All our efforts will come to nothing until we remedy the great injustice done to the child, and remedy it by cooperating with him. If we are among the men of good will who yearn for peace, we must lay the foundation for peace ourselves, by working for the social world of the child.” – Maria Montessori


“What we need is a world full of miracles, like the miracle of seeing the young child seeking work and independence, and manifesting a wealth of enthusiasm and love.” — Maria Montessori


“We seek to sow life in the child rather than theories, to help him in his growth, mental and emotional, as well as physical, and for that, we must offer grand and lofty ideas to the human mind.“ – Maria Montessori


“Children live in the world of their own interests, and the work they do there must be respected, for although many activities of children may seem pointless to grownups, nature is using them for her own ends. She is building mind and character as well as bone and muscle.” – Maria Montessori


Children have an anxious concern for living beings, and the satisfaction of this instinct fills them with delight. It is therefore easy to interest them in taking care of plants and especially of animals. Nothing awakens foresight in a small child such as this. When he knows that animals have need of him, that little plants will dry up if he does not water them, he binds together with a new thread of love for today’s passing moments with those of the morrow. ~Maria Montessori


If we change our whole attitude and say to ourselves, “My child knows what is best for him, Let us of course watch that he comes to no harm, but instead of trying to teach him our ways let us give him the freedom to live his little life in his own way,” then perhaps, if we are observant, we shall learn something about the ways of childhood. This is a new way to look at the responsibility which weighs so heavily on many parents. ~Maria Montessori


“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.” – Dr. Suess


Don’t ask yourself at the end of the day if you did everything right. Ask yourself what you learned and how well you loved, then grow from your answer. That is perfect parenting. – LR Knost


“It is time for a return to childhood, to simplicity, to running and climbing and laughing in the sunshine, to experiencing happiness instead of being trained for a lifetime of pursuing happiness. It is time to let children be children again.” – LR Knost


“Children become like the things they love.” – Maria Montessori


“What the hand does, the mind remembers.” – Maria Montessori


“There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all of the life to be found around them in a real forest.” – Maria Montessori


“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” – David Polis


“Let them look at the mountains and the stars up above. Let them look at the beauty of the waters and the trees and flowers on earth. They will then begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education.” – David Polis


“Every day in a hundred small ways, our children ask
 ‘Do you see me?’,
‘Do you hear me?’,
‘Do I matter?’.
Their behavior often reflects our response.” – LR Knost


“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” – James Comer


“I would far rather write a prescription for safe outdoor play for my patients than see them five years later with depression, anxiety, and obesity.” – W. Kohatsu


“The person who is developing freely and naturally arrives at a spiritual equilibrium in which he is master of his actions, just as one who has acquired physical poise can move freely.” – Maria Montessori


“A child is a discoverer. He is an amorphous, splendid being in search of his own proper form.” – Maria Montessori


“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” – Unknown


“Let the children free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning.” – Maria Montessori


“A child’s imagination does not require magazine worth place spaces in order to thrive. An active imagination craves mud, fresh air, sunshine, and freedom.” – Brooke Hampton


“My vision of the future is no longer of people taking exams and proceeding from secondary school to University but of passing from one stage of independence to a higher, by means of their own activity and effort of will.” — Maria Montessori


“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” –  Thich Nhat Hanh


“If we could say; “We are respectful and courteous in our dealing with children, we treat them as we should like to be treated ourselves,” we should have mastered a great educational principle and be setting an example of a good education.” – Maria Montessori


“Having a parent who listens, creates a child who believes he or she has a voice that matters in this world.” – Rachel Macy Stafford


“Our aim is not only to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core. We do not want complacent pupils, but eager ones.” – Maria Montessori


“No one who has ever done anything really great or successful has ever done it simply because he was attracted by what we call a ‘reward’ or by fear of what we call a ‘punishment’…. Every victory
and every advance in human progress comes from an inner compulsion.” – Maria Montessori


“As soon as children find something that interests them, they lose their instability and learn to concentrate.” – Maria Montessori


“Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child’s loss of a doll and a king’s loss of a crown are events of the same size.” – Mark Twain


“Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples, and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.” ― William Martin


“The senses, being explorers of the world, open the way to knowledge. Our apparatus for educating the senses offers the child a key to guide his explorations of the world.” – Maria Montessori


“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” ― James Baldwin


“It is not true that I invented what is called the Montessori Method… I have studied the child; I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it, and that is what is called the Montessori Method.” – Maria Montessori


“Nothing else ever will make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality especially while you struggle to keep your own.” – M Kelly


“The only language men ever speak perfectly is the one they learn in babyhood when no one can teach them anything!” – Maria Montessori


“The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. ” – Maria Montessori


“Children are not the people of tomorrow but are people of today. They have a right to be taken seriously, and to be treated with tenderness and respect. They should be allowed to grow into whoever they were meant to be. ‘The unknown person’ inside of them is our hope for the future.” ― Janusz Korczak


“When I say to a parent, “read to a child”, I don’t want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate.” – Mem Fox


” The respect and protection of women and of maternity should be raised to the position of an inalienable social duty and should become one of the principles of human morality. ” – Maria Montessori


“Effective parenting and, more specifically, effective discipline, don’t require punishment. Equating discipline with punishment is an unfortunate, but common misconception. The root word in discipline is actually disciple which in the verb form means to guide, lead, teach, model, and encourage. In the noun form disciple means one who embraces the teaching of, follows the example of, and models their life after.”  – LR Knost


“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint Exupéry


 “If we hope to create a non-violent world where respect and kindness replace fear and hatred, we must begin with how we treat each other at the beginning of life. For that is where our deepest patterns are set. From these roots grow fear and alienation – or love and trust.” – Suzanne Arms


“If you like to make things out of wood or sew, or dance, or style people’s hair, or dream up stories and act them out, or play the trumpet, or jump rope, or whatever you really love to do, and you love that in front of your children, that’s going to be a far more important gift than anything you could ever give them wrapped up in a box with ribbons.” – Fred M. Rogers


“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” – Rachel Carson


“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.” – L. B. Johnson


“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” – Mother Teresa


“We discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being.” – Maria Montessori


“Adult’s role is to teach children limits with love or the world will teach them without it.” — Paula Polk Lillard 


“Adults have not understood children or adolescents and they are, as a consequence, in continual conflict with them. The remedy is not that adults should gain some new intellectual knowledge or achieve a higher standard of culture. No, they must find a different point of departure. The adult must find within himself the still unknown error that prevents him from seeing the child as he is.” – Maria Montessori


“One becomes a well-balanced adult only if one has fully been a child.” – Maria Montessori


“A child is a discoverer. He is an amorphous, splendid being in search of his own proper form.” — Maria Montessori


“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken.” —Leo Tolstoy


Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful, it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living a heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.” LR Knost


“We need a renaissance of wonder. We need to renew, in our hearts and in our souls, the deathless dream, the eternal poetry, the perennial sense that life  is miracle  and magic.” – E. Merrill Root


“Do not erase the designs the child makes in the soft wax of her inner life.” – Maria Montessori


“It is crucial that when your children look into your eyes, regardless of circumstances bearing down on them, what they see is someone that believes in them. But that same power causes devastation when a child encounters an angry, irresponsibly mouthed parent. That is death to the heart and vision of a child. As parents, we especially carry this powerful responsibility. We are very powerful. Point that power carefully.” – Danny Silk


“The prize and the punishment are incentives toward the unnatural or forced effort, and, therefore we certainly cannot speak of the natural development of the child in connection with them.” – Maria Montessori


“… because we evolved in nature, we have a biological need to connect with it. We love nature because we learned to love the things that helped us survive. We feel comfortable in nature because that is where we have lived for most of life on earth. We are genetically determined to love the natural world. It is in our DNA.” – Qing Li.


“Everything you do for me, you take away from me.” – Maria Montessori


 “The small child walks to develop his powers, he is building up his being. He goes slowly. He has neither rhythmic step nor goal. But things around him allure him and urge him forward.”
Paula Polk Lillard


“A child, more than anyone else, is a spontaneous observer of nature.” – Maria Montessori


“The environment is in us, not outside of us. The trees are our lungs, the rivers our bloodstream. We are all interconnected, and what you do to the environment ultimately you do to yourself. ” – Ian Somerhalder


“Every child has a different learning style and pace.  Each child is unique, not only capable of learning but also capable of succeeding. ” – Robert John Meehan


“If children live with criticism, They learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, They learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule, They learn to be shy.
If children live with shame, They learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, They learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, They learn to be patient.
If children live with praise, They learn to appreciate.
If children live with acceptance, They learn to love.
If children live with approval, They learn to like themselves.
If children live with honesty, They learn truthfulness.
If children live with security, They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
If children live with friendliness, They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.”
Dorothy Law Nolte


“When a child’s life is full of sights, sounds, tastes, smells, textures, people, and places, he will learn. When he feels safe and loved, he’ll learn. When parents begin to recover from their own ideas of what learning should look like (what they remember from school) they will begin a new life of natural learning, too.” – Santra Dodd


“Everyone in the world ought to do the things for which he is specially adapted. It is the part of wisdom to recognize what each one of us is best fitted for, and it is the part of education to perfect and utilize such predispositions. Because education can direct and aid nature but can never transform her.” – Maria Montessori


“What advice can we give to mothers? Their children need to work at an interesting occupation;
they should not be helped unnecessarily, nor interrupted, once they have begun to do something purposeful.” – Maria Montessori


“As a rule … we do not respect our children. We try to force them to follow us without regard to their special needs. We are overbearing with them, and above all, rude; and then we expect them to be submissive and well-behaved, knowing all the time how strong is their instinct of imitation and how touching their faith in and admiration of us.” – Maria Montessori


“If salvation and help are to come, it is through the child; for the child is the constructor of man.” – Maria Montessori


“Research suggests that optimal parent-child relationship at any stage of development can be recognized by its balance between parents’ acknowledgment of the child’s immaturity – shown by providing structure, control, and regiment (demandingness) – and the parents’ acknowledgment of the child’s emergence as a confident, competent person – shown by providing stimulation, warmth, and respect for individuality (responsiveness).” – Baumrind


“Free choice is one of the highest of all the mental processes.” – Maria Montessori


“Every great cause is born from repeated failures and from imperfect achievements.” – Maria Montessori


“Respect all the reasonable forms of activity in which the child engages and try to understand them.” – Maria Montessori


“When children come into contact with nature, they reveal their strength”. – Maria Montessori


“If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man’s future.” – Maria Montessori


“It is necessary for the teacher to guide the child without letting him feel her presence too much, so that she may always be ready to supply the desired help, but may never be the obstacle between the child and his experience.” – Maria Montessori


“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.” – David Attenborough


“All human victories, all human progress, stand upon the inner force. Thus a young student may become a great doctor if he is spurred to his study by an interest which makes medicine his real vocation. But if he works in the hope of an inheritance, or of making a desirable marriage, or if indeed he is inspired by any material advantage, he will never become a true master or a great doctor, and the world will never make one step forward because of his work.” The Montessori Method


“The “Children’s House” is a garden of child culture, and we most certainly do not keep the children for so many hours in school with the idea of making students of them!… Considering the method as a while, we must begin our work by preparing the child for the forms of social life, and we must attract his attention to these forms.” The Montessori Method


“The first dawning of real discipline comes through work. At a given moment it happens that a child becomes keenly interested in a piece of work showing it by the expression of his face, by his intense attention, by his perseverance in the same exercise. That child has set foot upon the road leading to discipline. Whatever be his undertaking – an exercise for the senses, an exercise in buttoning up or lacing together, or washing dishes – it is all one and the same.” The Montessori Method


“There will come a day when the directress herself shall be filled with wonder to see that all the children obey her with gentleness and affection, not only ready, but intent, at a sign from her. They will look toward her who has made them live, and will hope and desire to receive from her, new life.” The Montessori Method


“I felt this, intuitively, and believed that not the didactic material, but my voice which called to them, awakened the children, and encouraged them to use the didactic material, and through it, to educate themselves. I was guided in my work by the deep respect which I felt for their misfortune, and by love which these unhappy children know how to awaken in those who are near them.”
The Montessori Method


“Today we hold the pupils in school, restricted by those instruments so degrading to body and spirit, the desk and material prizes and punishments. Our aim in all this is to reduce them to the discipline of immobility and silence, – to lead them, – where? Far too often towards no definite end. Often the education of children consists in pouring into their intelligence the intellectual content of school programmes. And often these programmes have been imposed by law upon the teacher and the child. Ah, before such dense and wilful disregard of the life which is growing within these children, we should hide our heads in shame and cover our guilty faces with our hands! Sergi says truly: “Today an urgent need imposes itself upon society: the reconstruction of methods in education and instruction, and he who fights for this cause fights for human regeneration.”
The Montessori Method


“This idea of the collective ownership of the school is new and very beautiful and profoundly educational. … The mothers may go at any hour of the day to watch, to admire, or to meditate upon the life there. It is in every way a continual stimulus to reflection, and a fount of evident blessing and help to their children. We may say that the mothers adore the “Children’s House,” and the directress. How many delicate and thoughtful attentions these good mothers show the teacher of their little ones! They often leave sweets or flowers upon the sill of the schoolroom window, as a silent token, reverently, almost religiously, given.”
The Montessori Method


“It may be that the life lived by the very poor is a thing which some of you here today have never actually looked upon in all its degradation. … The soul of the people is being set free from the torpor of vice, from the shadows of ignorance. The little children too have a ‘House’ of their own. The new generation goes forward to meet the new era, the time when misery shall no longer be deplored but destroyed. They go to meet the time when the dark dens of vice and wretchedness shall have become things of the past, and when no trace of them shall be found among the living.” … What a change of emotions we should experience and how we should hasten here, as the wise men guided by a dream and star hastened to Bethlehem!”
The Montessori Method


“The enormous majority of citizens are honest without any regard whatever to the threats of the law. The real punishment of normal man is the loss of the consciousness of that individual power and greatness which are the sources of his inner life. A man whom we would consider crowned by happiness and fortune may be suffering from this form of punishment. Far too often man does not see the real punishment which threatens him. And it is just here that education may help.”
The Montessori Method


“No teacher can furnish the child with the agility which he acquires through gymnastic exercises: it is necessary that the pupil perfect himself through his own efforts…; a man is not what he is because of the teacher he has had, but because of what he has done. “
The Montessori Method


“Repetition is the secret to perfection, and this is why the exercises are connected with the common activities of daily life. If a child does not set a table for a group of people who are really going to eat, if he does not have real brushes for cleaning, and real carpets to sweep whenever they are used, if he does not himself have to wash and dry dishes and glasses he will never attain any real ability. And if he does not live a social life based on proper education. He will never attain that graceful naturalness which is so attractive in our children.”

The Discovery of the Child


“It is the child who builds up the man, the child alone. The adult cannot take his place in this work; the exclusion of the adult from the child’s “world” and ”work” is still more evident and more absolute than the exclusion of the child from the work producing the social order superimposed on nature in which the adult reigns. The child’s work belongs to another order and has a wholly different force from the work of the adult. Indeed one might say that the one is opposed to the other. The child’s work is done unconsciously, in abandonment to a mysterious spiritual energy, actively engaged in creation. ”
The Secret of Childhood,


“It is tremendously important that we should understand the spontaneous way in which the child develops himself. We are so anxious to help, to us it seems the burden of growth and development is so great that we must do all we can to make the pathway easy. And so our love may easily overreach itself and by providing too many urges, too many cautions and corrections.”

Maria Montessori Speaks to Parents


“Being active with one’s own hands, having a determined practical aim to reach, is what really gives inner discipline. When the hand perfects itself in a work chosen spontaneously and the will to succeed is born together with the will to overcome difficulties or obstacles; it is then that something which differs from intellectual learning arises. The realisation of one’s own value is born in the consciousness. ”
Childhood to Adolescence


“We must take man himself, take him with patience and confidence, across all the planes of education. We must put everything before him, the school, culture, religion, the world itself. We must help him to develop within himself that which will make him capable of understanding. It is not merely words, it is a labour of education. This will be a preparation for peace – for peace cannot exist without justice and without men endowed with a strong personality and a strong conscience. ” Citizen of the World


“Free activity makes children happy. We can see how happy they are, but it is not the fact that they are happy that is important; the important thing is that a child can construct a man through this free activity. ” The 1946 London Lectures


“If we correct a child we must do so very gently. We must be his interpreter; this must be our first act of charity to the human being. ”
The 1946 London Lectures


“We say that we correct them for their own good, and a great deal of the time we honestly believe it. But it is strange how often what we feel to their good amounts to the same thing as our own comfort. ”
Maria Montessori Speaks to Parents, p. 43


“It is tremendously important that we should understand the spontaneous way in which the child develops himself. We are so anxious to help, to us it seems the burden of growth and development is so great that we must do all we can to make the pathway easy. And so our love may easily overreach itself and by providing too many urges, too many cautions and corrections. ”
Maria Montessori Speaks to Parents, p. 26


“The apparent fatigue of the child between the first and second period of work is interesting; at that moment the aspect of the child is not calm and happy as at the end of the curve; indeed, he shows signs of agitation, moves about, and walks, but does not disturb the others. It may be said that he is in search of the maximum satisfaction for his interest, and is preparing for his ‘great work’. But, on the other hand, when the cycle is completed, the child detaches himself from his internal concentration; refreshed and satisfied, he experiences the higher social impulses, such as desiring to make confidences and to hold intimate communion with other souls. ”
The Advanced Montessori


“Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence. ”
The Child in the Family


“Children have an anxious concern for living beings, and therefore the satisfaction of this instinct fills them with delight. It is therefore easy to interest them in taking care of plants and especially of animals. Nothing awakens foresight in a small child, who lives as a rule for the passing moment and without care for the morrow, so much as this. ”
The Discovery of the Child, p. 73

About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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