Authentic Montessori from the Ground Up – Colombia 2022

It is so rewarding to share what I have seen here during these days. I often tell people, “Authentic Montessori can exist without materials, but not without the very best of teachers and a deep understanding of Montessori.”


The picture here shows an amazing practical life task, a seven-year-old saddling his horse at the end of the day at the Montessori school in Timbio, Colombia. Think of the executive functions (the most important predictor in success in life) being strengthened with this work: planning, organization initiating work, patience, logical sequence, self-control, perseverance, solving problems, working memory . . . And the feelings of the child as he engages in real work that he sees being done around him every day, and can do largely on his own.



At the end of the day at the Timbio school the students presented their poetry and song. The young boy who loved his horse above all asked if he could sing his song abroad his horse. The lyrics cannot be repeated here but they are from one of the favorite songs of the “Jinete,” the traditional paso fino horse riders.

The school was founded 1-1/2 years ago, two simple classrooms on a large cattle ranch. The food for the ranch hands is cooked over eucalyptus and pine wood gathered from the hundreds of acres of land. At the moment, there are 18 local children in one primary and one elementary class. There are chickens and sheep wandering freely, and horses and cows always close to the children on this working ranch.

While I was there a mother and her young child drove up on a motorcycle, the mode of transportation of many families in all of these schools. She had been checking in periodically to find out when her daughter would be old enough to enter the school. When she found that I was there she asked to have out picture taken together. Why? Because when her daughter was a baby she found the Spanish translation of my book “The Joyful Child: Montessori, Global Wisdom for Birth to Three” on Amazon, “El Nino Alegre”, ordered it, and raised her daughter from the book. I am sure this little girl will contribute a lot to the class.

The second picture is of Hugo, the owner of the ranch. The little “horse boy” above is his nephew and Hugo loves what is happening with all of the children at the Timbio school that he took us up on the part of the ranch where the cattle graze and one can see two ranges of the Andes mountains. This is where he hopes someday to build an Erdkinder, or farm school for the school children as they grow.


On the final gathering at the Tibio school one of the parents, a medical doctor asked about ADHD and Montessori, for some advice to give to patients. We were very happy to be able to share two resources.

(1) “ADHD a Case Study” from 1996, shared by many Montessori schools over the years.

CLICK HERE: Montessori and ADHD

“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and the Support of the Prepared Environment, by Megan Trezise, M.Ed.

This up-to-date research on this subject carried out by an AMI teacher trainer, and published in the AMI Journal



An even newer school exists not so far away, still in the foothills of the Andes Mountains in the famous “White City” of Popayan, Colombia. You can see the school, in a traditional hacienda being rented, through the bamboo forest. And the hacienda gardener is now working with the children.

Because the older children were studying the typical traditional foods of Colombia, some of the younger ones brought be samples to taste. Here we have empanadas, obleas, and bocadillo.

Here you see two students practicing (we arrived early) for a presentation they were planning to give to us. I am always recommending that schools get rid of prepared sheets, worksheets to color in (such as parts of the flower, etc.) and instead provide plain white paper because children can draw far more interesting art than we adults could provide for them. It was so nice to see their own art for the presentation, and to experience there passionate and interesting sharing of the culture of Colombia with no help from written text.

One of the elementary students sang a beautiful song “Para la Guerra Nada” (for the war nothing) inspired by the famous Colombian musician, Martha Gomez, with such passion that at the end the rest of the students joined in.

At the end of my time with these two “mountain schools” the staff from both Popayan and Timbio gathered for a feed-back session. I started by showing a bit of a video I made years after being in Japan for the first AMI 0-3 course. The Timbio teachers and I watched it for about 15 minutes, then the staff from the Popayan school arrived so I asked the indigenous teacher pictured above to share what they had learned. I was astounded! He spoke of respecting the child’s choice, adults as models, respecting concentration, putting work away, and so much more. I did not ask my wonderful friend Lyda Franky to translate because I did not want to interrupt his passionate flow of essential Montessori concepts.

The last night in the mountains, since I discovered a vegetarian restaurant very close to the hotel where we were staying in the White City, three of the young people, who met at university and wanted to help the world, the planed, gather for our meal. The focus and determination and hard work of these young people is very inspired for a person like me, in the Montessori field for over fifty years now.

The picture of me “resting,” in a hammock at the Timbio school, is very rare, which is why someone took the picture.


Back down the mountain to the Cauca Valley the third school, also relatively recent, is also held in a rented traditional hacienda. An Infant Community, Primary Class, and Elementary class. As in the mountain schools one is struck by the calmness, the gentleness of the adults, and the thirst for knowledge.

Often I talk about, when thinking about the support of concentration in the children, the importance of what is on a classroom wall. Everything should be “art” and hung at a child’s eye level. It should represent local culture such as clothing, houses, transportation, plants, and animals (such as the lizard) or other interesting art. What a surprise it was to see reproductions of two of my own paintings on the wall at this school!

CALI SCHOOL – Colegio Bilingüe Montessori Cali

Even though this, the original of the four schools in this blog post, is in a city, the love and care for nature—iguanas, horses and other animals, and plants—is evident. This is my fourth visit to the oldest Montessori in this part of the world. The other three schools in this blog post are all outgrowths from the Cali school.

It is always inspiring to see a child’s elementary class journal with beautifully crafted pages, creating journals to keep throughout life.

More from my first trip to the Cali school here:


At the end of my time observing and consulting with the Cali school we all gathered, 160 staff, including the gardener, the cook, everyone part of this work for the child. I always suggest that the audience is this broad because it is necessary to widen the number of people who understand this work.

Tomorrow (October 11, 2022) we leave Cali. I will give a talk at a new school just beginning in Barranquilla, and then at the AMI Congress for Colombia in Cartagena. And then on to speak in Lima, Peru.


Montessori training is both expensive, academically challenging, and time-consuming, but very worth it. And it is the goal, of all of the four schools I have worked with during this trip, is to have AMI diploma holders in charge of their own classes. In the meantime, children all over the world are hungering to benefit from authentic Montessori practice.

Sometimes people become impatient and frustrated and take other, shorter, or online non-AMI training. Many follow blogs, YouTube and other internet sources for information. For over 50 years in over 30 countries I have seen the sad results in this path.

Here at these schools in Colombia I see a focus that is wise – to concentrate on the essence of Montessori, protecting concentration, respected choice of work, helping and teaching each other, real helpful “practical life” work, and a deep and passionate focus on connection with the earth and work to protect it and benefiting from the wisdom of indigenous cultures. And gradually they are learning the correct use of the didactic Montessori materials.


In order to make my own wealth of experience, based on the guidance of my AMI 0-3, 3-6, 6-12 teacher trainers, more available to those interested in the essence of Montessori practice, there is now a project here to have more of my books translated into Spanish and made available as e-books at a very low price in order to reach as many people as possible.

Since “The Universal Child, Guided by Nature” and “The Joyful Child” are already translated, the choices to begin this new project are: “Aid to Life”, “The Red Corolla”, and “Please Help Me Do It Myself.” You can see more about these choices here:




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And I thank you.

October 10, 2022

3 thoughts on “Authentic Montessori from the Ground Up – Colombia 2022

  1. Patricia D. Craft-Heuer October 10, 2022 / 6:46 pm

    Thank you for sharing this experiece. It is so valuable to see the practical life of different cultures to remind us of the true meaning of Montessori education.

  2. Halim Morales Franky October 11, 2022 / 5:13 pm

    Thank you for being you in the most humble and beautiful way. We are inspired by working with Children allowing ourselves to from with them understanding Montessori’s Philosophies. Thank for for letting us listen from your heart words all the wisdom you shared with us. Our memories will be linked for ever. We wish all the knowledge we trade can lead us to a future for a peaceful humanity.

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