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We talk a lot about community at FMS; parent community, school community and the wider community. Beyond being a part of a community, education at FMS is intended to prepare children as responsible, capable contributory community members. We have programs in place to do this for every child, at every stage of the FMS journey!

In Montessori, we provide numerous ways for children to participate as community members.

These include participating in daily routines to care for our surroundings, helping to maintain classrooms and classroom materials, and contributing to decision-making and events within class or school communities.

Children love helping with real and meaningful activities.

In the process of helping, children develop a sense of belonging. This is the start of being engaged in community.

Real work, Real Outcomes

The activities we provide in Montessori environments are real work, rather than something to keep children busy. As such, the outcome of the activities must be clear and necessary. If the plants need water, children can water the plants. If the floor is wet, children can mop the floor. If a table is dirty, children can scrub the table.

Because our young people are learning how they can have an impact on their environment, adults work hard to not redo what children just did. Thus, if the table is still dirty, the adults leave it as is. Perhaps later another child can be invited to clean the table, but the adults refrain from swooping in and cleaning the table afterward.

Types of Activities

In order to determine appropriate activities for the classroom, we observe children and consider what practical maintenance needs to happen each day. If there is an easel with paint, we create a material for washing the easel. If there is an easel with chalk, we offer an activity for washing the chalkboard.

The specific kinds of activities depend upon community norms, the greater culture, the climate, and even the length of the day. Regardless of these variables, the activities always have an intelligent purpose and are part of the everyday, regular part of what happens in the community.

Individual Satisfaction to Community Impact

At first, children will pursue the activities for their own satisfaction. They will clean a table to enjoy the process of creating soapy bubbles and wiping them off the table. Later they will realise how their care of environment benefits everyone. They will want to scrub a table because they see it is dirty and they want it to be clean. Children feel accomplished after this type of work because they love to contribute to the greater good!

See our recent Montessori At Home article for ideas on tasks you can give your children at home to grow their sense of contribution.

To help children develop this awareness and sense of belonging, it is nice to acknowledge something a child has done that day to contribute to the community. However, we must tread lightly in this process so that children maintain a sense of doing the activity for themselves and the community, rather than for adult praise.


Ultimately, care of the environment activities help children learn how to be responsible for their actions.  If a plant needs to be watered, and it isn’t watered, eventually the plant will die. We can offer children the opportunity to water the plant, but if no one is willing, there is a tangible and natural consequence.

Children learn that their actions matter, and they take great pride in being capable contributors. 

Outcomes of contribution

As children internalise the work they do and the benefits beyond themselves, they will start to realise how capable they are. They will put their whole focus into the work and experience great satisfaction in the process of engaging with meaningful work in the community. They will develop a strong sense of belonging, and ultimately flourish into their fullest self.

Building Community at FMS

As children move through the stages of Montessori education, they are presented with more opportunities to help and contribute. Students in primary school (aged 6-9) become involved in decision making for their class community and attend regular ‘community-lunches’ within their class group.

In upper primary school (ages 9-12) FMS children have opportunities to contribute beyond their classroom environment, helping with activities across the wider school and beyond.

These opportunities range from joining a committee to help design a new playground, assisting younger children at school events, to representing our school in the wider community.

These are all stepping-stones that lay a foundation for our students to become responsible, capable and empathetic individuals, ready to contribute to the wider community.

Would you like to know more about community at Montessori? To learn more or join the Forestville Montessori community, reach out here.

Denice Scala

Author Denice Scala

B.A, M.Ed, Dip ED, Dip RSA, Cert. Neuroscience. Principal, Forestville Montessori School. Denice Scala is an executive leader with extensive experience in key strategic roles requiring business transformation and innovation. As a passionate advocate for the power of education to enrich lives, Denice moved from classroom teaching to leadership positions in 1992 and since then has held international in roles in Scotland and Australia as Principal, Head of Junior School, and Head of Learning Support. She has an impressive working knowledge of early learning, primary, middle, and secondary schooling including gifted education and special needs. Her Masters in Gifted Education led her to work extensively to find ways to cater for gifted students. This led to providing professional development opportunities for educators to assist in their understanding of the characteristics of gifted children and the complexities of growing up gifted. Denice’s unparalleled grasp of current educational realities is equally matched by her big picture thinking combined with practical solutions to navigate change. Denice’s passion for Montessori education led her to undertake the AMI Introduction to Adolescents Course, to audit the AMI 6-12 Diploma, and to also currently undertake the AMI School Administration Certificate Course.

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