The Work Cycle

A Montessori school day, from the preschool years to the Intermediate classroom, often begins with a circle time in the classroom. During this time, students consider which tasks they need to begin or complete as part of their independent work time. After general discussions are finished, students are invited to continue independent work, to go to lessons with the directress or director, or to join specialist teachers for French, Art or Music.

The Montessori Work Cycle allows students to develop the skills needed to master task completion and time management. The Work Cycle also provides the opportunity for students to pursue a subject of interest for an uninterrupted period of time. When observing this work cycle, Montessori described a period of sporadic activity while a child may choose a short piece of work or take time to sort through what work is interesting to them in the moment. This period was followed by the child gathering the necessary supplies and then settling into a longer, intensified work period. Dr. Montessori described this as the ‘Great Work’. This work cycle is why the programming is organized around a three hour period and ‘recess’ is not practiced in a Montessori environment. Students are given the chance to have nourishment or drink at any time during the work cycle whenever they feel the need.