Why have Work Plans in Elementary?

Why do Montessori children have work plans? 

To aid in the development of responsibility. 

To aid the child in going deeper with their work. 

If the work plans you are thinking of are going to minimize a child's depth and not aid in the development of responsibility - you're thinking of work plans that probably "dictate" rather than guide what is already in the child. As a primary child "plans" his day in his head, an elementary child plans his day, his week and eventually his month both in his head and on paper. So he is making a visual plan of what is in his mind - in a way that the adult can guide him in areas of weakness and further develop areas of strength.

It becomes a contract - with the teacher, yes, but MOST importantly: with himself. He is committing to following through on his plan that HE developed with the adult to aid him in constructing himself.

Click here for additional Montessori Nuggets on work plans.

Benefit to a properly constructed work plan: the child will more effectively see the results of procrastination - or over-planning - helping him set realistic goals to achieve high standards.

And the adult can help guide him away from any developing bad habits - just as we do at toddler and primary where we nix any bad behaviors in the bud before they become a habit. Now that the child's sense of organization is internalized, we need this external visual to aid us the adults in guiding the child's proper habit-formations.

an early Montessori-homeschool work plan


  1. I still feel like a newbie with Montessori, but organically developed a Montessori-ish work chart for my son's homeschool. We divide the day into subjects (including exercise & practical life stuff), then he can choose topics from each, such as math games, handwriting, science discovery, free sketch art, etc. What I find however, is that although he has freedom to choose from each, I feel his choices are so varied, that by the time he gets around the full rotation, it's been a while before he touches on any particular topic. I'd like him to focus more on particular skills for an extended time, but also worry about him neglecting other areas. I probably have to trust the child (he just turned 7) more but it's hard sometimes, especially when he'd prefer to play all day!

    1. You have touched on an area that makes work plans an uncomfortable topic for many people: on the one hand we want the children to follow their interests and have time to go deep; on the other hand we are pulled by this "need" for repetition to help things stick. And we definitely want the children to treat it like a check-list.

      What I am personally coming to more and more is that if a study or an experience is *truly* deep, a quick review down the road brings it all back - especially if it is something that has daily "reminders" (without being a full review).

      For example, my son delved into fractions for several months. He loved working with fractions; then he hit a brick wall. He was done and on to something else. We didn't officially do any review work with fractions for 3 years (meaning we actually started the elementary fractions quite a bit "late") ---- but we did have fractions when measuring things for recipes (I have a glass 1-cup measuring cup, as well as a 2-cup measuring cup --- great for fractions!) and I would slip in fraction vocabulary here and there as appropriate (even when talking about money, but especially measuring things). So when he came back around to the elementary level fractions, he reviewed in a matter of minutes and took off running through the elementary album pages.

      Use the vocabulary learned, maintain some of the experience (keeping it fresh in the child's mind in a non-chalant way), and you won't need to have daily official review, thus freeing up time for current interests.

      Utilize the work plan to focus on those interests and have a better way of tracking what topics perhaps we should come back to because they've not been touched in a while - or to explore a particular pattern of interests that might be a clue to an upcoming interest.


    2. Updating my response to clarify a TYPO - we do NOT want the children to treat it like a checklist! Oops! Sorry about that!