Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Montessori Values Explained: The Importance of Tone and Voice Level in the Prepared Environment

NAMC montessori explained importance of tone of voice level mother and child
A few years ago, my family and I were fortunate to spend the Christmas holiday at Disneyworld, ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’. Sadly, for many children, it was not a happy place. Time and time again I heard parents yelling, shouting, and even screaming at their children. What should have been a magical time was indelibly etched into their memories of one of pain, shame, and humiliation.

Children are tender creatures. They are acutely sensitive to the world around them and are much more apt to pick up on how words are said rather than the words themselves. They hate to be shouted at and even if the words are well intended, it is the volume of the message that they hear. One only need witness a cringing child to know that voices raised in frustration or anger can do as much emotional harm as a raised hand inflicts physical pain.

The expectation in the Montessori environment is to speak in a quiet, respectful voice at all times. Using a quiet voice models appropriate inside voice level, limiting the noise level of the Montessori classroom as well as provides a quiet working environment that allows focus and concentration to be on the works.

Montessori Values Explained: The Importance of Tone and Voice Level in the Prepared Environment

It also helps encourage good listening skills. Montessori students come to us assailed by noise – television, computer and video games, and other people. Hearing a calm, quiet voice is effective in getting students’ attention because they are not used to it. At first, the Montessori student attends because of the novelty of it, but later it is understood that this is an appropriate and respectful means of communicating. Usually, being whispered at catches a student’s attention, and therefore he automatically redirects his attention away from inappropriate activity or behavior onto what the Montessori teacher is saying.
NAMC montessori explained importance of tone of voice level teacher and student
The tone of your voice is just as important as the volume. Students are much more likely to listen to a voice that sounds warm and encouraging than to one that sounds harsh and judgmental. A caring and inviting tone of voice communicates our desire to have an atmosphere of acceptance, love, and respect.

It’s not so much what you say
As the manner in which you say it;
It’s not so much the language you use
As the tone in which you convey it;
Come here!” I sharply said,
And the child cowered and wept.
“Come here”, I said -
He looked and smiled
And straight to my lap he crept.
Words may be mild and fair
And the tone may pierce like a dart;
Words may be soft as the summer air
But the tone may break my heart;
For words come from the mind
Grow by study and art –
But tone leaps from the inner self
Revealing the state of the heart.
Whether you know it or not,
Whether you mean or care,
Gentleness, kindness, love and hate,
Envy, anger, are there.
Then, would you quarrels avoid
And peace and love rejoice?
Keep anger not only out of your words –
Keep it out of your voice.
~Author Unknown
Related NAMC Blogs:
The NAMC Classroom Guides offer more helpful information on communication in the Montessori environment.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, February 16, 2010.


  1. This is a very good point. It’s interesting that a teacher whispering with non-contagious laryngitis will often gain the children’s attention the easiest!


Have questions or comments? Let us know what you thought about this article!

We appreciate feedback and love to discuss with our readers further.

NAMC Blog Inquiries Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Search the NAMC Montessori Teacher Training Blog

Are you interested in reading back through NAMC's blog articles from years gone by, or for more information on a specific topic?

Browse a select list of our most popular categories below; by clicking on one, you will see every article posted under that topic since 2007. You may also use the lower archive menu to select a year and month, displaying all blog posts in the chosen time frame.

If you are seeking a range of information on a certain topic or idea, try this search box for site-wide keyword results.

Choose From a List of Popular Article Topics

NAMC Montessori Series

Montessori Philosophy and Methodology

Montessori Classroom Management

The School Year

Montessori Materials

Montessori Curriculum

Montessori Infant/Toddler (0–3) Program

Montessori Early Childhood (3–6) Program

Montessori Elementary (6–12) Programs

What is Montessori?

Search Archives for Montessori Blog Posts by Date

Thank you to the NAMC Montessori community!

This year marks NAMC’s 20th anniversary of providing quality Montessori distance training and curriculum development to Montessorians around the globe. Since we began in 1996, we have grown to build a fantastic community of students, graduates, and schools in over 120 countries. We are grateful for your continued support and dedication to furthering the reach and success of the Montessori method. Thank you for sharing this amazing milestone with us!