THE MONTESSORI PARENT

Well done, the Montessori education leads to confident and self-disciplined children who acquire a sound background for academic and creative skill and interests.  IS IT FOR YOU?

 

The question is purposely stated: Is it for you? And not:  Is it for your child? The philosophy and methods Maria Montessori developed are based on universal laws of child growth and can certainly be helpful to your child.  Whether Montessori will be helpful you, however is another question, for the answer depends upon your conception of your function as a parent.  Montessori viewed parents as guardians, not as creators, for it is the child who must create himself. 

 

He is given special powers for this task which the parents must see to understand and collaborate with.  How are they to do this? First they must develop their innate capacity to observe, enjoy and empathise with their young.  On a practical level, this means a frequent willingness to suspend the adult’s achievement-oriented view of life and to adopt the much slower pace of the child, a difficult thing to do!

 

Secondly, it means preparing a home environment in which the needs of the child are met. This means that as a tiny baby the child must be accepted into the social life of the family and not isolated in a nursery, where his need to absorb the world around him is thwarted.  As he grows, his need to crawl and eventually to walk must be accepted and encouraged. 

 

Montessori did not believe the extensive use of playpens, cribs and pushchairs is necessary.  Rooms can be made safe for toddlers; low beds are much safer that cribs, which the adventurous child sooner or later climbs out of.  Walks can be set at a child’s pace.

 

As the child grows he wants to touch and handle the same objects in the environment he sees others using.  The parent must encourage this, for it is the child’s innate understanding that he must eventually take his place in the world as an adult that compels him to this behaviour.  Inevitably, the child will want to explore things in the environment which belong to others.

 

Where possible, a substitution should be made.  For example, it is not mother’s pen but one like it of his own the child wishes for.  Because “don’t touch” is synonymous with “don’t learn” for the young child, it should be saved for only those situations where there is no other resource. 

 

There is no question here of abuse however, of either material things or the rights of others.  The child has no way of developing respect for his environment and the people within it if appropriate limits are not set. The parent must so arrange the home that he helps the child master his environment and becomes increasingly independent of the parent’s help.  The child’s room should be simple and orderly.  Everything in it should be appropriate for his size and ability.  Low shelves with a few well-chosen toys. 

 

A low table with brush and comb, mirror, low hooks to put his clothes on – the latter to be chosen for the ease with which he can get in and out of them.  An accessible place to put his soiled clothes, hang up his towel etc.It is the child’s instinct and desire for work and serious accomplishment that enables him to develop a healthy self-concept and realistic self-esteem. 

 

Therefore, he should be allowed to observe and participate in his parent’s activities at the kitchen sink or garage workbench. An appropriate stool helps him into the adult’s world, and the parent has only to slow his pace and expectations for the child to join him in making his own sandwich or birdhouse. 

 

An over-abundance of toys and many hours of television rob the child of his opportunity for those accomplishments and create an unnatural passivity and apathy toward life.

If you accept the Montessori viewpoint of parenthood, you may want to send your child to a Montessori school to complement your approach to him at home.

 

“A child’s work is to create the man he is to become.  An adult works to perfect the environment but a child works to perfect himself” 

Dr Maria Montessori

 
 

 

 

 

Copyright: HIGH HOPES MONTESSORI 2012

 

 

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