THE MONTESSORI PARENT
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
accept the Montessori viewpoint of parenthood, you may want to send
your child to a Montessori school to complement your approach to him
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”