The Montessori method is marked by sincere respect for the child. There are definitely specific materials and techniques that are a distinct part of what happens in Montessori environments. But, at the heart of Montessori is this profound respect for the child. Seeing our children through a Montessori lens gives us the foundation to helping them learn with joy and become their highest selves with ease. This simple shift in how we see the child can also bring deeper satisfaction and meaning to the ongoing work of parenting. When we step into Montessori from this essential point first, we gain a rich and supportive foundation that supports the other details of the Montessori practices.
Here are a few aspects of the Montessori way of seeing the child that you can start trying on right away.
Even the Smallest of Babies are Doing Incredible Work
Our little ones' behavior often confuses or frustrates us. My toddler insists on turning on each light switch and fan he encounters. Many times a day. Many, many times a day. He can spend hours in the car turning the hazards on and off again. This is tedious for me, but it is riveting for him. With Montessori eyes, I can see that there is something he is learning with this activity. This helps me be patient and give him time to do that work. Better, I can find a way for him to explore this idea of off and on, cause and effect, without me holding him in mid air or sitting in the hot car.
When we see our children’s actions and questions as part of the incredible work they are doing - we can engage in the art of following the child and support their efforts. “If the child is allowed to use his spontaneous activity in a tranquil environment without interference or unasked for help, he is indeed engaged in a most important work: he is building the man he will one day be. ” Montessori
Each Child has Within them the Blueprint for their Own Ideal Development
Montessori describes each little one having an “inner guide” that compels the child/baby towards activities and experiences that are essential for their own unique development. With this idea in mind, I can know that my son’s insistence on exploring “on and off” switches is not only part of every toddler’s development. His particular attraction to this work is something he is being called to from deep within him. What he is discovering there and how that will affect him later in life, I don’t know. But this Montessori idea gives me a deeper reverence for the work he is doing. It gives me the inspiration I need to come along beside him and support his exploration.
Children Have the Power to Uplift Us
“It is clear that nature includes among the missions she has entrusted to the child, the mission of arousing us adults to reach a higher level. The children take us to a higher plan of the spirit and material problems are thereby solved.” This is my favorite Montessori quote. I remember this when my child is pushing all my buttons and I am trying hard to stay calm and loving. This quote reminds me that my child is giving me what I need to become better at staying calm and loving in challenging situations. I often hear parents tell me that their child inspired them to drop a negative habit and pick up a healthier way of being in the world. Parenting is a transformative process. If we open to the gift of parenting then we find ourselves changed for the better through the work we do to care for our children and families.
Children Have a Vital Role in our World.
Maria Montessori is credited with creating the Montessori method. “It is not true,” says Dr. Montessori, “that I invented what is called the Montessori Method. I have studied the child, I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it, and that is what is called the Montessori Method.” She was Italy’s first female Doctor, and through the twists and turns of her life she ended up in Education, over 100 years ago. She brought to her work the eye of a scientist, and based her methods on what she observed rather than on educational practices or beliefs of her day.
Montessori believed children held an incredibly important role for our world. On a grand scale, she believed that the education of young children held the key to world peace. She says that “Education is the best weapon for peace.” and that “The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.” Parenting is part of a child’s education! You are your child’s first teachers. And parenting can sometimes feel like a job that has no impact outside your own home. Montessori tells us that, from her scientific study, we couldn’t be more wrong. Being with children in a respectful, refined way lays the groundwork, within us and our children, for a world that is more just, kind and in harmony with the earth.