As a Montessori mom, I've just found the perfect best friend—a well-informed, articulate "Montessorian, " always ready to give me succinct, detailed advice on how to pull off the best parenting job ever! Well, all right. My new best friend is an invaluable book from the Sandpiper Press:
This little list of inspiring ideas reminds me, in the midst of a full and busy life, what parenting is all about: the children! Who are they? Where are they in their development? We parents easily become so involved in what we are doing for the children or to them, we forget there's a person in there. If, instead, you can "slow down and work at your child's pace" (Tip 25), decisions are simplified and the burden of trying to be the perfect parent is eased. We all want to understand each of our children and serve them well. These pithy tips help us keep the perspective we need to be successful—now that's a gift for both parents and children!
Written in celebration of the Montessori Centenary and compiled from the suggestions of AMI teachers, this book is a great body of wisdom. The numbered tips are organized by age groups (developmental "planes" in Montessori-speak). Read it cover-to-cover and you'll begin to see the common threads of what children need and how to best support those needs both practically and philosophically. Or keep your new "best friend" handy and find support whenever you want sound advice.
As I browsed the book, what really jumped out for me is how often I get busy and distracted and stray from these simple parenting principles. "Include storytelling in your family's daily routine" (Tip 58) is only a little more challenging than watching a movie together—it helps to be reminded just how much that little extra effort is worth! Reach for these core ideas in a moment of weakness and make sure it's an easy resource to find when your real best friend wants some advice from an experienced Montessorian.
—Kelly Griffith Mannion's credentials include a Montessori Primary and a Lower Elementary Credential, as well as a Master's of Education in Early Childhood, Montessori Education. Kelly has worn many Montessori hats, acting at various times as a teacher, administrator, teacher trainer, and board member. Her favorite and most challenging job is Montessori Mom and her current passion is founding a public program, River Montessori Charter School, in Petaluma, CA.
—Originally Published 2009
One Hundred Child Development Tips: Insights and Suggestions from Montessori Teachers, was originally distributed to attendees of the AMI Centenary Celebration in February 2007. To honor the occasion, the observations, thoughts, and insights of Montessori teachers across the U.S. were distilled into 100 parenting Tips based on core Montessori principles. Most tips are followed by a brief overview of related theory and practice; we've reprinted a taste below. It was hard to choose just 10!
Birth to 18 months
Focus on creating a warm and enriching home environment to optimize your child's potential. (Tip 10) Experiences during these years will permanently shape the circuitry of the child's brain and affect his long-term abilities.
Develop consistent daily routines and structure. (Tip 11) This will allow your child to make sense of his new and complicated world.
12 to 18 Months
Avoid interrupting the child when he is focused. (Tip 21) Interruptions teach a child to be distracted.
Create a new level of independence in the home when your child begins to walk. (Tip 22) Enable your child to care for his own needs by showing him in detail how to dress himself, brush his teeth, comb his hair, bathe himself, and set the table.
18 months to 3 years
Slow down and work at your child's pace. (Tip 25) Do not over schedule the day. Permit your child to fully absorb and reflect upon his activities.
Honor your child's work, ability to focus on details, and growing concentration by not correcting or interrupting him. (Tip 29) Doing otherwise creates a dependence on adults, and a loss of confidence in his abililtes.
3 to 6 Years
Be a model of courtesy, acceptance, and kindness toward others. (Tip 46)
Treat errors kindly. (Tip 52)
Assure that your child has some quiet, unscheduled, uninterrupted time. (Tip 60)
6 to 12 Years
Seek to understand your child's developmental changes. (Tip 61)
12 to 18 Years
Provide an emotionally safe home environment where your child feels free to discuss and explore parts of himself without judgment. (Tip 92)
—© 2007 Heather Pedersen; all rights reserved by the author.