10 fundamentals of Montessori
Updated: Mar 4
These are the 10 fundamentals of Montessori as outline by Maria Montessori herself for the guides, parents and anyone working with the child! These will help ground you in your role as their guide, and help remind you of the important parts of Montessori every single day.
#1 Never touch the child unless invited by him (in some form or the other).
This is so important. Recently there has been a shift in parent mentality towards consent and children and I think it's very important to respect the child who doesn't was to be touched. Instead of "Give Nanny a kiss goodbye" "Give me a cuddle" its "Would you like to give Nanny a kiss goodbye" "Can I cuddle you?" and the critical part here, is to respect when the child says NO! Children need to learn when they say no and don't give their consent it should be respected. In turn they will have this same respect for others.
#2 Never speak ill of the child in his presence or absence.
This comes down to a crucial element of Montessori which is to respect the child. Also to see them as always good children. There are no bad children, there are undesirable behaviours, qualities or moments but the child is always GOOD. As a parent, this is tough! Not that I completely talk bad of my son obviously, but sometimes I just need to vent you know? I try my best to do it when Jax isn't awake but such is life. I keep trying and that's good enough!
#3 Concentrate on strengthening and helping the development of what is good in the child that its presence so it may leave less and less space for evil.
This one speaks to me! As I said in #2 the child is ALWAYS good. But there are many cases of a childs interests and potentials being squashed, then later in life it comes out in a negative way. I mean who knows what would of happened if Hitler went to art school? We will never know, but it's definitely up for debate that had he been able to pursue that fully, he wouldn't of had time or space within his soul for the evil that inevitably came.
#4 Be active in preparing the environment. Take meticulous and constant care of it. Help the child establish constructive relations with it. Show the proper place where the means of development are kept and demonstrate their proper use.
Preparation of the environment is a key principle in Montessori, and for good reason. An uncluttered, prepared environment helps the child to learn, concentrate, and succeed much more than if it were a total mess. It's also important for everyone that things be in order and in the right place for all the children in the environment to be able to seek out their chosen activity and do it fully with independence and without disruption. There's a place for everything, and everything in it's place.
#5 Be ever ready to answer the call of the child who stands in need of you, and always listen and respond to the child who appeals to you.
As much as independence is encouraged, sometimes the children just need your support and guidance, that is after all our role to the child. If a child is choosing you out of everyone in a room to talk to, ask for help or just give you their time. You should always respond positively. Children NEED that, and they need to know that you will always be there to listen, have interest in their works and support them whole heartedly.
#6 Respect the child who makes a mistake and can then or later correct himself, but stop firmly and immediately any misuse of the environment and any action which endangers the child, his development or others.
This is very good one to always come back to when you're not sure if discipline or correction is really needed. Bottom line is if no one is being hurt, and the environment is being respected you don't need to jump in straight away. It's also important to remember that the mistakes the children make, is for them to learn. Maybe they haven't found exactly how to stack that tower properly yet, but they've found 20 ways that don't work and they will eventually fine the way that works. You may need to guide him at some point, but let him try first!
#7 Respect the child who takes rest or watches others working or ponders over what he himself has done or will do. Neither call him nor force him to other forms of activity.
I really like this one because I think to often we force children into uncomfortable situations purely because other children run into them. Everyone is different and I myself am an observer. I sit back and work things and people out before I jump in. Which means often new people see me as rude, or unsociable. Where as actually I'm just making my own observations before I jump in. Now I can articulate this to you, a child cannot. It is also critical for a childs sense of self to have their own thoughts in his head and ponder his options to overcome his boredom or lack of interest. It is soul forming brain work!
#8 Help those who are in search of activity and cannot find it.
I know you're thinking thats a huge contradiction to #7, but it's not. You need to first observe the child to see if they are themselves observing, or problem solving for themselves or they need some guidance. A child should always be engaged in an activity weather it be observing another child or shelf work or otherwise, but if they need help with finding an activity because they are confused, overwhelmed or just not able to manage by themselves yet, we should help. Not force, just help.
#9 Be untiring in repeating presentations to the child who refused them earlier, in helping the child acquire what is not yet his own and overcome imperfections. Do this by animating the environment with care, with restraint and silence, with mild words and loving presence. Make your ready presence felt to the child who searches and hide from the child who has found.
This one explains itself honestly, but it's one we all need to hear. Because we've all been asked to read the book for 20th time or play that game AGAIN and sometimes we just don't want to. But if you can step back and see the child is learning, gaining knowledge, developing something within himself that is important for his body, mind or soul then we can have that extra motivation to stay present and available to them, always.
#10 Always treat the child with the best of good manners and offer him the best you have in yourself and at your disposal.
THIS. 100 percent THIS. It's fact that as parents and caregivers, we often give so much of ourselves we have nothing left at the end of the day. But we need to take care of ourselves, fill up our buckets, so that tomorrow, we can do it again. Children will pick up on our manners, attitude, body language and generally the way we act towards them and it should always be the absolute best we can give them at any given time. Importantly, remember "at your disposal" Sometimes this isn't going to be at your disposal and that's okay. Just keep trying.
I would hope you bookmark this so when you are lost, needing guidance or just some reassurance of yourself you can always come back and remember that despite everything else, these are the fundamental "rules" of yourself within the childs presence and environment. We are not perfect, and we will not always acheive these. But as long as we keep trying and learning ways to better ourselves and the environment for the children, we are going in the right direction.
I believe Montessori is for everyone, I want to help everyone bring a little more Montessori into their homes and lives.
Montessoraus Mama. X