10 Secrets of Montessori Education, 9. Normalization, Montessori: Bridging Home and SchoolActually the normal child is one who is precociously intelligent, who has learned to overcome himself and to live in peace, and who prefers a disciplined task to futile idleness. When we see a child in this light, we would more properly call his ‘conversion’ a ‘normalization.’
Maria Montessori uncovered secrets–ten to be exact. Lucky for us, Mary Ellen Maunz, M. Ed., founder and Program Director of Age of Montessori, is willing to share the treasure of information within these secrets, and to explain exactly what they can mean to you and your children. With these ten secrets, you will gain a rich understanding of the framework beneath the Montessori Method. Maria Montessori developed more than a revolutionary educational method; she discovered the true inner workings of the child’s mind. These ten secrets are based on her lifetime of observing children and recognizing what they really need to thrive.
Secret #9 – NormalizationSo what exactly does Montessori mean by “normalization of a child”? Normalization is a calm and centered state of mind that children achieve through intense focus. Maria Montessori discovered that an inclination toward intense concentration and an ability to demonstrate quiet behavior is actually “normal” in young children.
Normalization is a calm and centered state of mind that children achieve through intense focus.
I know, I know, you’re thinking: not my child. And believe me, we all understand. Most of us think of young children as rambunctious, energetic, mess-making machines. The words “calm” and “toddler” just don’t seem to fit right together. And here’s a surprise: Maria Montessori thought the same thing; that is, until she put aside her preconceived notions and allowed the children to show her what they could do. Then she observed that children, when given the freedom to choose their own lessons from a carefully-prepared environment [for more about the prepared environment, click here] will become calm and completely engrossed in their lesson. They will often repeat the lesson over and over, until they satisfy some internal need for understanding. They will focus, concentrate, and absorb information, freely and without any need for external motivation.
“It is a question of rapid, and at times, almost instantaneous change that comes from the same source. I would not be able to site a single example of a conversion (normalization) taking place without an interesting task that concentrates the child’s activities…” ~Dr. Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori realized something no one had even considered before: this calm, centered, and content child was not the exception, but rather the true nature of all children. That is why she saw it as the new “normal.” In fact, that restless disruptive child we are so accustomed to is actually the child whose needs are not being met.
How to get to “Normalization?”Whether in the home or in school, children need access to activities or lessons that meet their current developmental needs.
So the question becomes, how do we–as parents and educators–find ways to meet the child’s needs? How do we help our children achieve this “normalized” state? After all, that is clearly the win-win situation for all involved.
Maria Montessori discovered that an inclination toward intense concentration and an ability to demonstrate quiet behavior is actually “normal” in young children.
Whether in the home or in school, children need access to activities or lessons that meet their current developmental needs. And they need the freedom to be able to choose what their internal compass is pointing them toward. [For more about freedom of choice, click here.] Parents and teachers can best fulfill the child’s needs through keen observation and a carefully-prepared environment. When the child does find the right lesson at the right time, you will see he is transformed. This transformation brings about the desire to work, ability to concentrate, a feeling of calm, satisfaction, and even great joy.
“It is through appropriate work and activities that the character of the child is transformed. Work influences his development in the same way that food revives the vigor of a starving man. We observe that a child occupied with matters that awaken his interest seems to blossom, to expand, evincing undreamed-of character traits; his abilities give him great satisfaction, and he smiles with a sweet and joyous smile.” ~Dr. Maria Montessori
It has been very interesting for me to see 1st hand the differences between in home childcare and the Montessori school setting. I had 2 in home preschools. One was in Virginia Beach and then another in Georgia. Even between the 2, there were a lot of differences. After moving to Georgia I had learned a lot from my experience in Virginia and I had also by this point learned about the Montessori schools. When I moved to Georgia I was fascinated to watch the Montessori concepts play out. Because I dealt with using Montessori ideas (though I didn’t know half), and I am and was the teacher in both of the environments, I don’t see as many differences as there may actually be. The most difficult transition for me into the classroom setting is that it loses a little of the at home comfort for the children, but it seems that the positives much out weigh this. Because I am aware of this, I do try to bring some of the soothing at home aspects into the classroom but it can be a challenge. Being in a more structured school environment is good for the kids. They know the rules and what is expected and not accepted here. They see the older children learning and know that this is not just for children their age and they are becoming better prepared for school. It also seems easier for the children to become use to the idea of independence. I think the best part is the structure for the teacher. You are not a babysitting, which I personally never wanted to be. I loved teaching and playing with the children, but it was still hard to stay structured and on track, so I can imagine if I thought differently how unstructured it could have been. Sometimes I would honestly wake up 5 min. before the kids were to arrive and start breakfast. This seems fine but it put me at a slow pace in the morning, and in the morning was usually when the children seemed to be the most alert and ready for the day. I really like that I am up and going well before my class arrives. Also, I would have loved to have all the materials that a school has, but my finances would have never allowed for it. Having the right materials may be more important than you think, especially for early learning, visual and hands on. Here at the school we have more than adequate materials. The children are exposed to many different ideas. The teachers, director, and parents work together to create an all around program for the children. One person will not be able to think of all the ideas or notice all the needs that a group working together will achieve. One more difference I want to point out is that the school is established. Most in home daycares last less than 6 months. I learned this when I was going to my training to become licensed and it was shocking. The gentleman told us this and asked us all to make sure this is what we wanted to do. He told us the effects it can have on children going from one in home to another and even another after closing. By the time the training was even over, it seemed like half the class had changed their mind. That can be upsetting for a child. There are great in home schools out there, and I for one believe it can be a great opportunity for a child to grow. It may take a lot of research and patience to find the right one, but a loving home can be so touching in a child’s life. There are many aspects to consider with in home and school. This is all just my opinion and my observations over the years. Thanks