Thursday, March 29, 2012

Montessori Parenting, A Book Review

A few years ago, I had the chance to meet the 2011 American Montessori Society's Living Legend, Sonnie McFarland, at a conference.  It was my first time meeting her, and she hugged me like a friend.  She was giving a talk related to her other book, Honoring The Light Of The Child.  When I heard that she later wrote a book that pertained to my life so specifically, I just had to contact her.  She send me the book just in time for my recovery from hernia repair surgery, and it was a blessing in many directions.  On my spring break from school, I read this book front to back.  I had dog-eared nearly every other page, to remind myself later to discuss a quote or idea with my husband or to share some tidbits with the readers of this little blog.



First, I'd like to say that this book, entitled Montessori Parenting:  Unveiling The Authentic Self, speaks to the philosophy of Dr. Montessori within parenting style, this is not a book about Montessori Materials for parents. The world is rich with books and blogs about materials.  However, anyone who studies the method knows that philosophy is the backbone of Montessori.  In the book, she describes each Montessori-inspired parenting tool within the chapter, then summarizes next steps and follow through for parents end of each chapter.  So many parenting books give you tools, but leave you wondering what your next steps will be.  If you have the chance to read this book, you'll see how easy it is to keep yourself present and ready in your parenting by journaling and asking yourself questions about what is happening in your home.  I have found myself more reflective and calm since re-starting my mom journal.

Who should read this book?  Parents of children enrolled in a Montessori School, Montessori Homeschoolers, Attachment Parents, expectant parents, or parents who wonder about the work of Dr. Montessori in relation to parenting.  So, basically-  if you read this blog- you probably want this book.

One unexpected happening occured while I was reading this book.  I'd read a quote of Dr. Montessori, and then run to my bookshelf to re-read some of her writings from a parental perspective.  I must have read The Absorbent Mind and The Discovery Of The Child a million times over the past 10 years, but this book got me thinking in a Mommy sort of way.  It was special, I was enlightened and re-charged.

Being a Mom and also a Montessori teacher, a few things about this book felt like they were written just for me to hear.  Here is a list of some things that I highlighted, dog-eared, and underlined:

1. Chapter One.  It's exactly what I want to say when people ask me to tell them more about Montessori.  It is a concise, itemized, and sums up Dr. Montessori's life and her findings.

2.  The Authentic Self, for parents and child.  The book outlines how to find your own authenticity, and to aid your child's.  That piece is a priceless tool, considering all a Montessori Parent wants is to 'follow the child'.

3.  Creating the home environment:  She describes the hows and whys of your home environment.  It is so similar to the findings from my thesis, I nearly ran around the house-  yelling,  YES!
"Scientific observation then has established that education is not what the teacher gives;  education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual. and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment."  - Dr. Maria Montessori

4.  Identify your parenting style.  Montessori is not permissive parenting.  Follow your child within limits, and with love.

5.  I adored all of the big names used and quoted in this book.  While studying Psychology and education over the years, I have collected some favorites.  I ended up re-reading some Piaget, Maslow, and Jung once I was finished with Montessori Parenting.

Bravo, Sonnie and Jim McFarland!!!!