Dr. Maria Montessori’s Birthday is August 31st, so today, as a tribute, I am writing a post about my favorite Montessori books.
“The child has a different relation to his environment from ours… the child absorbs it. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul. He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes see and his ears hear.” (Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p.56). So, creating a nourishing and sufficiently stimulating environment without the burden of overstimulation is a key to nurturing the love of learning. Below, I will summarize books which have touched my heart. I will present them by age first (whether you have an infant or a three-year-old toddler), as well as thereafter, I will list books which will give you an overview on how to start Montessori at home regardless of your child’s age.
Dr. Montessori believed that children have the world of their own with specific rules and that adults should not interfere. She trusted that a child’s world is a better world and that adults should learn from children instead of forcing children into adult ways of thinking. “Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future… Within the child lies the fate of the future!” ~ is a famous quote from
- Infant ~ Understanding the Human Being: The Importance of the First Three Years of Life by Silvana Montanaro is my absolute favorite book if you are pregnant or have an infant and you would like to learn about the beauty of Montessori philosophy. Silvana Quattrocchi Montanaro, M.D., is a director of the Assistants to Infancy Training Program at the Association Montessori Internationale in Rome, Denver, Mexico, and London, and her eloquent verse will absolutely make you fall in love with the Montessori method.
- Birth – 3 YO ~ Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three ~ is my second absolute favorite book! I have underlined it, took notes and highlighted the entire book! I learned how to set up mobiles to the importance of a floor bed and a floor mirror, to a suggestion to start Practical Life Activities as 15 months! The book also has a wealth of pertinent information on planes of development. (Read details here.) Based on Dr. Maria Montessori’s instructions for raising infants, this comprehensive exploration of the first three years incorporates the furnishings and tools she created for the care and comfort of babies. From the design of the baby’s bedroom to the child-sized kitchen table, from diet and food preparation to clothing and movement, the authors provide guidance for the establishment of a beautiful and serviceable environment for babies and very young children. They introduce concepts and tasks, taking into account children’s’ ”sensitive periods” for learning such skills as dressing themselves, food preparation, and toilet training. If you can only buy one Montessori book ~ this is a must-have!
- Birth – 3 YO ~ The Joyful Child: Montessori, Global Wisdom for Birth to Three by Susan Stephenson is a fantastic book and a great resource for children birth till three. The first three years of life are too important for experiments, and the Montessori guidelines presented in this book have proved true all over the world for over 100 years. There are over 180 black and white pictures from the author’s work around the world with children from birth to three years of age. “The Joyful Child” is used in Montessori teacher training centers, middle school human development classes, birth preparation classes, and it is of interest to anyone studying education and child development.
- Age 3 – 12 YO ~ Child of the World: Montessori, Global Education for Age 3-12+ by Susan Stephenson presents Montessori principles in clear and eloquent prose and is a wonderful resource for parents seeking advice on raising older children (3 -12 yo).
- Elementary ~ Children of the Universe ~ Cosmic Education in The Montessori Elementary Classroom by Neil Duffy is a great resource if you have an elementary level child. Having obtained a classic status, this book is used in many Elementary Montessori training programs, leading children to a more peaceful future. Each chapter outlines a Great Story, including the Story of the Universe, Solar System, Earth, Life, Humans, and Civilizations. Concludes with a discussion of the implications for this curriculum.
- Global~ The Universal Child, Guided by Nature by Susan Stephenson will show you how Montessori practices are applied around the world. Aided by over a hundred of color illustrations, the author, Susan Mayclin Stephenson, shares what she has learned and taught in her travels, including the USA, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sweden, and Russia. These experiences from a lifetime of Montessori work provide insight into childhood and the universal child. Susan Mayclin Stephenson is an International Montessori advocate, AMI diploma holder at the 0–3, 3–6, and 6–12 levels, mother, grandmother, artist and author, and her presentation at the International Montessori Congress in 2013 was the basis for this book.
- The Absorbent Mind and The Discovery of the Child are both books written by Maria Montessori and deserve a careful reading as her views are as relevant now as when they were first proposed, a hundred years ago! Bursting with beautiful quotes and startling insights, these books continue to inspire parents, teachers, and educators around the world! “The child is endowed with unknown powers, which can guide us to a radiant future. If what we really want is a new world, then education must take as its aim the development of these hidden possibilities.” Dr. Montessori. The Absorbent Mind.
Books on How To/Activities/Instructions:
- How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way written by Montessori president Tim Seldin is my absolute favorite in this category! “While not every teacher is a parent, every parent is a teacher!” said Tim Seldin. Our task is not simply to feed and cloth and cuddle our children, but also to teach to become independent, self-confident, and successful adults who will feel happy and fulfilled. This book, boasting with amazing full-page pictures, will gently guide you through Sensorial Activities including treasure baskets, Science activities, Montessori Birthdays Celebrations, and so much more! Using Montessori learning techniques, a parent will learn how to adopt Montessori teachings easily at home, creating a safe, nurturing environment for children with clear and concise instructions. Packed with Montessori-based preschool activities and educational games that build confidence and independence through active learning, this authoritative illustrated guide helps raise self-reliant and creative children. Celebrate physical and intellectual milestones from birth to age six with activity checklists, and encourage development through proven child-centered teaching methods. This edition also includes information about the neuroscience of child development and shares advice about screen time in the digital age, co-parenting, other family changes, and gentle discipline methods.
- Teach Me to Do It Myself: Montessori Activities for You and Your Child by Pitamic is another great resource for simple Montessori inspired activities. These skill areas include sensory perceptions, body coordination, language, understanding of numbers, and movement. This practical, color-illustrated parenting book is filled with activities and instructions for overseeing children as they carry out a variety of learning activities. The many activities start with dressing and personal hygiene, then go on to include: pouring, threading and sewing, pegging, cutting with scissors, sorting by touch, making musical scales with bottles and water, using alphabet tiles to make words, and many more. Activities are described in detail and include checklists of needed items, as well as variations and related activities for children to try.
- Lastly, Teaching Montessori in the Home – The Pre-School Years by Hainstock has most of the Montessori activities you would start with starting at around two years of age, with detailed instructions. This paperback with black and white illustrations covers the pre-school years from ages two to five, emphasizing on the lessons such as reading and writing, mathematics, sensory awareness, and practical life skills.
More about Montessori philosophy:
Montessori method is a belief that children want to work and will do so conscientiously provided that the work is appropriate to their age and development. In Montessori, children learn from the environment instead of directly from the teacher, so creating the prepared environment is the first priority. A thoughtfully prepared environment is the one where a child feels safe, free, confident and sufficiently stimulated (to be distinguished from overstimulated.) Be it a tray, a shelf or a corner, carefully prepared environment has materials which are tailored to child’s developmental needs according to Montessori sensitive periods, and activities that respect and promote such sensitivity, be it a sponge for water activities, an apron for practical life activities or a tray to contain and define the activity. Having all that is necessary or anticipated to complete the entire work cycle without interruption will give your child the sense of trust: “I have everything I need” and the sense of confidence: “I can do it myself!” The method grew out of what children did naturally. Maria believed that children knew how to teach themselves. The idea that education begins with the child and NOT the teacher has become one of the keystones in the education of young children. A child is encouraged to repeat the same activity as many times as he or she wants and Dr. Montessori observed this satisfaction after the activity was done 42 times and she said “a first glimpse into the unexplored depths of the child’s mind .”
“The Montessori material does not enter the child’s life as a hard and forbidding tasks to be accomplished, but rather as a door through which each child enters a fuller life. “
I would also like to address the toys! There are some misconceptions that Dr. Montessori disapproved of toys! To the contrary, there were plenty of toys in the Casa Dei Bambini, but Dr. Montessori observed that children preferred to work with the sensory materials instead, so it became clear to her that children preferred “work” to play. They wanted to learn, but they wanted to learn in the way they themselves chose. Dr. Montessori believed that young children should be given real-life activities to carry out, not make-believe ones. That is to say that a young child should not be told about a pink elephant that flies or a talking bear. She believed that real-life scenarios (like family role-playing) or real animals (or pictures of) would serve a child better than an imaginary world which sooner or later would have to come to a halt. Another of her beliefs was that children should be given responsibility for their environment. Therefore, in Montessori schools, children do domestic tasks such as preparing food, and real outdoor activities such as planting, weeding and watering. “Education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences in the environment,” said Dr. Montessori. Children learn best at their own pace and in a happy atmosphere that allows them the freedom to control their own activities. In a Montessori classroom, everything is to the child scale ~ nothing is out of reach. Children have free access to materials and can return one set and choose another whenever they wish. The low cupboards and shelves are used because Dr. Montessori discovered at Casa dei Bambini that children wanted to put away the materials themselves rather than let the teacher do it. This reflection led her to believe that children had an instinctive desire for order. Lastly, what summarizes a Montessori school experience is a little girl being asked: “Is it true that in this school you are allowed to do what you like?”~ The girl pondered for a second, “I don’t know about that, but I do know that we like what we do!”
If you would like to learn more about your child’s sensitive windows of opportunities, below, I am sharing a summary I had put together about Montessori planes of development. I have used many sources to compile this summary, including the above-mentioned books, and I hope you will find it informative and easy to follow.
Read details about Dr. Maria Montessori’s Planes (Stages) of Development here.
Happy Birthday, Maria Montessori! A woman, whose strength, insights and the love for children and peace had transformed and revolutionized the education system forever. I hope you will follow along! Please, subscribe to my emails, comment below or ask any questions! I love hearing from you!
From The Heart,