Maria Montessori was a visionary woman, her approach to education was (and in many parts of the world still is) revolutionary. She said many wise and wonderful things.
If there were a set of essential Montessori quotes to live by then this is them. These quotes have helped me so much, they’ve informed how I prepared our home environment and how I’ve adapted my mindset to accomodate our Montessori lifestyle. These quotes relate specifically to Montessori’s work with child under three. They are a useful starting point for anyone asking “What is Montessori?” and a handy point of reference for days when you ask “Why do I bother?!”
“The studies which have been made of early infancy leave no room for doubt: the first two years are important forever, because in that period, one passes from being nothing into being something.”
Why it matters; everything that makes an adult who they are, from their moral code, social inclinations, work ethic and sense of humour is laid down in the first years of life. Everything. In her hands a mother holds a great burden and responsibility as well as an enormous privilege.
“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.”
Why it matters: your child will become what you surround them with. Surrounded by love, beauty, calm and order they grow to be balanced adults whose mind reflects those qualities. If they are surrounded by anxiety, chaos and disorder than those characteristics will seep into their mind and be manifested in their thoughts and character. I say this sentence to myself at least once a day as I survey our home as ask “What is my son absorbing from this place?”
“Little children, from the moment they are weaned, are making their way toward independence.”
Why it matters: this is a powerful reminder that our children are not ours to keep, as soon as they are physically able they begin their complicated journey away from us. Gulp!
“Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.”
Why it matters: sometimes it’s helpful to remind ourselves that Montessori is an educational lifestyle not an activity list. Occasionally the prepared environment goes unnoticed, the materials ignored…and that’s ok! It is our job to stoke the fire wherever the child discovers a spark and sometimes that means stepping back from obvious learning and teaching. There is time for those moments but far more important is that we follow the child on his learning journey.
“How does he achieve this independence? By means of a continuous activity. How does he become free? By means of constant effort. …we know that development results from activity. The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.”
Why it matters: a child’s boundless energy serves to bring them closer to their ultimate goal of acquiring skill and knowledge. While it may feel frustrating or discouraging at times to be an adult who just wants to finish their cup of tea/fleeting thought without having to chase after a toddler, by allowing them the freedom to be constantly at work and in motion we are allowing them to constantly grow. What a gift!
There is far more to Maria Montessori’s work than these five quotes but these are the best quotes to rely on in moments of doubt or exhaustion, frustration and second guessing – and there are many of those in the day of a parent!