What is the most important aspect of Montessori in the classroom?
The teacher. And as a homeschooling family, that's me.
As beautiful as Montessori is, it was completely foreign to me. Educating myself on the topic has been a never ending journey. I never feel like I grasp it all, I simply go deeper little by little. There have been a number of books I've found helpful throughout the years and I'm excited to share those with you.
Let me first mention books written by Maria Montessori herself. I do think it's important to read Montessori's writings. However, I don't want to dwell on those books simply because most people are aware of them. Here is a fabulous reading list from Montessori Nuggets that will help you sort them out.
I do want to give a few cautions in this area. Montessori's work began over a century ago. As a true scientist, she researched and reevaluated her work over the years. This means that some earlier texts are contradicted by later texts. It's important to understand what was written when. There is also a great deal of her work that isn't fully available yet. Some hasn't been translated from the original Italian. Other critical pieces were presented in lectures and can be difficult to track down; meaning the books currently available do not cover all her work.
You can find some of her books available for free through places like The Internet Archive. However, many of the translations are poor and often not complete. For example, the free version of The Absorbent Mind is missing several chapters. If you want a sound translation, The Clio Montessori Series seems to have the most reliable versions of her work in English.
1946 London Lectures by Maria Montessori
I want to point out this gem by Maria Montessori since it only became available in recent years and many people are not familiar with it. It is a set of 33 lectures from Montessori's later years as she was giving a training course in London. There are many topics covered. What I find so fascinating is that she does address some misconceptions that arose from her work. The lecture where she sets the record straight about her views on fantasy for young children is worth the read alone.
How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin
This is my favorite starter book for someone new to Montessori. It's practical and informative without feeling overwhelming. This simple read gives you things you can implement immediately. It covers birth to age six.
The Pink What? by Deede Stephenson
This is a short reference guide to the core materials seen in a Montessori primary classroom (ages 3-6). While it isn't designed to show you how to tackle all the lessons, it is a great overview of the various materials and their purpose. It can be particularly helpful for a spouse or someone who wants a general understanding of the tools used.
Teaching Montessori in the Home: Pre-School Years by Elizabeth G. Hainstock
This books offers a number of core activities for a preschool aged child. While the scope is far less than a set of albums, what is presented is simple and concise. There is a lot of do it yourself instructions for the materials. The first section also gives a wealth of practical advice for setting Montessori up in your home, which is something many of the resources lack since they are geared towards classroom environments. There is a version of this book for the elementary years as well but I do not have a copy yet.
Mommy, Teach Me: Preparing Your Preschool Child for a Lifetime of Learning by Barbara Curtis
Barbara Curtis was a Montessori teacher who taught her twelve children at home on a shoestring budget. This book is wonderfully encouraging and as practical as they come. There are a number of classic activities listed as well as several chapters on how to make it work at home.
A Path for the Exploration of Any Language Leading to Writing and Reading by Muriel I. Dwyer
This is more of a pamphlet than a book but it is a treasure. It covers everything you need to help your child on the path to reading. If you are familiar with the AMI Montessori reading sequence, it is similar to how it is approached. It makes the process simple and finding this approach was a lifesaver for us.
Think of Something Quiet by Clare Cherry
While this book doesn't claim to be Montessori in any way, I find it works well with aspects such as the silence game and peace table. It is meant for classrooms but most of the activities can adapt easily at home. There are great tips about helping children cope with stress or learning to relax. I found this book helpful for improving observation skills too.
Modern Montessori at Home: A Creative Teaching Guide for Parents of Children 6 - 9 Years of Age by Heidi Ann Spietz
I was interested in seeing this book since it covers ages 6-9 and resources for that age range are harder to come by. While I don't find this resource all inclusive, there are some nice activities and helpful tips. I like the chapters on lesson planning and setting up at home. It's out of print but if you can come across a cheap copy, it might give you a few new ideas. There is also a 10-12 version that I'm interested in tracking down.
Child of the World: Montessori, Global Education for Age 3-12+ by Susan Mayclin Stephenson
This is the newest book I own so I have not completed reading it yet but I do enjoy what I've read so far. It isn't an activity guide but it gives a wonderful overview of each area. It is helping me understand what the holistic goal is through elementary, which will ultimately help me grasp how the details of an elementary experience connect. While this book is listed as 3-12, it touches on birth all the way through adulthood. There is second book called The Joyful Child that focuses on ages 0-3.
Children Who Are Not Yet Peaceful by Donna Bryant Goertz
I do not own this book yet. I have had my eye on it for some time as I've heard wonderful things. However, now that I have started working with children again in a classroom setting, I will be ordering a copy soon. This book discusses various struggles children may have in the classroom through the profiles of real children. It then offers tips and techniques for promoting inclusion and normalization.
So if you've made it this far then you deserve a look at what I consider to be the most value resource in my collection.
Keys of the World Theory Album by Jessica Welsh
This theory album is beautifully written. There's something about the style of writing that I connect with. This work combines the best of Montessori's writings with content from her lectures. It is cohesive, easy to comprehend, and most of all; practical. So much of the Montessori philosophy felt abstract before I read this. This album is directed toward primary or ages 3-6. It is unique compared to the other resources available and I can't recommend it enough.
Keys of the Universe Theory Album by Jessica Welsh
This is as wonderful as the primary album only directed at the elementary plane (ages 6-12). I would not have attempted to pursue elementary Montessori at home without this. This plane of development can be cryptic with so few resources. The child transitions so much from primary and this has given me to tools to understand the change.
If you would like to read through Child of the World with me, join Montessori Homeschooling. We will be going through it as a group at the end of this month.
So there you have it. These are the resources that have helped me on my journey. Do you have something you adore? Share it in the comments.
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This post is part of the 12 Months of Montessori series. Please visit the links below. There are some fabulous ideas on Montessori books.