As parents, our interest in Montessori comes always from a place of love--expressed as a desire to provide the best environment possible for our baby's learning! Montessori is sometimes known as “education for peace,” which intimately connects it with love. Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori curriculum and an expert on early childhood development, talked a lot about love, and Valentine’s Day is a perfect occasion to honor all the ways in which we show it to our children. Here are some of Maria Montessori’s quotes about love, and the reasons why they are so relevant to our lives as parents!
"What really makes a teacher is love for the human child; for it is love that transforms the social duty of the educator into the higher consciousness of a mission." - Maria Montessori
It is empowering to realize that you are your child’s first teacher. Many parents assume this role by trying to fill their little one with as much information as possible, as quickly as possible. But children are independent spirits who will learn through their own exploration and experience. In Montessori, supporting your child’s learning means being respectful of her unique and self-motivated development process, and observing the ways in which you can help that process happen. The ability to observe your child’s needs and provide for her, without hindering her freedom of movement, expression, and thought, is the ultimate demonstration of love.
"Work is the child’s love for the environment made visible."
- Maria Montessori
And the prepared environment is the adult’s love for the child made visible. An incredible way to show love as a parent or educator is by creating an environment that is simple, orderly, and beautiful in a way that engages your child. Providing a rotating variety of 6-8 developmentally appropriate toys and the time and space to explore them will help your little one build self-confidence, independence, and self-love.
"What an adult tells a child remains engraved on his mind as if it has been cut in marble...Since children are so eager to learn and so burning with love, an adult should carefully weigh all the words they speak before him." - Maria Montessori
When you speak to your child, remember that words are one of the most powerful ways to show love. Even if your little one isn’t speaking yet, she can understand and absorb so much of the language around her. Make eye contact, and get down on her level to speak to her. Use real language, for example “horse” instead of “horsey,” to acknowledge her level of understanding. Model grace, courtesy, and respect in the way you speak to your child and other adults. All convey a deep love and respect that your little one will internalize for years to come.
"The child who has felt a strong love for his surroundings and for all living creatures, who has discovered joy and enthusiasm in work, gives us reason to hope that humanity can develop in a new direction" - Maria Montessori
Your 0-3 year-old has what Maria Montessori termed “The Absorbent Mind,” meaning that he internalizes everything he observes in his environment and uses it to begin constructing the person he will become.
As he explores his environment, he will begin to discover the things that he loves and is interested in. This will allow him to start building his own personality as he incarnates the world around him. Offer your child an environment that will fascinate, engage, and delight him, and he will engage and delight you in return!
"It is a law of human life as certain as gravity; to live fully, we must learn to use things and love people, not love things and use people." - Maria Montessori
Montessori emphasizes a certain degree of minimalism, and an environment that allows focus on one toy at a time so the child has a chance to explore it fully and master it. Toys, or “materials,” serve the purpose of work, engagement, and learning, rather than that of ownership or entertainment. The mindset that toys are materials for learning and working, and not to be used as a reward for certain behavior or means of distraction, will allow your child more room in his heart to love people, like mom and dad!