Friday, 29 August 2014

Book Review: Montessori from the Start

The Book: Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen

Let me start by saying, everyone recommends this book when people ask where to start. It's my first real book to introduce me to the nuts and bolts of Montessori theory as it works in a practical sense, and is an excellent introduction. In no way is it a step by step guide to being the worlds best Montessori mum raising the perfect child, but you will never find such a book anyways. And I feel that it packs in the information of which it expects the reader to acknowledge and then implement as is appropriate to their child. 

This book has done more to build my confidence in my skills as a parent and in the principals of Montessori than I was expecting. It has confirmed that this is the way I want to raise my little guy and fuelled my interest in learning more. 

The key take-home message for me is that children want to learn, want to learn what you’re doing and will develop at a slow pace. They will absorb what is going on around them and have the ability to build skills if given encouragement and space to do so. 

But more than this I feel that this book is as much about raising the child as it is about how to be a Montessori parent, something which I didn’t know I was looking for but took much interest in when talked about. 

I feel confident that I can start to create a simple, ordered and beautiful house and that I have a good guide to start building activities as Reuben gets older. Of course, much of it I haven't put into practice yet as he's not old enough. But the direction around floor beds, cloth nappies, food and the general advice on how to start creating a beautiful environment are excellent and you'll see them in up coming posts. 

I typed up a lot of notes and these are the best bits: 

  • Create a home that is not overly serious and filled with joyfulness and spontaneity.
  • Establish an environment that encourages the development of concentration.
  • A place for everything and everything in it’s place.
  • The hand discovers more information by carrying out new direction and reporting back to the brain. 
  • Rotation not substitution is the answer to the process of habituation to objects.
  • Challenge: build knowledge and background before we expect understanding of specific details.
  • The parent-child relationship is for the child’s benefit, not the parents.
  • Ensure that activities balance effort and success.
  • Remember: the child is interested in the process not the end result.
  • Remember: do not interrupt a child, even praising can throw off their concentration.
  • The child's attraction to order focuses attention and effort.
  • In order to have confidence in ourselves, we need to have control of ourselves.
  • Do not expect immediate compliance, repeat the same request in different words
  • Do not use a challenging tone - patience! 
  • You have control of the situation so there is no need to get angry, anxious or insecure.
  • Remember: this is a collaboration use the concept of “my turn, your turn”
  • Repetition and practice of each new experience results in learning
  • Make it look fun!

Reuben is 4 months old so I feel well placed to build on what I've learned from this book. First change we made was a floor bed, I liked the way they explained the concept.  The same goes for cloth nappies, I had decided that I wanted to use them but until I read this book I didn't mention it to too many people, now I feel supported that the reason we are doing it is beneficial for Reuben to know the difference between wet and dry. And we also are onto the 3rd mobile, a bit late but he's still enjoying them. 

Most useful for me and what I will be looking into further is the "teaching" methods, the "your turn, my turn" concepts etc. and of course I won't be able to stop myself from seeking out gorgeous toys. 

I highly recommend this book, it's well written and easy to understand and gives practical tips as well as an overview of the theory.

Overall usefulness: 4/5 (especially if you're looking for somewhere to start reading, but it is a lot of information)
Ease of reading: 4/5 (it'll take you a while and there is heaps to absorb, but it's worth it)
Buy or borrow: Buy, I'll  be referring to this book in the future and also lending it to the grandparents.

For some more reviews check it out on Good Reads

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