Anthea Montessori invites parents to a voluntary monthly Study Circle where we discuss a few chapters from books relevant to parenting and Montessori education. We understand it may not be possible for all parents to attend, so we thought we would begin summarizing the minutes. Thank you to Ms. Aditi Bishnoi for providing quotes that stood out for her from last month’s reading.
From Liberated Parents Liberated Children by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish, Chapters 1-5
Chapter 1- In the Beginning Were the Words
• If what I was doing was right, then why was so much going wrong?
• “The language I use,” he continued, “does not evaluate. I avoid expressions which judge a child’s character or ability. I steer clear of words like ‘stupid, clumsy, bad’ and even words like ‘beautiful, good, wonderful,’ because they are not helpful; they get in a child’s way. Instead I use words that describe. I describe what I see; I describe what I feel.”
• “I do not discount the power of love. Love is wealth. But even with material wealth, we often find that large sums need to be broken down into small currency. In a phone booth a dime is more serviceable than a fifty dollar bill. For our love to serve our children, we must learn how to break it down into words that can help them –moment by moment— as when milk spills, or a drawing is offered for approval. And even when we’re angry, we can still use the kind of words that do not damage or destroy the people we care about.”
• Along with learning this new language, we were “unlearning” a lifetime of another kind of speech, one that had been handed over to us from generations past.
• “This is how I see it. It seems to me that our large goal is to find the ways to help our children become humane and strong. For what does it profit us we have a neat, polite, charming youngster who could watch people suffer and not be moved to take action?”
• All at once it became sharply clear to me that if the very process one uses with a child determines the kind of human he becomes, then I could never feel the same about my job as a parent.
Chapter 2- They Feel What They Feel
• Only after a child feels right, can he think right. Only after a child feels right, can he do right.
• I was being told that my job was to help my children recognize their feelings, because it was beneficial for them to know what they felt.
• We were also told that all of our children’s feelings, even the negative ones, were to be acknowledged.
• Parents so want their children to be happy that often they deprive them of the maturing experiences of disappointment, frustration and grief.
• As long as one person in the world can really hear us, really feel us; it can be endured.
Chapter 3- Feelings and Variations
• Variation I- Some children had a need to be heard that went beyond their parent’s listening endurance. A way had to be found to terminate the talk and still let the children know that we cared.
• Variation II- Sometimes children expressed their feelings in language that was so offensive that we couldn’t listen—much less help.
• Variation III- Sometimes a small offering would help a child in distress.
• Variation IV- When a a child was in the grip of a powerful emotion, we were sometimes able to help him channel his feelings into a creative outlet.
• Variation V- There is a time and place for not understanding, for not being in touch, for not knowing what a child is feeling.
Chapter 4 – When a Child Trusts Himself
• A Feeling is a Fact.
• Two or more contradictory feelings can exist side by side.
• Each child’s feelings are unique.
• When feelings are identified and accepted, children become more in touch with what it is they feel.
• When parents respect their children’s feelings, the children in turn learn to respect and trust their own feelings.
Chapter 5- Letting Go: A dialogue on Autonomy
• “One of our most important goals is to help our children separate from us.”
• “We help most by not helping.”
• “I suppose you can say that giving autonomy is actually a way of giving love to your child…. It is more loving to let him use his own power to go on, isn’t it?….It really is more loving to let him experience—even unpleasant things, isn’t it?.….You could almost say that any other way is hateful. It’s like not letting him live.”
From Creative Development in the Child – Vol 1 by Dr. Maria Montessori, Chapters 10-12
Chapter 10- The Need to Work
• The tendency to work is tied up with the nature of the child, and therefore with human nature.
• In fact, the mind of the individual communicates with the mind of other individuals, and exchanges thoughts with them by means of movement, because language is movement.
• When the child is given the means with which to act and the freedom to act, he reveals the highest qualities that his soul possesses.
• We do not say when the child is born—“Poor little child, now he has to breathe for himself!” We say—“A man is born!” We are happy.
• It is our duty to prepare an environment suitable to the child, to offer him conditions in which he may exercise himself through his own experiences, to furnish him with the means of activity and to leave him to accrue his natural potential.
Chapter 11- Walking on the Line
• Independence should be understood as successive and further acquisition which has a clear form.
• To detach the child from us adults, and to attach him to the environment, so that between the child and the environment there is a union because of which the child can act by himself alone—this is to facilitate independence.
• The child’s attention cannot be drawn by advice, it can only be achieved by exercise.
Chapter 12- Working towards Perfection
• We must not think that a child who is patient, is a child who is passive. There is no sense of patient resignation in a child waiting his turn. The child enthusiastically watches what the other child is doing, how he carries out his actions. This enthusiasm seems inborn.
• The child’s satisfaction is not in his freedom or in his independence or in his mastery in the environment; his satisfaction lies in being able to do something.
• The path of perfection is the one in which every action that we do in our life, we think about, and carry out as a means to perfection.
For those who’d like to join us, we meet on the last Wednesday of the month, from 3-4pm. We are currently reading Creative Development of the Child Vol 1 in conjunction with Liberated Parents, Liberated Children. Please contact Center Head if you’d like to know about specific chapters.