Montessori Discipline

What is the definition of discipline according to Montessori?

Montessori created a defined environment where children could learn and explore.They were encouraged to do what they needed to do in their particular stage of development. The classroom provided a sense of outward dscipline that over time transferred into an inward type of discipline. Montessori classrooms do have rules that are based on safety and manners. However, they are settings designed for just chlidren and promote freedom of learning and movement that fosters the inner discipline of the child.
Montessori said it quite simply that “Discipline must come through liberty.”

Peanut Butter Balls

This is a healthy recipe my daughter invented that’s a great snack.

Peanut Butter Balls

1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup whole grain cereal – like Kashi Go Lean (ground into
small pieces)
dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots)
small nuts and seeds (chopped mixed nuts, sun flower seeds)
chocolate chips (optional)
coconut (optional)

Grind cereal into small pieces.

Place the cereal in a bowl with the peanut butter. Mix
together well.

Add dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, and coconut to
taste. Mix together.

Roll mixture into small balls (about a tablespoon of
mixture in each
ball). Cover and refridgerate for one hour.

Nanny 911

The Johnstons are brave people for having 7 daughters under the age of 8. They are even braver for letting Nanny sift their parenting skills before millions of viewers. I haven’t missed an episode of this fascinating series. It seems like the parents are always the one’s who are being disciplined by Nanny.

The main theme of each program is that both parents must agree on all issues of child rearing before they get their wings as parents. In fact, if parents disagree on the rules and methods of parenting, it makes their children wild. It’s truly amazing when mom and dad finally agree to parent as a united front, their children instantly become calm and obedient.
Nanny 911 is enough to make any parent feel guilty about their parenting skills.

Peanut Butter Dip

This is great for dipping fruit, graham crackers, pretzels, and even chocolate.
You’ll need:
Peanut butter
Honey (non-raw for children under 2)
A container

In a bowl measure about ¼ cup peanut butter with about 1-tablespoon honey. Hold the spoon firmly in one hand and with the other hand, hold the bowl and slowly stir in circular movements. Let your child do this next. You can take turns stirring. Make the mixture thin enough to dip fruit pieces.

Montessori Normalization

A normalized child sounds rather strange at first glance but it is one of the main building blocks of Montessori education. Here is my interpretation of the definition and philosophy of normalization.

Montessori believed that the right environment normalized children. A prepared environment that allowed children to be independent and learn freely helped achieve this goal. In the Montessori school where I taught we noticed that most children took about 6 to 8 weeks to normalize to the routine of school, the rules and work. This normalization process in a nurturing classroom helps a child to develop without the negative influences of the world we sometimes live in. After awhile Montessori noticed that  children developed a joy of learning, which motivated normal behavior as well. Because everything was “hands on” in the Montessori classroom, the children learned to use their senses in a cognitive way. In essence, work with the equipment and materials made the child whole and well. By using their hands, Montessori noticed that the children could integrate information better and think more clearly. This process normalized the child.

How to Peel a Banana

Peeling a banana is one of the first food preparations you can do with your child. Montessori encouraged practical life skills for toddlers and young children.

1. Sit down, facing your child to demonstrate this task.
2. Place the banana on a cutting board or table.
3. Cut (with a safe, plastic, serrated knife) a small notch at the top of the banana’s stem. An easier way is to open the banana at the other end with fingers.
4. Hold the banana gently in the palm of your hand.
5. Put the curved part of banana towards you.
6. Pull down the first peel.
7. When the first side is finished, turn the banana (with both hands), hold the bottom and peel another section, continue until peeled.
9. Eat the banana with your child or place the peeled banana on a cutting board and cut with a plastic knife chunks of banana.
10. Let your child peel a banana.

More Fun
After your child has cut the banana look for seeds. These are seeds you can eat.
Cut other fruit. An older child can cut pears and apples. An apple cutter is a fun tool to use on pears and apples. You have to remove the seeds because you can’t eat them.
Have a party and dip your fruit pieces in peanut butter honey dip. (Mix together honey and peanut butter to make a simple dip)

What is the Spiritual Embryo?

The spiritual embryo is the phase of development that starts right after a baby’s birth and continues to at least age 3. It is the beginning of the newborn’s life in a new, radical environment. It is unique only to humans because of the increased length time of child rearing to the child’s state of independence and autonomy when compared to other animals. In this phase a child learns to talk, communicate, to think and remember. To Montessori it reflected, as well, the poignancy and uniqueness of the human soul.

During this time frame, an infant is the most vulnerable to his or her environment. A baby absorbs and adapts to his time, place, region, and local norms & culture. Montessori noted that many people who left their birthplace later in life were often afflicted with an actual illness (homesickness). When the afflicted person was sent home to take the cure, the patient would get better almost immediately. Montessori felt that this homesickness was a residual effect of the spiritual embryo that absorbed his or her surroundings. (The Absorbent Mind)

Miss Child went on to explain this phenomena. She said that the difference between an adult and child was that “man was the procreator and the child was the creator.” A child would go to create his personality, intelligence, emotional makeup and character within his or her environment. It was emphasized that the most important aspect of education began at birth. Montessori believed that the first period of life was the most crucial. The creation of the body was physically finished. It only had to grow and be nurtured with food and exercise. However, the mind had to be built yet. Montessori believed that babies and young children’s minds had a delicate process to go through and this fragile balance should not be disturbed

I remember in Biology lab when my professor had a slide show of different animal embryos. We were to tell which embryo belonged to each respective animal. After several slides some observant person noted that all the embryos looked alike! Embryos show very little differentiation. This is true with the spiritual embryo as well. Most newborns look and act very similar, but through exposure to individual environments, each child has a defined personality, gift and purpose in life.

What can be done to help the child’s spiritual embryo grow and thrive?
1. Let the baby or child be with mom, dad and family and friends as much as possible-“love and affection can never ‘spoil’ a child” (Child, 73)
2. Don’t let your baby or child get bored, babies and small children like excitement and variety.
3. Have a peaceful environment. (Peaceful music, television, and family relationships- as much as possible)
4. Give your baby a change of scenery. (My babies loved little areas with different activities and things to see in the house.)
5. Get a snuggle or baby front or back pack so your baby can go around the house and garden with you.
6. Take your baby with you to the store, visiting friends, to the library, etc.

What you do during the first 3 years with your child helps build a foundation for future learning.

“The baby needs warm loving care and plenty of interest and amusement. If his education is well begun in this way and continued by loving teachers in a carefully prepared environment he will show the marvelous intellectual and spiritual powers of childhood.” (Child, 73)
The spiritual embryo is the potential for your child’s giftedness. It is an opportunity to love and nurture your child into the unique and talented person he or she was created to be.