Rethinking Montessori

Well, after doing some more research on Montessori, I’m not so sure that it’s a good fit for George. Or me. I just finished a book on early childhood education in the Montessori method (birth to age 3), I’m not comfortable with the approach. While I respect the idea that children need to have ‘purposeful play’ I also think that imagination and fantasy play a very vital role in development. For example, I remember using books to build a Barbie house, and using shoeboxes for our Barbie cars because we couldn’t afford the real toys. Montessori discourages the use of objects for purposes other than what is intended (i.e., books are for reading, not pretending; chairs are for sitting, not playing rocketship).

A big red flag for me was the idea that a mother only has nine months with which to bond through breastfeeding, and after that, the child should be weaned. I strongly disagree with this, since my experience has been that children develop independence based on the knowledge that their needs will be met by those they trust, and they have a ‘comfortable place’ from which to explore the world. Weaning before a child is ready doen’t meet their needs. Nursing is both a physical and emotional connection to the mother for the baby, and to deny the importance of that connection to a child who needs to nurse longer than nine months is unkind.

And since all children have different personalities and different needs, I think it’s obtuse to assume that all children can and will fit into this mold. While I agree that structure and boundaries and very important to children, babies need unconditional love and care — not care mandated by an education method.

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