What does the Montessori Method mean by “normalization of a child;” I thought the Montessori message was about nurturing individual differences? Is my child going to be expected to conform to some sort of normal standard? If my child is behaving in an unruly or disruptive way, is that considered part of normal childhood development?
The Montessori educational method is not actually trying to mold children into something “normal.” Rather, the idea is to help children find their true nature: a calm, focused, eager-to- learn nature that is inherent in all children. More than a century ago, Dr. Maria Montessori discovered that “normal” children actually love learning and will work diligently at tasks that meet their particular needs and are appropriate for their own level of development. It is the child whose needs are not being met, that will become temperamental, restless and just plain naughty.
It isn’t always easy to know how to meet each individual’s developmental needs; especially when so many classrooms only provide uniform lesson plans. This is where the true magic of the Montessori Method comes into play. In the right environment, children will engage in lessons of their own choosing. They will naturally find their inner teacher or innate desire to learn. Parents and teachers can help to guide children toward tasks that foster skills such as concentration and self-discipline . The child, after a period of intense focus, will “emerge” seeming particularly content and peaceful. This is the process that Montessori called “normalization.”
“It is a question of rapid, and at times, almost instantaneous change that comes from the same source. I would not be able to site a single example of a conversion (normalization) taking place without an interesting task that concentrates the child’s activities…”
~Dr. Maria Montessori
We tend to assume that very young children are, by nature, unable to concentrate for more than a brief period of time. Equipped with short attention spans, they are hyper-active, easily bored and too young to learn advanced skills such as reading and math. These are misconceptions that have been unfairly applied to our kids. Children under 6 years of age can and do learn to read, write and understand math.
Perhaps more importantly, they learn to love learning through the Montessori Method’s process of transformation called normalization.