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FreudSigmund Freud told Montessori, “If everyone had your schools, they wouldn’t need me!”  As a professional counselor and parenting coach, I became curious as to why Freud made such a bold statement.  In considering what I know about psychology and the Montessori teaching method, I can think of two major reasons for Freud’s strong words.

First, Montessori knew that honoring the inner teacher of the child was of supreme importance.  She knew that the child has his/her own inner timetable for development that is best fostered in an environment that provides the tools, but doesn’t prescribe a deadline for it’s fruition.  This freedom was something that Freud believed was crucial for early childhood.  Looking at the anal stage, he believed adults who showed anxiety and/or rigid behaviors, were a result of feeling pressured into potty training before feeling ready/comfortable with the change in their bodies.  Therefore, both Freud and Montessori had reasons to believe that children would thrive in their emotional and intellectual lives, if trusted to start and complete the process when ready.

Secondly, Montessori knew that one of the greatest priorities of raising a young child lies in educating the mind and soul montessori quote.6during the first 5 years of life. Maria Montessori wrote in The Child, “We all know that the age of development is the most important period of the whole life. Moral malnutrition and intoxication of the spirit are as fatal for the soul of man as physical malnutrition is for the health of his body.”  Both Freud and Montessori were unwavering on their belief that the first 5 years of life are sensitive periods for laying down the foundation of the future adult.  Freud developed a psychology theory founded on the concept that your first 5 years determined your psychological strengths and weaknesses for the rest of your life.   Similarly Montessori spoke strongly to the world of educators to emphasize that education must not begin at age 6, as it does in many cultures, because so many sensitive periods occur between 0 and 5.

Montessori’s first children’s school (Casa DeiBambini) offered a unique approach to education.  She created a prepared environment, with items that would essentially become self-educating tools and then observed when children gravitated to certain lessons.  As a result, she discovered a wealth of developmental capacity in children under 5.  It was the children who taught her that 3 to 4 year olds have great potential for and interest in mathematics, for instance.  So, the attention we now give to children’s development from age 0-5 is largely thanks to both Montessori (regarding education) and Freud (regarding the psyche).

If you’d like to offer your child an education that is attuned to the child’s needs, as well as focused on giving great attention to the most crucial time period of life, I strongly recommend the Age of Montessori Teacher Training.  I have just completed the informational version of the course (not-for-credit) in order to offer Montessori learning to my own child at-home.   I am thrilled with the quality and presentation of the content, and feel very confident that I might be offering my child the best educational and psychological start to life.

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  1. Mary Ellen’s Comments on Flora’s Blog
    I love Flora’s blog and was reminded that Montessori believed that education is “help to life” rather than any certain curriculum. If we want to help life we have to know what life needs. Montessori always drew attention away from herself and to the child and his development. Flora is so right in identifying freedom to develop at the appropriate time as one of the keys. It goes deeply into the construction of the self. Montessori wrote: “It is easy to substitute our will for that of the child by means of suggestion or coercion, but when we have done this we have robbed him of his greatest gift–the right to construct his own personality.”
    This blog also reminds me of experiences I have had lecturing at universities in Russia. Both in St. Petersburg, and in Rostov-On-Don, it was the departments of Psychology that deeply understood Montessori for its psychological value. When children grow up supported by parents and teachers who understand the developmental needs of their children and refrain from interfering in perhaps loving but often untimely ways, they truly grow up not needing Mr. Freud! They have a stronger connection to the “inner teacher” as Montessori calls it. The inner teacher has the capacity to follow through with activities that nurture each one’s unique individuality; so one child is attracted to art and color, another is attracted to shapes and geometry and yet another reads by age three. The brilliance of Montessori is to have created environments for children to be free to develop themselves and to understand how to help adults become more observant and respectful of the development they see in their children.
    Thank you, Flora, for your great participation in the course and your wonderful webinars and blogs!

  2. I love that quote from Freud! Where did you get it? I’d love to cite it for a project I’m working on in my Montessori Teacher training!

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