If you are wondering why you haven't seen this book before it's because it's a new release. Published in 2013 I suggest this is already a Montessori classic. Books of this calibre don't come along very often. I ordered it immediately knowing Susan's other publications The Joyful Child and Child of the World (Michael Olaf's Essential Montessori Series). This book is essential for all Montessori school and parent education libraries. Even for those well versed in Montessori this is a must read because it contains so much of Susan's personal experiences (from around the world) and her valuable insight.
Child of the World is divided into four parts; Age 3-6, Age 6-12, Age 0-24 (Stages of Development) and Parents and Teachers. I found Part One, Age 3-6 the most valuable. It contains so much practical information for school and home. I love this section and I took pages of notes. I particularly appreciate the information on selecting toys, activity suggestions and the discussion on screen time.
Part Two, Age 6-12 is less about what to do at home and more about the 6-12 Montessori school environment. I found this very useful as the mother of a five year old and knowing very little about the next cycle. If you have a child in or approaching 6-12, at a Montessori school, this section is extremely valuable.
I felt a little lost in Part Three. This section contains Montessori theory about the stages of development. It was so refreshing to read about Montessori adolescence and even adulthood, so rarely mentioned in other texts. Perhaps I'll be more engaged when my own children near this age.
Part Four, Parents and Teachers is too brief. This section provides some background to Montessori education, covers the basics and it a nice way to finish what is an excellent resource.
Child of the World is perfect for all parents including those new to Montessori, although it is quite different (in a good way) from existing books. It's not at all prescriptive but if you read the entire book you will have all the information needed to create a Montessori home environment. I would recommend this book to parents of children from the toddler years up. It is a strength of this book that it covers such a wide age range. After reading Child of the World I have fresh ideas and am inspired to make changes to our home!
Those pages of notes I mentioned, I thought I'd share some of them with you!
- Practical life is so important. Practical tasks help lay the foundation for all later mental and physical work... When a child has a lot of experience with the important developmental tasks called practical life he becomes more successful in all other areas of study in relation to others. Pg 12 & 13.
- Mothers and parents need not be perfect! We must be easy on ourselves in the home and plan a time when we will enjoy the work as well as the children. Begin with just one thing, perhaps putting the napkins on the table for a meal, and gradually add to the takes in which the child can participate, and eventually take over. Pg 14.
- It all starts in the kitchen! Cooking and eating are something everyone does every day. Perhaps taking a few moments to work together to cook something, to set the table, just one little thing each day, can keep the whole family on the path to wholeness. Pg 16.
- Screen time! It takes work on the part of the adult to withstand the temptation to let the child spend hours in front of the television, the computer or other screens, but it is worth the effort to support the natural development of the child. Pg 18.
- Blocks! In our experience, next to doing real family work, playing with blocks has been one of the most valuable toys for a young child at home. Pg 24.
- World Globe. A globe is probably one of the most important pieces of material to have in the home. Pg 31.
- Demonstrate in silence first, a child cannot both listen and watch. ...try to refrain from talking while you are demonstrating an action, and refrain from demonstrating an action while you are speaking. Pg 35.
- Books. ... simple picture books, beginning reading books but also advanced reference books. Pg47. ...a flag book. Pg 53.
- Art materials. Children benefit from having a variety of art materials available to them at all times and a space to work, uninterrupted, when they are inspired...pencils, crayons, felt pens, clay, paper, and brushes. Pg 59.
- What Montessori is about. When the environment, including the adults, give children from conception all they need, physically, emotionally, even the very young will be able to use their own internal wisdom to fulfill their needs and develop their fullest potential. Pg 122. We do not believe in pushing the child, but we believe strongly in providing an environment rich in all areas of learning so that the child can choose, from his own intuition, what he is ready to learn. Pg 27.
- What to look for in a classroom. Montessori classrooms should not look like they are bought in bulk from a factory. They should be inspired, individually created, and cherished by children and teacher alike. Pg 140.
- The home environment - the basics. There are two important things to keep in mind in organizing a child's environment in the home. First, have a place in each room for the few, carefully chosen child's belongings...Secondly, don't put out too many toys and books at one time. Pg 142.
- Be selective! Many parents and teachers find themselves tempted to purchase more materials than are needed... This is not only wasteful, but damaging to the child's development. Pg 145.
- Inspiration. Through our children, we parents and teachers are the architects of the future of humanity. Pg 146.
Child of the World is a complete resource for Montessori in the home for ages three and up.
Have you read it yet? What are your thoughts?