Susan Stephenson would have to be the most prolific writer of Montessori parenting and homeschooling books in modern times. As a young parent, I craved her words of wisdom in the Michael Olaf catalogs. Now Susan has at least eight books in publication including the latest Aid to Life, Montessori Beyond the Classroom.
Susan has AMI diplomas for 0-3, 3-6, and 6-12. She has a Degree in Philosophy from San Francisco State University and a Master's Degree in Education from Loyola University in Baltimore. In the past fifty years, Susan has worked in various roles in Montessori education in thirty-two countries on six continents. She is a parent, who homeschooled for twelve years, and is a grandparent. Susan has worked with Sofia Cavalletti (a former assistant to Maria Montessori), Gianna Gobbi, and Silvana Montanaro!!
I have all of Susan's books, I have many both in hard copy and in Kindle for easy reference. Susan has a unique voice of experience and warmth. As she has traveled extensively she can apply Montessori principles in the most remote locations and under the most trying of circumstances. Her advice is always practical, down-to-earth, and universal.
Susan's latest book Aid to Life, Montessori Beyond the Classroom is a bit of a mixed bag. It has a ton of advice for parents in a Newspaper Q and A type format, where Susan addresses topics that I haven't heard her mention before like helping children with low self-esteem, pacifiers and swaddling, children's stress, the use of television in the home and teenagers. Aid to Life also includes stories and lessons from Montessori environments around the world including from Peru, Nepal, Russia, and Morocco. While these locations may feel remote the lessons of creating a Montessori environment with little Montessori materials or where there are very few resources are poignant.
Some particular areas of interest that are touched on include lowering the noise level in an open classroom, the Montessori environment before birth, power and obedience, Montessori homeschooling, Montessori for aging and dementia, Montessori at home ages 0-6, Montessori at home ages 6-18, religion and Montessori, and stages in development.
Aid to Life, Montessori Beyond the Classroom is for everyone who is passionate about Montessori. It is for teachers and parents of children from birth to twelve years+. I think all parents, new and experienced will get something new out of this book. Aid to Life is also for those wanting to learn the true meaning of Montessori, the essence of Montessori, it's right here in these pages.
"One of Maria Montessori's most important contributions to our world was her discovery that humans have an inner guide which, if protected and nurtured in the child, can lead to the development of each person's full potential. She gave us a practical method of providing a prepared and nurturing environment and setting the child free to flourish within it. A child who is in touch with this inner guide knows how and when and for how long to sleep, eat, move, talk, work or think quietly. The child is enthusiastic, always happy."
"Following Montessori principles can help anyone dig deep and discover inborn gifts. A child nurtured in this way, as a complete human being, will have the experience and confidence to push boundaries, to fail without fear or judgment, and to think in unique ways. We are living in an explosion of creativity and the world needs human beings who excel in creative problem solving, resilience, and compassion."
I want to mention two other standouts that are useful (but not necessary) to read first. If you are expecting or have a child under three, I recommend reading The Joyful Child: Montessori, Global Wisdom for Birth to Three, if you have a child from around two to twelve I recommend reading Child of the World: Montessori, Global Education for Age 3-12+. These are both super helpful books about Montessori parenting.
A list of Susan's books in English include:
The Universal Child, Guided by Nature - Adaptation of the 2013 International Congress Presentation
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