On the Importance of Montessori Education

The following is our Book Study Guide for Montessori Parenting: Unveiling the Authentic Self.

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A Personal Note from Dr. Jim & Sonnie McFarland:

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On The Importance of Montessori Parent Education

Over the past three plus decades we have enjoyed working with hundreds of Montessori parents. Our goal has always been to help them maximize the investment they have made in Montessori education. We have learned many things over the years. One of the most important is that parents appreciate the opportunity to understand what makes the Montessori education experience work. No less significant is how they can apply the same principles and practices in their homes. Knowing that parents need this vital information prompted us to write, Montessori Parenting: Unveiling the Authentic Self. We have been gratified by the positive response the book has received already from parents, grandparents, teachers, Heads of Schools and Directors of Training Centers. It validates our belief that it is a one-stop resource for all parents, but especially those enjoying Montessori education. There is nothing better a Head of School can do to achieve the objectives of their school than to create an informed and involved parent group. National studies show that parent involvement is a key factor determining children’s success in school. In other words, the more the parents in schools understand how to complement the Montessori principles and practices in their homes, the greater is the success that children will enjoy.
To further enhance your current Parent Education efforts we offer the following suggestions:
 Provide all members of your staff with their own copy of Montessori Parenting. Ask them to read it thoroughly. In this way, they can help parents to more fully incorporate Montessori principles and practices in the home. A shared vocabulary allows both parents and teachers to have a common framework. As a result, parents will be able to better understand the benefits of this type of education. Clearly, this will support a positive student retention rate. Also, this is an excellent book to study and discuss at staff meetings.
 Make sure all of your parents have a copy of Montessori Parenting, that you may purchase at a discounted rate for a volume of books. This can best be done by providing a copy to each parent as part of their enrollment in your school and passed on in their tuition. Alternatively, you may also show your support for “education that transforms lives” in the following ways:
o Purchase discounted copies for resale, at cost or with a margin for your school.
o We will provide brochures for you to send home in weekly packets, with a preceding note from you in your newsletter. We also have a .pdf copy available.
o Link from your website to www.shiningmountainspress.com, or “like” us on facebook!
o Give sincere personal recommendation. A great time to recommend the book is during parent / teacher conferences or parent education nights.
For further details about complimentary educational consulting and for any questions, please feel free to contact Christian McFarland at: (Bus.) 719/395-3969 or (Mobile) 719/207-6995. Phone & text are both fine.
Or send email to:
shiningmountainspress@gmail.com
 Provide a school-wide event, to stimulate excitement, by having a staff member give an evening keynote address on Montessori Parenting and/or an all-day Montessori Parenting Retreat. Sonnie provides these services as well by special arrangement, for details please contact her at: 719/395-3969 or 719/207-2227, or by email at: shiningmts@aol.com.
 Create a Montessori Parenting Study Group for parents who are interested. Of course, the best way to create interest is to have parents reading and talking about Montessori Parenting. It is also imperative that teachers and administrators provide the necessary stimulus by showing their enthusiasm for the contents of the book. The following “Book Study Outline” provides direction for how this may be done relatively easily in any school setting.
We have found that when parents become a part of a Montessori Parenting Study Group they are relieved to be able to share their parenting experiences and soon realize that they are not alone on the great adventure of nurturing a young child. Knowing that others have the same challenges that they do is a great support to them. This type of shared experience has withstood the test of time. Following is a suggested outline for facilitating a Montessori Parenting Study Group. Generally, it is best to have a staff member available to guide and facilitate the discussions. (Once parents have completed the Montessori Parenting Study Group, they would be qualified to lead other groups.) The emphasis of the group should be on shared parenting experiences in light of what they have learned in the reading. Also, it is imperative that the group allows participants to support and encourage one another in the vital work of becoming an authentic and successful parent. It is important to create a positive climate of trust rather than a focus on the negative. Parents tend to resist an atmosphere of failure, remediation and correction. They thrive on being understood and respected! Our sincere hope is that you will experience the joy and satisfaction of knowing that the children in your school are happier and more fulfilled because of your efforts to bring a greater appreciation of the benefits of a Montessori education to the parents of your school.

BOOK STUDY GROUP CLASS OUTLINE


Prepared for use with the book:
MONTESSORI PARENTING: UNVEILING THE AUTHENTIC SELF

By Dr. Jim & Sonnie McFarland
The following is a suggested outline for an 8 week course of study of the recently published book, Montessori Parenting: Unveiling the Authentic Self, written especially for parents and teachers.
Included in this outline are:
 weekly chapters to read
 key discussion points
 suggestions for follow through & reflection
 opportunities to share Montessori Parenting Practice.
The suggested time for each session is two hours. Suggestions for time allotment within a session are provided in (italicized format). While this outline is designed for an 8 week course, it can be condensed or expanded by either increasing or decreasing the chapters read before each session. For example, the course can be halved to comprise four weeks or expanded by half into a twelve week program.
We hope this outline is useful as a tool to facilitate communication between parents and children as well as between parents and Montessori educators.
Sincerely,
The Shining Mountains Press

~ Week One ~
Discovering the Authentic Child
{Chapters 1 -3}

Chapters to be read before the first meeting:
 Chapter 1 Montessori’s Pathway of Discovery
 Chapter 2 The Child’s Place in the Universe
 Chapter 3 The Child’s Authentic Nature
Introductions: (approximately 30 minutes)
 Have all members of the group introduce themselves, including their family makeup and how they hope to benefit from this study group.
 Group Facilitator talks about the general format of the Book Study Group.
Possible Discussion Points for Chapters 1 – 3: (approximately 1 hour)
 What did Dr. Maria Montessori discover about how children learn?
 How do you view the authentic nature of the child?
 How do the following aspects of Mind affect children’s learning and development?
o Sensory Motor
o Ego
o Memory – Unconscious Mind
o Inner Guide
 How do the following aspects of Spirit affect children’s learning and development?
o Authentic Self or Spirit
o Vital Life Force
o Cosmic Consciousness
Selection of Montessori Parenting Practice: (approximately 20 minutes)
 This is a time for participants to look over the “Suggestions for Follow Through”, listed in the book, at the end of Chapters 1 – 3. Participants are encouraged to select one or more items to practice during the week. If the facilitator or any participants think of good follow through that is not in the book, that is fine.
 Sharing with another person, or the entire group, what participants have chosen to practice for the upcoming week often increases motivation to actually follow through on selections and stimulates conversation while increasing comprehension and application of the material.
Chapters to Read for the Following Week: (approximately 10 minutes)
 Chapter 4 The Volition Phase
 Chapter 5 The Engagement Phase
 Chapter 6 The Integration Phase
 Chapter 7 The Love Phase
Notes:

~ Week Two ~
Unveiling the Authentic Child
{Chapters 4 – 7}

Sharing of Montessori Parenting Practice: (approximately 45 minutes)
 Open the session by asking the members of the group to share what they did for their Montessori Parenting Practice during the week and what they experienced.
 To stimulate discussion use open-ended statements to encourage sharing, such as:
o What was successful?
o What was challenging?
o How did you feel?
o What did you learn?
If other members of the group wish to comment on what the person is sharing, that can be helpful. It is important, however, to keep the discussion focused on what the individual sharing is speaking about.
Possible Discussion Points for Chapters 4 – 7: (approximately 1 hour)
 Discuss The V.E.I.L. Model and how it assists our understanding of the child in the process of “Unveiling the Authentic Self”.
 Volition Phase: What are the four elements embedded within the child that naturally motivate him toward self-actualization and fulfillment? Discuss each element more fully.
o Need Fulfillment
o Quest for Self Mastery
o Sensitive Periods
o Compelling Interests
 Engagement Phase: What are the four elements embedded within the child that allow him to receive environmental stimuli and meaningfully engage in the environment? Discuss each element more fully.
o Absorbent Mind to Inquiring Mind
o Meaningful Work
o Movement
o Freedom of Choice
 Integration Phase: What are the four elements embedded within the child that support the child’s ability to assimilate and process information that is received from the environment. Discuss each element more fully.
o Concentration
o Repetition
o Emotional Safety
o Meaningful Context
 Love Phase: What are the four elements embedded within the child that call forth joy, satisfaction of completion and a desire to continue to learn more and begin the Unveiling Cycle all over again. Discuss each element more fully.
o Normalization
o Authenticity and Self-Actualization
o Creativity
o Self-Discipline
Selection of Montessori Parenting Practice: (approximately 10 minutes)
 This is a time for participants to look over the Suggestions for Follow Through at the end of Chapters 4 – 7 and select at least one they wish to practice during the week. If someone thinks of another good follow through, that is not in the book, that is fine.
 Sharing with another person, or the entire group, what they have chosen to practice for the upcoming week often increases their motivation to actually follow through on their selections.
Chapters to Read for the Following Week: (approximately 5 minutes)
 Chapter 8 Creating the Physical Environment
 Chapter 9 Creating the Mental Environment
 Chapter 10 Creating the Emotional Environment
 Chapter 11 Creating the Spiritual Environment
Notes:

~ Week Three ~
Creating Nurturing Home Environments
{Chapters 8 – 11}

Sharing of Montessori Parenting Practice: (approximately 45 minutes)
 Open the session by asking the members of the group to share what they did for their Montessori Parenting Practice during the week and what they experienced.
 If necessary, use open ended statements to deepen the sharing such as: What was successful? What was challenging? How did you feel? What did you learn?
 If other members of the group wish to comment on what the person is sharing, that can be helpful. It is important, however, to keep the discussion focused on what the individual sharing is speaking about.
Possible Discussion Points for Chapters 8 – 11: (approximately 1 hour)
 Physical Environment: What are you doing with the physical environment that works well for you and your children? What new ideas did you get that might further improve the physical environment in your home? How will that help you and your child?
 Mental Environment: What aspects of the mental environment in your home work well? Why? What aspect of the mental environment in your home could you improve? How will that help you and your child?
 Emotional Environment: What activities do you do as a family to foster a positive emotional climate in your home? How do you handle emotional challenges in your home? How might you improve in this area?
 Spiritual Environment: What is the key to enhancing the spiritual environment in your home? How do you express love in your family? What might you do to enhance the feelings of love and cooperation in your home?
Selection of Montessori Parenting Practice: (approximately 10 minutes)
 This is a time for participants to look over the Suggestions for Follow Through at the end of Chapters 8 – 11 and select at least one they wish to practice during the week. If someone thinks of an appropriate follow through, that is not in the book that is fine.
 Sharing with another person, or the entire group, what they have chosen to practice for the upcoming week often increases their motivation to actually follow through on their selections.
Chapter to Read for the Following Week: (approximately 5 minutes)
 Chapter 12 Centering Skills for Adults
Notes:

~ Week 4 ~
Centering Skills for Adults
{Chapter 12}

Sharing of Montessori Parenting Practice: (approximately 45 minutes)
 Open the session by asking the members of the group to share what they did for their Montessori Parenting Practice during the week and what they experienced.
 If necessary, use open ended statements to deepen the sharing such as: What was successful? What was challenging? How did you feel? What did you learn?
 If other members of the group wish to comment on what the person is sharing, that can be helpful. It is important, however, to keep the discussion focused on what the individual sharing is speaking about.
Possible Discussion Points for Chapter 12: (approximately 1 hour)
 Discuss the Holistic Model of Body – Mind – Emotions – Spirit and their interrelationship to one another. In other words: How does negative thinking with your Mind impact your Body, Emotions and ability to connect to your Authentic Self or Spirit?
 Body: When your Body is unbalanced (hungry, tired, sick, etc) how does that affect how your Mind thinks, how your Emotions feel, and how you experience your Spirit or Authentic Self? When you are unbalanced physically, how might this impact your behavior with your family? What have you found to be helpful when your Body is unbalanced? What are some additional ideas you might use? Why is deep breathing important? Practice deep breathing!
 Mind: Mind can be a great support to us and it can also be a great challenge for us. Which aspects of our Mind are responsible for our scattered or negative thinking? (Sensory-Motor, Ego, Memory Bank) What happens to our Body, Emotions and Spirit when our Mind is scattered or thinking negatively? Which aspect of our Mind can we rely on to help us make wise and thoughtful decisions? (Inner Guide) How does deep breathing calm our Mind?
 Emotions: Share an experience when you were in a Power Struggle with someone and you found yourself saying things to them that you would normally never say. What happened to the relationship between you and the other person? What part of the Mind feels the need to defend itself and make the other person wrong? (Ego) When we sense a Power Struggle coming on, what can we do to avoid it? (Remove ourselves from the stimulation and calm down by deep breathing.)
 Spirit: What do you do to nurture your Spirit or Authentic Self? What are ways in which you can affirm yourself and let go false self-images or paradigms about who you really are? Why is it important to affirm our Authentic Self and do our best to stay connected to it by harmonizing our Body, Mind and Emotions?
Selection of Montessori Parenting Practice: (approximately 10 minutes)
 This is a time for participants to look over the Suggestions for Follow Through at the end of Chapter 12 and select at least one they wish to practice during the week. If someone thinks of a good follow through, that is not in the book, that is fine.
 Sharing with another person, or the entire group, what they have chosen to practice for the upcoming week often increases their motivation to actually follow through on their selections.
Chapter to Read for the Following Week: (approximately 5 minutes)
 Chapter 13 Parenting Styles and Practices
Notes:

~ Week 5 ~
Parenting Styles and Practices
{Chapter 13}

Sharing of Montessori Parenting Practice: (approximately 45 minutes)
 Open the session by asking the members of the group to share what they did for their Montessori Parenting Practice during the week and what they experienced.
 If necessary, use open ended statements to deepen the sharing such as: What was successful? What was challenging? How did you feel? What did you learn?
 If other members of the group wish to comment on what the person is sharing, that can be helpful. It is important, however, to keep the discussion focused on what the individual sharing is speaking about.
Possible Discussion Points for Chapter 13: (approximately 1 hour)
 Why is it important to establish nurturing relationships with our children? Discuss how the following three qualities help to establish nurturing relationships.
o Authenticity
o Acceptance
o Understanding
 Discuss the pros and cons of the adhering to different parenting styles:
o Autocratic Parenting
o Permissive Parenting
o Montessori Parenting
 Discuss the differences between being a “Good” Parent as opposed to a “Responsible” Parent. What are some of the subconscious thoughts that lead us to act from the perspective of a “Good” Parent? What are some of the subconscious thoughts that lead us to act as a “Responsible” Parent?
Selection of Montessori Parenting Practice: (approximately 10 minutes)
 This is a time for participants to look over the Suggestions for Follow Through at the end of Chapter 13 and select at least one they wish to practice during the week. If someone thinks of a good follow through, that is not in the book, that is fine.
 Sharing with another person, or the entire group, what they have chosen to practice for the upcoming week often increases their motivation to actually follow through on their selections.
Chapter to Read for the Following Week: (approximately 5 minutes)
 Chapter 14 Communicating with Compassion
Notes:

~ Week 6 ~
Communicating with Compassion
{Chapter 14}

Sharing of Montessori Parenting Practice: (approximately 45 minutes)
 Open the session by asking the members of the group to share what they did for their Montessori Parenting Practice during the week and what they experienced.
 If necessary, use open ended statements to deepen the sharing such as: What was successful? What was challenging? How did you feel? What did you learn?
 If other members of the group wish to comment on what the person is sharing, that can be helpful. It is important, however, to keep the discussion focused on what the individual sharing is speaking about.
Possible Discussion Points for Chapter 14: (approximately 1 hour)
 Why is “compassion” an important component of communication? Where does compassion originate? What are some of the ways that we can communicate non-verbally that we respect the child and want to hear what he/she has to say?
 What types of statements automatically block compassionate communication with our children? How do these statements harm the child and affect our relationship? What are the root causes of these blocking statements? How can we learn to avoid using these harmful statements?
 Discuss the difference between a “You” Message and an “I” Message. What is the consequence when we use a “You” Message? What is the consequence when we use an “I” Message? When is it appropriate to use an “I” Message to express ourselves?
 Practice sharing an “I” Message:
o Describe the incident
o Share our feelings
o Express the reason for our feelings (usually based on an unmet need)
o Request what is needed
 What are common Roadblocks to Listening? Why are these responses harmful? What is a compassionate way of listening to our children to keep their heart open and communication flowing? What is the ultimate purpose of Empathetic Listening?
 If you have a problem with your child, what do you do? If your child comes to you with a problem, what do you do? If you both have a problem with each other, or if two children have a problem with one another, what do you do? Discuss the process of Conflict Resolution and, if possible, “role play” a scenario where two children have a problem and there is a mediator to guide the conflict resolution.
Selection of Montessori Parenting Practice: (approximately 10 minutes)
 This is a time for participants to look over the Suggestions for Follow Through at the end of Chapter 14 and select at least one they wish to practice during the week.
 If someone thinks of a good follow through, that is not in the book that is fine.
 Sharing with another person, or the entire group, what they have chosen to practice for the upcoming week often increases their motivation to actually follow through on their selections.
Chapter to Read for the Following Week: (approximately 5 minutes)
 Chapter 15 Facilitating Inner Discipline
Notes:

~ Week 7 ~
Facilitating Inner Discipline
{Chapter 15}

Sharing of Montessori Parenting Practice: (approximately 45 minutes)
 Open the session by asking the members of the group to share what they did for their Montessori Parenting Practice during the week and what they experienced.
 If necessary, use open ended statements to deepen the sharing such as: What was successful? What was challenging? How did you feel? What did you learn?
 If other members of the group wish to comment on what the person is sharing, that can be helpful. It is important, however, to keep the discussion focused on what the individual sharing is speaking about.
Possible Discussion Points for Chapter 15: (approximately 1 hour)
 Discuss how children’s engagement in meaningful work facilitates the development of inner discipline. Why is it important to respect a child’s concentration if at all possible? If you must interrupt thoughtful work, how can you do it in a respectful manner? Discuss various ways to model and reinforce children’s positive, thoughtful behavior. What are the consequences if we primarily “see” and point out what our children are doing wrong?
 Discuss why the offering of Rewards can actually thwart the child’s natural inclination to contribute to the family. What are the possible consequences when children come to expect rewards for positive behavior? What is the subtle difference between giving praise to a child for thoughtful work and acknowledging the thoughtful work?
 Discuss the necessity of establishing and reinforcing healthy boundaries. Why are boundaries for children important? Share thoughts of how one might establish ground rules (boundaries) in the home so that all the family members are involved in the process.
 What are Natural Consequences and when are they appropriate to apply? What are Logical Consequences and when are they appropriate to apply? Why do Natural and Logical Consequences facilitate children’s inner discipline?
 Discuss the three qualities that must be present for Logical Consequences to be authentic and not feel like punishment to the child?
o Related
o Reasonable
o Respectful
 How do Natural and Logical Consequences differ from using Punishment with children? What are the pros and cons of using Punishment? What are the pros and cons of using Natural and Logical Consequences?
Selection of Montessori Parenting Practice: (approximately 10 minutes)
 This is a time for participants to look over the Suggestions for Follow Through at the end of Chapter 15 and select at least one they wish to practice during the week. If someone thinks of a good follow through, that is not in the book, that is fine.
 Sharing with another person, or the entire group, what they have chosen to practice for the upcoming week often increases their motivation to actually follow through on their selections.
Chapter to Read for the Following Week: (approximately 5 minutes)
 Chapter 16 Understanding Children’s Behavior
Notes:

~ Week 8 ~
Understanding Children’s Behavior
{Chapter 16}

Sharing of Montessori Parenting Practice: (approximately 45 minutes)
 Open the session by asking the members of the group to share what they did for their Montessori Parenting Practice during the week and what they experienced.
 If necessary, use open ended statements to deepen the sharing such as: What was successful? What was challenging? How did you feel? What did you learn?
 If other members of the group wish to comment on what the person is sharing, that can be helpful. It is important, however, to keep the discussion focused on what the individual sharing is speaking about.
Possible Discussion Points for Chapter 16: (approximately 1 hour)
 What is the basis of children’s misbehavior? Revisit Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs chart (p. 75) and at each level discuss what type of misbehavior might be observed when this need is frustrated. For example, when the Physiological Need is not met, the child may become cranky and uncooperative until the need is met.
 Discuss the difference between children’s Needs and Wants. What are the consequences when a child is given what he/she needs? What are the consequences when a child is given almost anything he/she wants?
 Using the metaphor of the Native American Medicine Wheel discuss the difference between the Natural Path and the Rocky Path as it relates to our being able to understand children’s behavior. What does it mean to transform our stumbling blocks into stepping stones? How does changing our behavior have an effect on how children change their behavior?
 Look at each Need Level and discuss:
o How both our child’s and our behavior looks when we are on the Natural Path
o How both our child’s and our own behavior looks when we are on the Rocky Path
o What we can do to transform our behavior so that we move from the Rocky Path to the Natural Path in each of the following areas.
 Physiological Needs
 The Natural Path
 The Rocky Path
 Transforming Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones
 Safety Needs
 The Natural Path
 The Rocky Path
 Transforming Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones
 Love and Belonging Needs
 The Natural Path
 The Rocky Path
 Transforming Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones
 Esteem Needs
 The Natural Path
 The Rocky Path
 Transforming Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones
 Self-Actualization Needs
 The Natural Path
 The Rocky Path
 Transforming Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones
Create a Closing Celebratory Experience that fits the group. Notes:


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