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Montessori in the Home

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“Let me do it myself!”

“This is mine!”

“NO!”

Parents hear these injunctions every day as their toddlers struggle to express themselves and assert their growing independence. And while parents naturally hope to support their children in the process of self-discovery, managing their sometimes-overwhelming demands can be wearying and frustrating. 

Experienced Montessori educator Rita Brenner helps parents respond with compassion. She explains how to help babies and toddlers explore the world while setting developmentally appropriate limits. “Parents need to trust that a child can do it,” Brenner explains, “whether it is eating, toileting, or even just climbing up a slide. We often don’t give children enough credit, and need to offer them the opportunity to succeed.”


As a teacher at Princeton Montessori School and the Princeton Center Teacher Education, Brenner has over twenty-five years of experience working with infants and toddlers, guiding and shaping their natural enthusiasm to support their social, emotional, and intellectual development. Her lecture at Princeton Montessori School on November 28 at 8:30 AM will teach parents to apply the basic principles of Montessori education at home as a practical parenting strategy.

Those principles include, first and foremost, respect for the child. Montessori methods work with children, not against them. Brenner encourages parents to see the world from a child’s perspective, and then create an environment that inspires more calm and less conflict. Always offer a choice, Brenner instructs. “You should be comfortable with either option,” she notes, “but can try putting your preference second. Children are more likely select the choice presented last.” 

Discipline, too, requires respect, and she urges parents above all to remain positive. “Emphasize what needs to be done, rather than what not to do,” she recommends. “Instead of simply saying, ‘You can’t go outside without a coat,’ explain that, ‘Because it’s cold, we need coats.’ Positive instructions and actions speak louder than any admonishment. Consistency is key,” she adds. “Expect resistance,” Brenner warns, “Things may get worse before they get better.” But ultimately children will appreciate the sense of security that comes from having clear expectations.

The Montessori approach has been validated by both experience and science. Over 100 years ago, physician and educator Maria Montessori developed a systematic, practical approach to educating children that has since been supported by cutting-edge research in developmental psychology. As Angeline Stoll Lillard, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, recently concluded in her study of Montessori education, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, “If schooling were evidence-based . . . all schools would look a lot more like Montessori schools.” A child’s first school is his or her home and parents are the first teachers. Learning the basics of the Montessori approach can help families enjoy each other more throughout the work and play of daily life.

To learn more about Brenner’s lecture, or Montessori education in general, please contact Princeton Montessori School at (609) 924–4594.

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