What is Montessori Preschool #12

by Eleanor Zucker.

What is Montessori Preschool? The twelfth installment in a multi-part series about the history, philosophy and teaching of Montessori education.

Adults in the World of Children— Parents & Teachers

Maria Montessori was well ahead of her time in her view of the role that parents play in their children’s education. Similar to current thinking, Maria Montessori fervently believed that parents play a very important role in their children’s education. She believed that education begins with parents at home from the time of a child’s birth and that parents are a child’s first teachers, who have the greatest influence on their child.

The word educate comes from the Latin root meaning “to direct.” Parents have the unique opportunity, should they seize it, to direct their child toward activities and areas of interest that are meaningful and mutually fulfilling. This includes a wide range of things, such as hobbies, spiritual beliefs, values, intellectual pursuits, appreciation of different aspects of their culture and the environment they live in. As a child’s first teacher, parents are the most significant influence on the absorbent mind of their child.

The absorbent mind. The field of early education has now accepted what Maria Montessori discovered many years ago: Children under the age of 6 have extraordinary mental powers. They have a universal ability, at only one point in their life, to absorb the knowledge of their surroundings simply by living in it. They can extract everything from their environment-- the physical space, the language, the movement of adults and other children-- using what Maria Montessori called “the child’s absorbent mind.” The absorbent mind is in its greatest development during the preschool years, but its development begins before the age that most children start school, hence the importance of parents’ input in their child’s development.

Montessori education is an extension of what children learn at home. This is why Montessori schools encourage parents to become involved in a