Normalization is an essential part of the Montessori Method, particularly in early education and child care. If you are new to teaching in a Montessori school, there are a few basics to follow that lead to a normalized classroom, including:
- Creating and maintaining a prepared environment
- Avoiding over-correcting when teaching
- Promoting the joy of work in your students
- Staying patient and persistent
Creating & Maintaining a Prepared Environment
Since normalization encourages learning by self discovery, it’s important for the teacher to create a prepared environment that will assist and stimulate the children’s curiosity. However, every child caregiver knows how quickly any environment can become messy and the objects missing, broken, or put somewhere they don’t belong. Therefore, it is also the teacher’s responsibility to maintain the environment. This task includes consistently reinforcing the rule that children put their tools and toys back where they found them when they are finished playing, organizing the room before and after kids interact with the environment, and generally keeping everything clean and orderly.
Promoting the Joy of Work in Your Students
One of the best benefits of normalization is children developing a joy of work. However, it’s easy for adults to accidentally stifle this joy by not allowing children to affect their environment on their own. Therefore it’s important that directresses:
- Teach children without fixing their problems
- Show interest and provide encouragement, rather than simple approval
Teaching, Not Fixing
We can easily underestimate children’s abilities, so Directresses and parents often fall into the trap of overcorrecting children when they make mistakes. However, children are perfectly capable of discovering the correct method on their own by either continuing to use the materials or observing other children’s successes. Knowing when to intervene is essential to a normalized classroom:
- Do intervene if someone will hurt themselves or others
- Do not intervene if the child is being spontaneously orderly and creative to solve a problem
By allowing children to discover solutions on their own, they will feel more self-confident and take greater pride and joy in meaningful work.
Showing Interest & Providing Encouragement
In order for children to find joy in meaningful work, it’s necessary that they don’t rely too much on the approval of others. Therefore, remember to show interest in children’s processes, mistakes, and accomplishments rather than give praise that promotes your personal beliefs in what is right or wrong.
Don’t Get Discouraged
Normalization is a process, so don’t be discouraged if following these steps does not result in an immediately orderly classroom. There’s no fool-proof formula for perfect teaching and these steps are guidelines to teaching rather than hard-and-fast rules. However, consistently following these steps will help lead the way to your students’ self realization.