Excerpts from "The Art of Montessori in the Home: The First Plane (0-6 Years)"
By Margaret E. Stephenson
“…The family is a society, the first unit of society, the unit upon which the society of the nation, and ultimately of all humanity is built. And so the family needs its rules. These must be thought through carefully; they must be weighed and measured; they must take into account all the members of the family; they must not impose undue hardships on any member of the family, and they must be capable of being kept. They must be made keeping in mind what we said before, the security and good of all the family, enabling each member to recognize that he has a special place in this family society and that it is a place of love and acceptance. In this way, the smallest child can find and cherish his place, can witness the behavior of the other family members, can see their acceptance of the rules, can note their relationships to one another , and begin to grow and to develop within this loving , secured environment. Then the firm “no” to the child for inappropriate behavior, for actions which might harm him, becomes something that the child can accept…a “no” which follows a consistent pattern…
...The child needs order in his life, a routine which he can learn to accept and to follow. So the “noes” must always be for the same situations, and the “yeses” the same. Then the child knows where he stands in relation to his behavior and actions and to his family’s responses. The child who cannot learn to obey is a child who is never sure whether today the response will be “no” when yesterday to the same situation it was “yes” or “it doesn’t matter.” The child does not come into social life at birth with a sense of moral values inculcated, with norms of behavior already known. He can only make sense of morality, his knowledge of codes of conduct, from those given him first of all by the society of his family.
Not to help the child conform to the behavior of society is to defraud him of a fundamental right…the art of training the child to social behavior and acceptance of the rules of society needs a gentle touch coupled with a firmness which recognizes that to love means to will the good of the other. To love the children who have entered our family society means that we will their good enough not to accept conduct which later on may lead them to be cast out of society. We must love them enough to be able to be strict with them in helping them to develop a human way of life.
…By showing us what it means to be a human being, with the ability to act as one, and by making us aware of the fact that the smallest child is forming himself as a human being, Dr. Montessori has helped us to find the way to help the child become a responsible, free member of human society.
And so the art of Montessori in the home, which we have to practice if our children are to make the most of their Montessori education, is to help them understand the rules of life in the society at home and to keep them….Parents and teachers have to form an alliance because both are involved in helping the child help himself, and the fullness of that help can be given best by both together."