When we applied for the lottery to have our daughter attend a public Montessori school, we really didn’t know what we were getting into. I had heard vaguely of Montessori but not in any detail. I spent that summer reading madly and one of the first books I read was Tim Seldin’s “How To Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way”. I did reread it for this review; it is still one of the most recommended Montessori books out there.
First thing to note is that he has written the book for 0-6 year olds. However, I think that this book provides a good overview of Maria Montessori’s philosophy; sensitive periods; learning philosophies; and easy (and hard) ways to incorporate Montessori in your home. As one review on Amazon put it “this is an infomercial for Montessori” – which, if you don’t know much about Montessori, is fantastic.
The ideas around what your child can actually learn and accomplish are eye opening. Gardening, setting the table, cleaning, and laundry to name a few.
Because the book is focused on the home, parents who choose not to have a “Montessori home” may come away feeling guilty or (especially if they their children are older) like they missed the boat. If you happen to have a preschooler in your home and haven’t come across Montessori before, the activities are delightful and fairly simple. But as a parent of a current Kindergartener I think that the 0-6 age range claimed by the book is a bit ambitious. I think birth to 4 is more accurate for the majority of the content.
Also, there are notes that just rubbed me the wrong way. The section on cloth diapering and television both seemed a bit preachy (for the record, I cloth diapered two out of three of my kids and am fairly strict about screen time). Also, I found the book in general overly optimistic. For example, in the section about the Peace Table with siblings, no guidance is given about what to do if things do not go well. It is just assumed that the strategy will work. I had similar issues with the “avoiding tantrums” section where the strategies are presented as bulletproof solutions.
In a nutshell
The intention behind this book is to explain Montessori philosophy to those that have not had exposure or understanding of it previously. It succeeds at this and those parts of the book are accessible and easy to read (especially in comparison to Maria Montessori’s own books). The suggestions of activities and family time highlight how you might expand that philosophy to your home, even if the specifics aren’t appropriate for your home.
In short – This is an excellent book to read if you have very little familiarity with Montessori and your child has just started in a Montessori program. 🙂