The basic role of the adult in Montessori is to be present in the child’s life, physically, mentally, and emotionally to aid in their development. The adult whether she is a parent, family member, teacher or other, must be fully prepared and educated in the needs of the child and their development.
Adults/Parents must practice to become passive when the child is at a moment of discovery, and active in a moment of true need. They must be able to tell the difference as well. The adult must be a model, in which the child can positively imitate. The adult must help guide the child through their life, but leaving the child free to develop their own will, independence and ability to make their own choices and decisions. The adult must always be a consistent, stable entity in the child’s life; this will provide the child with a sense of security, routine and love.
Maria Montessori says “In the midst of continual progress in favor of the adults children have remained isolated without means of communication that would allow society to become aware of their condition. They are victims without society being aware.”
During each period of life, the adult will play a different role and provide different support for the child.
While in pregnancy, the mother continues to live a healthy life style and receive medical checkups, continues to educate herself about the development of the child, the father must be equally prepared with the development of the fetus and what the child will need afterbirth. Once the child is born, the adults should already know what happens in the psychological and physical aspects of the developing child. The rest will come through observation. From the moment of birth the parent must be like the umbilical cord– is there for the child and provide for it. But at a certain point in order for life to progress, it must be detached just like the parent must be for the child.
The Role of the adult after the first 6 to 8 weeks: Parenthood, must aid the child in their path to independence. This might take the adult out of their comfort zone because you are allowing the child to go or allowing them the time to put their shoes on or dress for themselves. Children are very sensitive and absorb much more of everything than we think. Parents must consider different aspects of their children such as their interests, their physical abilities, the intellect and personality. Parents need to consider what their children will be exposed to whether it is sports or what is seen on television and also create the most stable home environment and family environment for the child. This balance will help to create a sense of trust and confidence within the child.
The first environment is the home. When bringing a baby home for the first time, it must be prepared to receive the child. The adult should be ready and understand the specific needs of the child. It doesn’t matter if you have a beautiful home, if you do not understand the child. The adult is seen as an educator every time she is with the child.
The adult preparation must be given on four levels:
- Physical preparation, including care for the body and health, how you move, how we dress and present ourselves,
- Intellectual preparation: the adult must continue to research and read to prepare him or herself, understand that we are all interconnected, and to better understand the world we live in, we must observe and be prepared,
- Professional preparation, and
- As a Montessori Guide, there is a deep understanding and knowledge of the Absorbent mind, Natural tendencies, Sensitive periods and the Four planes of Development. As adults in the child’s lives, we must remember we cannot give what we don’t have. We need to remember to never interrupt a child that is engaged in his/ her work. We need to know we can be a new person every day and see the same child as new every day and avoid living to other people’s expectations.
The adult in the child’s life is here to protect, provide and guide. Children will pick up behaviors and qualities that an adult models for them. In the beginning and during the young life of the child, he will mimic the adult’s behaviors, gestures, words and reactions. It is up to the adult to model the behavior and morals he would like the child to emulate. The adult sets the foundation for the living environment, or social environment and it must be met with a balance and respect for the child’s well being.