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Why we Montessori (and what it means to us)

Feb 15, 2016

I need to get something off my chest.

Sometimes I feel like there’s a lot of misunderstanding and confusion around Montessori. Somebody thinks it’s a fashion, and a pretentious one at that. Somebody thinks it’s about putting a mattress on the floor. Somebody thinks it’s about buying only wooden toys and specific materials. Somebody thinks it’s an expensive teaching method: among these, somebody thinks children are too structured and organised, while others think children do what they want.

Montessori is a bit of all the above and none of it at the same time. It’s a philosophy and like every philosophy it comes with values and principles (which I myself haven’t gotten even close to knowing entirely).

What people forget—or don’t know—is that Montessori is first of all a person, like you and me. Somebody who, not long ago, believed she could make the world a better place starting from our children, by respecting them, guiding them, giving them a sense of responsibility towards the world we live in. And above all—because she lived three wars—by educating them to reach peace, ultimately world peace, but starting from inner peace.

So how does all this translate to raising your child Montessori?

Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe Montessori is just a label we use to quickly explain the way we want to raise our children. Like we use Paleo to quickly say we prefer to eat natural foods.

Yes, we say Montessori, but what we really mean is that we always treat our children like their own person and let them be independent thinkers from a very young age. We let them eat with a spoon and eventually teach them to clean up after themselves.

We say Montessori, but what we really mean is that we want to give our children the tools to develop their imagination. We do so by giving them few toys and possibly ones that make them creative instead of being made creative for them.

We say Montessori, but what we really mean is that we trust that our children will learn from experience if we give them the opportunity. And we give them credit for their experience—little or lots—without showing off ours. As Maria Montessori once said, “When you don’t give your child a glass cup fearing he’ll break it, you value more the cup than the learning process”.

We say Montessori, but what we really mean is that we teach respect, the value of sharing, the importance of not lying. And we do so by being respectful, generous and honest ourselves, because our behaviour is the most powerful teaching tool.

And yes, Montessori has its own schools, materials and methods (lots of them) which are absolutely great—so genius in their simplicity and so much better than what the mainstream school system offers (or rather, doesn’t offer). But Montessori is much more than that.

Montessori is sitting with your child silently and showing him patiently how to use a toy over and over again; eventually he’ll learn concentration. Montessori is saying “thank you” on behalf of your child; eventually he’ll learn good manners. Montessori is asking permission to pick him up or take something from his hands; eventually he’ll learn respect. Montessori is making an effort every day to keep your house tidy and clean; eventually he’ll learn respect for common spaces. Montessori is picking up a piece of paper from the ground and throwing it in the bin; eventually he’ll learn to respect the environment. Montessori is teaching him how to do house chores with you and trusting him when he does; eventually he’ll learn the importance of helping and cooperating. Montessori is telling your child “we’re almost home” when you really are almost home; eventually he’ll learn the importance of honesty.

To you and me, this might sound like just common sense, but I think that for many parents it’s not. Often people need a label, a method, a role model to look up to and to inspire them, which is not always easy to find. Maria Montessori was an amazing role model and her philosophy should be the fundament of every school and household.

That’s why I love sharing the Montessori philosophy. Not because I like to be the odd one out (although, I don’t mind). Not because I like going against the flow (although, I’m used to it). Not because I like to be the special one in the room (although, I do ;-). But because I love its principles, its values, its teachings and its methods and I think that many people would benefit from it as we do with Oliver.

And whether Montessori is just a label or not, who would not want to educate their children towards peace and respect—which is the true essence of Maria Montessori’s legacy?

That’s why we Montessori. What about you?

Tell me what you think

Did you like it? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear from you.

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The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Montessori
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
Kids understand if you give them honesty
Bean and seed mosaic
I'm not perfect. I'm aware
DIY yoga cards for kids
Children at the restaurant: let's recalibrate expectations
Don't ask your children to share their toys
Those "good job" that erode our children's confidence
Our Montessori birthday
Two alternatives to screens that my kids love
Using fear and threats to control children is never right!
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
Clean up your planet, please!
Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.

Travel

We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.

Books

In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.

Podcast

On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

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"Non sono cresciuto Montessori e sono venuto su bene lo stesso!"
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Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
Carlotta
Carlotta dreaming of La Tela
I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.