What characterizes the child upon arrival at school? He speaks in whole sentences, walks, runs, jumps and partially (at least) dresses him or herself. They are natural explorers of their environment having graduated from everything in their mouths, to climbing everywhere, to wanting to do for themselves. These same patterns of development will emerge in the gifted to the special child. Our job is to share ideas that will enable us to prepare our children for life by cooperating with these natural tendencies in the child and by becoming better observers of this process.
Let me say from the start that no educational institution, much less a Montessori School, can ever perform its task or realize its aims unless it is firmly supported by the parents of the children entrusted to it. Education not only begins at home, it always remains in the first instance the responsibility and privilege of the parents in the home.
For most people the road to maturity is through parenthood. Paradoxical as it may seem, parents do not mature children rather children mature parents. Their function is to convert the selfish into the unselfish and the self-centered into the other-centered. The blessing of children is that they afford us the opportunity to become truly mature and capable of true love.
The quickest road to independence is through the security the child obtains by parents’ dedication to the physical and psychological needs of the child in the dependent years. Children are not wild animals and discipline is not a matter of animal training. Discipline consists of converting children into disciples who will espouse family values out of a love of justice. Discipline is achieved through a slow process of tempering (that is why children are children so long) and by good example. This calls for patience. We should not get impatient with children any more than we get impatient with ourselves.
I have no formulas for you or directions which might only convert you into actors. As parents you need principles to make right decisions. And only you parents who know the child and the circumstances, and not the experts, who know neither, can make the right decisions for your children.