Thursday, 9 April 2015

“Owner’s Manual for a Child”

Here’s what every parent needs: an owner’s manual for a child, written by a Montessorian, in the guise of an open letter from a child. The key: less is more; but make it the right less…

Dear Parent,

I want to be like you.  I want to be just like you, but I want to become like you in my own way, in my own time, and by my own efforts.  I want to watch you and imitate you.  I do not want to listen to you except for a few words at a time, unless you don’t know I’m listening.  I want to struggle, to make a grand effort with something very difficult, something I cannot master immediately.  I want you to clear the way for my efforts, to give me the materials and supplies that will allow success to follow initial difficulty.  I want you to observe me and see if I need a better tool, an instrument more my size, a taller, safer stepladder, a lower table, a container I can open by myself, a lower shelf, or a clearer demonstration of the process.  I don’t want you to do it for me or rush me or feel sorry for me or praise me.  Just be quiet and show me how to do it slowly, very slowly.

I will demand to do an entire project by myself all at once just because I see you doing it, but that’s not what will work for me.  Be firm and draw the line for me here.  I need for you to give me just one small part of the whole project and let me repeat it over and over until I perfect it.  You break down the project into parts that will be very difficult but possible for me to master through much effort, following many repetitions, and after long concentration.

I want to think like you, behave like you, and hold your values.  I want to do all this through my own efforts by imitating you.  Slow down when speak.  Let your words be few and wise.  Slow down your movements.  Perform your tasks in slow motion so I can absorb and imitate them.  If you trust and respect me by preparing my home environment and giving me freedom within it, I will discipline myself and cooperate with you more often and more readily.  The more you discipline yourself, the more I will discipline myself.  The more you obey the laws of my development the, more I will obey you.

Read on: Owner’s Manual for a Child – MARIA MONTESSORI.COM

[Hat tip Maria Montessori Education Foundation]


  1. I confess to knowing little about Montessori schooling but when my daughter was looking for a school for her children the only one that struck a cord was the Montessori school in Whitby (or thereabouts). It was immediately comfortable and the only one where the students appeared studiously occupied and were not being rowdy. It was too far from home to be suitable at the time but the positive impression has lingered. She'snow in Australia and has found the state schooling awful where she lives with students regularly being violent. Her son was disciplined because he ran in the playground and fell over. Can't have a skinned knee. Australia education has been far worse than her NZ experience beforehand.


  2. Yes. I remember the day my little girl came home from her new school in the city, not far away from the country school , She said the kids had made her put her hands near the heating furnace, and she was crying.
    I said to her, you say this to yourself daughter .
    "My name is Jacqui and i always look up to myself and i believe in myself,
    people can see what a strong girl and happy i am." There was more I can not remember
    Only two decades later she was doing surgery I had never dreamed was possible


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