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The Joyful Child, Essential Montessori for Birth to Three

Susan Mayclin Stephenson

Artist and Educator, Trinidad, California

Prenatal & First year

First year-Reaching Out, Grasping, Changing the World

First Year-Sitting Up, Working

First Year-Crawling, Pulling up, Standing

First Year-A Gentle Beginning, Trust in the World

First Year-Trust in Unique Development-The Child's Self-respect

Age 1-3, Family Life-Care of Self, Others, the Environment

Age 1-3, Family Life-Food


Natural Development & A Child's Self-Respect

There is definitely a relationship between the child's mastery of communication and movement and the development of a good self-image and self respect. How many of us would be better at "loving ourselves exactly the way we are" if our own attempts at self-construction had been respected early in life? There is a connection.

The first two years of life are the most important. Observation proves that small children are endowed with special psychic powers, and points to new ways of drawing them out-literally "educating by cooperating with nature." So here begins the new path, wherein it will not be the professor who teaches the child, but the child who teaches the professor.

-Maria Montessori, M.D.

The FirstYear -The Senses

For the first year, the activities of changing, nursing, bathing, picking up, holding, and dressing are the most important and impressionable times. Ask permission or tell the infant that you are going to pick him up when you are about to do so. If there is a choice, ask him if he is ready to be picked up, to get dressed, nurse, have a bath, even before picking him up. Children know when they are being asked a serious question or being given a choice. As you change or bathe an infant, rather than distracting him with a toy, look into his eyes, tell him what you are doing, ask questions, and give choices.

Crying is Communication -senses cont

I find this extremely interesting coming from a country with a major obesity problem. Perhaps if we tried harder to "comfort" our infants in other ways than to always provide food or pacifiers-which teaches them that the way to happiness lies in putting something in the mouth-we could help raise children who are more in touch with their needs.

It is common for an attentive parent to think that crying always means hunger or pain. But the baby could be worried, having bad memories, wet, cold, hot, afraid, lonely, or bored. There are many reasons for calling out for help.



The Developmentof Movement

Myelinization is defined as "the development of a myelin sheath around a nerve fiber." This fatty coating serves as insulation protecting the messages from the brain to various muscles in the body, resulting in purposeful or coordinated movement. The newborn is only able to control the muscles of the mouth and the throat, eating and communicating. By the end of the first year a miracle has


A GENTLE BEGINNING -Trust in the World

For the first year of life the infant's world is his or her family. When a couple is getting ready to have a first child they are about to take on the most important role there is. It is strange that so much more time and energy is put into preparing for a career, building a home, or other adult endeavors, than into preparing to be a parent-although it is a far more challenging and long-lasting role. It is best to begin to learn what it means to be a good parent, long before the child is born.

This book is also a catalogue of toys available through Michael Olaf.RESPECT AND TRUST