The Role of the Adult in Supporting Child Development

The Montessori Adult is commissioned with the task of leaving his past history behind in order to best serve the child. At its core this statement means within the controlled Montessori environment but in practice this should apply to the interactions with all children, whether they are members of the Casa or not. Ideally we would not just train self-realized Montessori guides but all adults who ever experience contact with a child would be moved to change their self-constructed views of childhood and children and in turn shift their interactions with children to be more aligned in a developmentally appropriate manner.

In order to give a child the breadth to create her complete self the adult world needs to turn its thinking on its head, and kick it down the road a ways. If adult’s could halt the creation of obstacles to child fulfilling their self-manifestation by creating an environment within our own adult world that catered to the developmental needs of the child that would be a start. But it is not merely the act of making a safe environment or child-sized environment that will change the world for children and future mankind. The adult also needs to discontinue the act of interference. It seems imperative to development that the caregiver or adult learn the difference between mothering, healthy child driven response to needs such as nourishment and comfort, and smothering, obsessive adult driven needs for control and adult order.

With humility and patience adults can redirect their actions to create a more child-centered, developmentally appropriate environment in which the child can flourish. The old ways of dealing with children are not working and have produced many unhappy, unfulfilled adults. It is up to the adult to take up arms in the task of solving our current problems of conflict with children through our own self-development and refinement.

Refinement of the adult has three major areas; the physical, the mental and psychological, and the spiritual aspects. Physically the adult should appear well kept, tidy, graceful and enticing (once normalization occurs the adult should fade into the background). Mentally and psychologically the adult should be aware of biases and past experiences. The adult should also strive for more information. This starts with education or training in the developmental stages of children and the materials. Then through consistent practice and experience the adult will gain knowledge that can be applied to interactions with children and with their own self-dialogue. Spiritually the adult should have a deeper investment in their work, a deep rooted belief that change is needed for the good of humanity. There also needs to be an understanding that children present a unique life force we can no longer visit ourselves and this alone should help to cultivate humility and patience, as if dealing with a new and awe inspiring life form all together.

These outlined tasks are not insurmountable for the adult and because we have left the absorbent mind behind we are able to move from being a child driven by forces beyond her control to an adult who can form abstractions and adaptations from and to the environment. Becoming a Montessori Adult isn’t an overnight task. Due to our past self-construction and the adult’s propensity for least effort work the change needed may be difficult at first; however, brain plasticity lasts long into adulthood and if we continue to travel the paths physically and neurological to becoming a Montessori Adult it will soon be our very nature.

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