Title: Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three
Author: Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen
Publication Year: 2003
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Review: I don’t know why I find this book mildly offensive. The authors seem like decent people. I agree with nearly all that they suggest. I think my reaction is a combination of two effects. One is that Montessori in general and particularly applied to this under three set just seems a little condescending, as if they are taking credit for a way of treating children that is sort of just common sense. For example, I had never heard the word Montessori until my son was almost three when we enrolled him in a Montessori preschool and yet I included him in all my daily activities (cooking/cleaning/laundry/etc.) since he was old enough to walk. I always tried to be patient enough to let him do things for himself when he was motivated (brush his teeth/put on his shoes/etc.). The second reason I’m mildly offended is that my son is not thriving in his Montessori environment at present, because he has a short attention span and this book repeatedly talks about what a long attention span he should have.
That being said, I do think it’s a good book. While I don’t like the idea that Montessori gets to put their label on this way of raising children, I fully endorse most of their suggestions. Some of them are a little too extreme for me. I’m not going to give my 3 year old a sharp knife, let alone my 18 month old. However, I feel overall, there are a lot of good ideas in this book and that children would enjoy and appreciate being treated with this kind of respect. As mentioned earlier, this book does discuss how to encourage your young child to have a long attention span and maybe it would have helped had I read it when my oldest was a baby. For example, as a result of this book I make a point to not interrupt my 13 month old when she’s engaged in any activity, even if it’s just opening and closing a cabinet. I don’t even offer friendly encouragement when she’s focused so as not to break her concentration by calling attention to myself. While I probably wouldn’t give this book to a friend unless they were as obsessed with reading everything worthwhile as I am, I would definitely keep this book in my personal library if I were to stumble across a used copy at a decent price. (Personal Rating: 8/10)