Unlocking the Secrets of Montessori Normalization – Strategies for Supporting Children’s Development and Behavior

Normalization refers to a state of concentration, self-discipline, and inner peace that children in a Montessori classroom can achieve when they are engaged in an activity that fully interests them. This state is characterized by an ability to focus and complete work tasks within a specific period of time. Through normalization, a child develops self-control and a sense of responsibility towards their learning process. The Montessori method provides an environment that encourages normalization by allowing children to work at their own pace and choose their activities based on their interests and developmental needs.

Normalization is the single most important result of our work. Maria Montessori “The Absorbent Mind”

Maria Montessori believed that normalization could be achieved in the Montessori classroom once children’s basic needs were met, allowing them to engage in meaningful work fully. This state of normalized behavior allowed children to concentrate, focus, and work independently, learning and growing at their own pace. According to Montessori, normalization of the child was the ultimate goal of the Montessori method, as it resulted in respectful, responsible, and self-disciplined individuals who could contribute positively to society. Montessori also believed that normalization was achieved with the help of a prepared environment, purposeful work, and freedom within limits.

“A child who has become master of his acts through long and repeated exercises, and who has been encouraged by the pleasant and interesting activities in which he has been engaged, is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his calmness and discipline. ”
Maria Montessori “The Discovery of the Child”

Who doesn’t enjoy the sound and feel of a normalized classroom?  It is every Montessori teacher’s and assistant’s dream. The process  is flowing, children are leading the way, and you can proudly say that they “are now working as if I did not exist.”

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The work that has to be done at the beginning of each year is incredibly intense. Children arrive in the classroom from a variety of backgrounds each with individual needs, gifts, and challenges.

what does normalization look like in the classroom?

Normalization in the classroom can be observed when students are engaged in independent work and collaborate successfully with their peers. They follow the norms established by the teacher and respect each other’s space and work. Students who are normalized are focused, calm, and benefit from their work. They are self-disciplined, have strong concentration skills, and manage their own attention spans, which results in improved academic performance.

Teachers actively help students reach normalization by providing them with clear instructions, respect, and appropriate guidance. They ensure that there is enough space for each child and provide genuine praise for good behavior. Teachers also ensure that the environment offers opportunities for students to learn, explore, and develop social skills. Teachers promote normalization in the classroom by creating a sense of belonging, fostering mutual respect, and establishing clear expectations for social behavior.

what does normalization sound like in the classroom?

Normalization sounds like an ideal learning environment in the classroom. It is characterized by a sense of calmness, quietness, and focus. Students are highly engaged and motivated in their tasks, and they readily collaborate with one another. They are respectful of one another’s learning process and have a deep sense of ownership of their work.

The teacher is a facilitator, providing guidance and support, allowing students to work independently and with their peers, and encouraging inquiry-based learning. Normalization makes the classroom a joyful, peaceful, and productive place where students feel valued and comfortable exploring their own ideas and interests.

what does normalization feel like in the classroom?

Normalization in the classroom is a remarkable phenomenon that brings a sense of calmness and focus to the environment. It feels like a serene and harmonious space where children are eager and excited to learn. The atmosphere seems charged with creative energy, and there is an air of mutual respect and support among the students. One can easily observe that the children are absorbed in their tasks and seem content and happy.

They work independently and collaboratively, taking responsibility for their own learning, and assisting their peers as needed. There is a sense of order and purpose in the classroom, with each child having an assigned task, and the teacher present to guide them through the learning process. Overall, normalization feels like a positive and highly fulfilling experience for both students and teachers alike.

Practical Strategies on how teachers can achieve normalization in the Montessori classroom

Normalization can be achieved in a Montessori classroom by providing a prepared environment that meets the needs and interests of the children. The environment should be structured and organized, conducive to concentration, and offer a wide range of tactile materials and activities. Teachers should also model calm and respectful behavior and provide consistent expectations and consequences. Encouraging children to work independently and self-correct their mistakes can also foster a sense of self-discipline and order. Ultimately, normalization can be achieved by creating an environment that allows children to develop their full potential and love of learning.

Establish clear rules and expectations: Set clear expectations for behavior and follow through consistently with consequences when these expectations are not met. It is important to communicate these rules to both students and parents to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Maintain a structured environment: A Montessori classroom should be organized and structured in a way that promotes activity and engagement. Materials should be arranged logically, and students should have a designated space for their work.

Encourage independence: Give students the opportunity to make their own decisions and solve problems on their own. This builds their confidence and helps them to take ownership of their learning.

Foster a sense of community: A sense of community is essential for any classroom to function properly. Encourage teamwork and collaboration, and provide opportunities for students to get to know one another and build relationships.

Practice active listening: Listen to what students say and ensure they feel heard. This helps to build trust and respect between teacher and student.

Be consistent: Consistency is key to achieving normalization in the Montessori classroom. Follow through with established rules and routines, and ensure that everyone in the classroom is treated fairly.

Promote positive reinforcement: Achnoladge students’ achievements and behavior when it aligns with established expectations. This helps to reinforce positive behaviors and can motivate students to continue to do their best.

Emphasize respect: Encourage students to show respect for themselves, each other, and their environment. Use Grace and Courtesy lessons to teach them to be kind and considerate towards others, and to take care of the materials in the classroom.

Grace and courtesy lessons and activities that help achieve normalization in the Montessori classroom

Grace and courtesy lessons and activities are crucial to achieving normalization in the classroom. Here are some examples of grace and courtesy lessons and activities that can help achieve normalization:

  • Saying “please” and “thank you”: Encourage children to use polite language when making requests or expressing gratitude.
  • Greetings and introductions: Encourage children to greet others politely and introduce themselves.
  • Serving food and drink: Show children how to serve themselves and others appropriately, how to use utensils, and how clean up after themselves.
  • Speaking calmly and respectfully: Encourage children to use a calm and respectful tone of voice when addressing others.
  • Resolving conflicts: Demonstrate to children how to listen to other’s perspectives and find non-violent solutions to conflicts.
  • Offering help: Encourage children to offer help when someone needs it.
  • Empathy: Encourage children to empathize with others by recognizing and responding to their feelings.
  • Respect for the environment: Demonstrate to children how to take care of the environment and the materials in the classroom.
  • Politeness and manners: Introduce children to the concept of politeness and manners, such as holding doors open for others or waiting their turn in line.

By promoting and practicing these grace and courtesy lessons and activities, children can develop a sense of respect, empathy, and responsibility towards themselves and others. This, in turn, can help achieve normalization in the Montessori classroom.

Examples of Other activities that foster normalization in the Montessori classroom

  • Preparing and serving food: In a Montessori classroom, children may be involved in meal preparation and service. This activity helps them develop practical skills and allows them to experience the enjoyment of contributing to the community.
  • Cleaning and tidying: Another key activity in Montessori classrooms is cleaning and tidying up the classroom. Children are given responsibilities like wiping the tables, sweeping the floors, and returning materials to their appropriate places. This fosters a sense of order and responsibility in the classroom.
  • Engaging in quiet work: Montessori classrooms provide opportunities for children to engage in quiet work, such as reading, drawing, or working on puzzles. This encourages them to focus on a task and develop concentration skills.
  • Collaborating with peers: Children in a Montessori classroom are encouraged to collaborate and work together on tasks. This fosters a sense of community and helps them develop social skills and empathy for others.
  • Taking care of plants and animals: In Montessori classrooms, children may be responsible for taking care of plants or animals. This activity fosters a sense of responsibility and compassion for living things.
  • Engaging in outdoor play: Finally, Montessori classrooms emphasize the importance of outdoor play. Children are given ample opportunity to play outside and engage in physical activity, which promotes healthy physical and emotional development.

Printables to help you foster normalization in the classroom

Silence activity. One of the rituals that can help children gain self-control and contribute to classroom normalization is the Silence game. As an extension of this game, I enjoyed doing the Silence activity with the children. It is designed to help students identify what Silence feels like, sounds like, and looks like.

I used to do this regularly in my classroom because it allowed children to engage their senses and made a positive impact on their ability to self-regulate. What it feels like/sounds like/looks like can be done in a group or with an individual student.

Invite students to brainstorm and share their thoughts on what Silence looks like, sounds like, and feels like to them. It is a positive way to reinforce an attitude of respect towards other students’ process of concentration. Complete this diagram yourself by writing down their ideas, or invite your students to do so. Younger students may prefer to draw their answers instead. You can download this freebie from the Resource Library.

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I would like to invite you to check out the Silent & Noisy Sorting Activity. It is a simple, yet effective way to use a gentle approach and guide children helping them to meditate and think of silence as an important tool to be able to concentrate and complete their tasks.

This activity does not necessarily present Noise as something negative; it instead demonstrates situations when silence and noise are generally more likely to be present. I specifically made cards a bit larger than usual to be used in group activities when children are engaged in a conversation.

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About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.