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What is Normalization within the Montessori Method?


Normalization is a fundamental aspect of the Montessori Method, describing the process of cultivating self-discipline and inner peace in children. This often occurs after they have been given the opportunity to work with the Montessori materials in an uninterrupted and self-guided manner.

Normalization is not just about obedience, rather it aims to help children control their impulses and emotions, and gain self-awareness. It’s essential for a child’s development as it promotes harmonious collaboration with others and improves their ability to concentrate, leading to overall growth in their physical, intellectual, and emotional abilities.

Normalization is an invaluable benefit that the Montessori Method offers children, teaching them how to be respectful and independent individuals, with a healthy mindset towards learning and socialization.

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What is Normalization?

A natural or “normal” developmental process marked by a love of work or activity, concentration, self-discipline, and joy in accomplishment. Dr. Montessori observed that the normalization process is characteristic of human beings at any age. (Source: American Montessori Society)

Michael Olaf describes this term very effectively:

“Normalization is a technical word borrowed from the field of anthropology. It means becoming a contributing member of society. Dr. Montessori used the term normalization to distinguish one of the processes that she saw in her work with the children at San Lorenzo in Rome. This process, the process of normalization, occurs when development is proceeding normally. She used the word normalization so that people would think that these qualities belonged to all children and were not something special just for a few.”

Normalization appears through the completion and repetition of a work cycle. The child must prepare and gather materials for the activity, complete the activity which requires concentration, and then allow time to process the work (e.g. “general feeling of satisfaction”) by putting away the materials and sharing the experience. Characteristics of Normalization include 1) love of work, 2) concentration, 3) self-discipline and 4) sociability.

“All four characteristics must be present for us to say that a normalized type common to the whole of mankind is appearing—no matter how brief the appearance of the characteristics. The process is usually invisible to us because the process of normalization is hidden by characteristics not proper to the child.”
(The Absorbent Mind)

No teacher needs to intervene in the learning process: “The goal is that the child will develop a sense of satisfaction from the work itself, not be dependent on the approval of a teacher.” (The Montessori Controversy) A child learns to make his own decisions and, therefore, to know and comprehend his instincts effectively.

He develops confidence and the ability to problem solve. Montessori called children who reach this point “Normalized,” defined by qualities such as self-control, concentration, independence, empathy, and discipline. Normalization is the primary goal of Montessori education.

Read this post next: 20 Ways to Achieve Normalization in Your Chaotic Classroom

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