Each year, the American Montessori Society names a “Living Legacy” in what they describe as “an annual tribute to an individual whose dedication and leadership has made a lasting impact on the AMS community.” Last year, that Living Legacy was Sonnie McFarland. As a fellow Coloradoan, I know Sonnie by reputation and had the privilege of attending one of her conferences on peace education in Denver some years ago. I was both impressed and inspired by her passion for helping adults recognize, honor, and encourage the growth of the spirit of love that exists in every child.
Many of Sonnie’s ideas on Peace Education are described in her book Honoring the Light of the Child, but what I’d like to share with you today is a new book she has written with her husband, Dr. Jim McFarland, Montessori Parenting: Unveiling the Authentic Self. Sonnie was kind enough to agree to send me a copy of the book to read and review, and to share an additional copy for one of you, which you can enter to win at the bottom of this post. My receipt of the book was facilitated by Jim and Sonnie’s adult son, which I take as a testament to their parenting and the loving relationship with their children that it facilitated.
There are a number of books available that describe specific practices that parents interested in Montessori can adopt. There are also a number of free resources online, and all of this is wonderful. As a passionate Montessorian myself, however, I have long felt like something was missing. Those of you who have been readers here for awhile know that I’m more interested in implementing Montessori philosophy into natural family life than in designing a Montessori home school. When the focus is on materials and activities, we stand to miss so much!
As a Montessori certified teacher with vast experience, a parent educator, a mother of adult children, and now a grandmother, Sonnie is well versed in both the Montessori method and Montessori philosophy as they relate to teachers and to parents. When I read her work, I feel that I have found a kindred spirit, albeit an older and wiser one. The first two parts of Montessori Parenting focus on discovering and unveiling the “Authentic Child”, or the child who is allowed to follow his natural process of development unhindered. In this first part of the book, Sonnie and Jim describe some lesser known aspects of Montessori philosophy and how they relate to the child’s process of development. They beautifully describe the value of helping children to see themselves as a part of the whole universe, and to develop an understanding, over time, of the interconnectedness of all living things.
The third part of the book focuses on “Creating Nurturing Home Environments”, and I was delighted to see that it focused not only on the physical environment, offering ideas for creating a living space that honors and empowers the child, but that it also looks at ways we as parents can create nurturing mental, emotional, and spiritual environments for our children. The final part of the book is entitled, “Being an Authentic Parent,” and it covers a number of ways that we can change our own thinking, nurture ourselves, and modify our parenting practices and ways of relating to our children in a way that helps them stay in touch with their true nature.
Sonnie and Jim draw not only on Montessori’s words, but also on their thorough knowledge of child development. They discuss and integrate concepts from psychology like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and also include nonviolent communication practices. The breadth of their knowledge obviously goes far beyond Montessori’s work, and they do a wonderful job of pulling together a number of strategies and ideas that parents can use to support their goal of parenting respectfully and collaboratively. I don’t necessarily agree with every last suggestion, but I appreciate the knowledge behind each one and found that even in cases where my personal implementation would be slightly different from what Sonnie and Jim suggest, the basis for their recommendations is clear and useful.
More than anything, I am thrilled to see a book on parenting with the Montessori philosophy with the simple goal of supporting children as they develop and reveal to us their authentic selves. It’s not about molding our children to fit our ideal, or even about academic success – it’s about giving them the freedom and support to be exactly who they are. I’m so grateful to Sonnie and Jim for bringing that to light!
Montessori Parenting: Unveiling the Authentic Self is available for $25 through Shining Mountains Press. To purchase it, you can visit the site here.
You can enter to win your own copy of Montessori Parenting by commenting on this post to let me know why you’d like to win. Be sure to click the “do it” button on the rafflecopter widget after commenting so that your entry will be recorded. You can earn plenty of extra entries by following the directions in the widget below. This giveaway is open worldwide.
Disclosure: I received a copy of Montessori Parenting free of charge for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was promised or provided. All opinions expressed are my own, and I don’t benefit directly from purchases of this or any other item. I strive to choose only items I think my readers will enjoy, from sellers I can recommend with a clear conscience. See my full disclosure on the About page.