It was July 24, 2013. All of us at The Montessori Institute in Den- ver, Colorado, were working hard to prepare students for the oral examin- ers soon to arrive from abroad. But we couldn’t help but follow the news of the birth of the new royal baby of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Finally, the little boy made his appearance; the hap- py parents presenting him to the world.
A little voice was heard through the throng of us peeking over each other’s shoulders, “oohing” and “ahhing” at the sight of the baby. “Someone should send them a copy of The Joyful Child.” “Yes!” everyone agreed. But then we got back to our work.
Only one person persisted. Freddy Alcock, a Montessori elementary student from Amsterdam, who was in Denver because his mother, Heidi Phillappart, was in the long and intensive program to become a Montessori Assistant to Infancy (A to I) teacher trainer. He came to me and said, “I really think we should send the book.”
I replied, “Have you read it?”
Freddy, “No, but I have seen the cover, and I have heard that it is important for parents of new babies.”
“Well, Freddy, if you read it and still think it is a good idea, I’ll help you with this project.”
by Susan Mayclin Stephenson
We all left Freddy alone for the next few hours, as he pored through the many pictures, captions, and main text in The Joyful Child: Montessori, Global Wisdom for Birth to Three, jotting down notes as he turned the pages. When he was finished, he said, “Okay, will you help me write the letter?”
Freddy is fluent in spoken English, but his education is in Dutch, and he was unsure of his ability to write such an important letter in this language. So the two of us seated ourselves on the floor of the storage closet, the only place in the building free from the hum of students preparing for exams—me with my lap- top and Freddy with his notes. Freddy read his notes, and I typed, then we dis- cussed, rearranged, added, deleted, and came up with a satisfying letter that I emailed to the institute secretary to print out, so Freddy could copy it out in his best cursive handwriting.
Here is Freddy’s letter: Your Royal Highnesses of Cambridge and
My name is Freddy Alcock, and I am ten years old. I go to a Montessori school just like you did, your royal Highness William. I am from Holland, but I am right now in Denver, Colorado, because my mother is learning to be a Montessori trainer for people working with babies. A friend of mine, Susan Stephenson, wrote this book. She will sign it for you. Par- ents don’t like a lot of advice, but there are some things in the book that you might find helpful. Don’t use a pacifier that stays in the mouth all day. Touching and feeling are very important. Let your child feel free to do stuff. If the sleeves are too long, roll them up; oth- erwise, he can’t feel anything. Give him a basket of toys so he can choose for himself, give him clothing that he can move freely in. When he is sleeping, he is doing important stuff. If he is talking, don’t interrupt or correct him.
Sincerely, Freddy Alcock *This was written on the 24th of July 2013,
so the baby’s name wasn’t announced.
As a Montessori teacher of children from 2-18, I know that it is very important to help a student complete a project during the period of interest and enthusiasm, so we searched the Institute until we had found an envelope large enough to hold the book and the letter safely wrapped in bubble wrap. A friend drove us to the post office. Freddy explained everything to the
Volume 16 Issue 1 w 2014 | www.montessori.org/imc | © montessorI leadershIp 5MONTESSORI PARENTING BOOKS
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The Joyful Child: Montessori, Global Wisdom for Birth to Three, 5×8, 260 pages, 160 black & white pictures $19.95
The human infant first experiences love and compassion through its mother, and people who receive maximum affection in these early years have less fear and distrust and are more compassionate toward others. Montessori is wonderful in this way.
—The Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, India
Here are some things in the book (The Joyful Child) that you might find helpful. Don’t use a pacifier that stays in the mouth all day . . . if the sleeves are too long roll them up otherwise he can’t feel anything . . . when he is sleeping
he is doing important stuff. If he is talking don’t interrupt or correct him. —from a letter to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when their son was born, written by a British-Welsh Montessori student, age 10
This book explains the meaning of life, how you are supposed to live it. It would be helpful to other people my age. If the young person does not want to read the chapter, The Young Adult, Age 12-18, then the parents should read it so they can help their son or daughter become a better person. —Dutch Montessori student, age 13
The Universal Child, Guided by Nature: Adaptation of the 2013 International Montessori Congress Presentation 5×8, 56 pages, 140 colored pictures, $16.95
Child of the World: Montessori, Global Education for Age 3-12+ 5×8, 170 pages, 40 black & white pictures $14.95
Friends who do not go to a Montessori school are always asking me what the difference between their school and mine is. Or they ask me to explain what a Montessori school is.
After reading this book I think I
can tell them.
—USA Montessori student, age 12
astonished postmaster, who filled out the forms: “To the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Buckingham Palace, London.”
A few weeks later a thank-you letter and picture of the new royal family sent from Buckingham Palace arrived at the Montessori Institute in Denver; it was immediately forwarded to Freddy in Amsterdam!
I agree with that very first comment, “Someone should send them a copy of The Joyful Child.” Someone should send a copy to every new parent. Most of us reading this story know the value of Montessori from age three on, but Dr. Mon- tessori, in 1947, announced that this was too late to begin if one truly wanted to affect the future life of a person in the best possible way. She knew, even then, that those first days, weeks, months of life have a lasting effect on the child’s trust in the world; his confidence; a lasting effect on all of the physi- cal, mental, and emotional development; and so she began the Assistants to Infancy program to help parents provide the very best support at the most important time: the first three years of life.
What might the world be like if ALL of our leaders learned early on in their lives the joy of doing real work and of car- ing for others and the environment? Many deep thinkers have spent years exploring the search for happiness and have found that it does not come from possessions, beauty, or fame but from being in the moment, from doing valuable work, help- ing each other, and contributing to the future of the world. Over and over, in the Montessori A to I work, we see that humans are born with this wisdom; if it is protected, it can change the world.
The thoughtful thank-you note from the royal fam- ily did not mention anything specific about the book or Montessori ideas, but there have been many pictures of Prince George and his parents in the media, and none of them show the infant with a pacifier! If the parents follow the other Mon- tessori advice shared in Freddy’s letter we are in for a treat.
Read full article here: Montessori for a prince