The Montessori in a Minute: Normalization
What is the Montessori Normalization Process?
Many prospective parents are amazed when watching a Montessori classroom in action for the first time. Even at the toddler level, students learn to calmly and quietly walk through the classroom and concentrate on their work with seemingly little teacher intervention. Children talk at a measured speaking volume and practice courtesy while moving around the room and carrying their work trays to a table or work mat. It’s almost as if the teacher doesn’t even have to be in the room! This unique system works because of normalization.
There are four main markers of a child’s absorption in the normalization process: a love of work, concentration, self-discipline, and sociability.
A child’s love of work looks serene as they do their chosen work. Students train themselves to concentrate progressively deeper on their selected tasks through repetition. Even when it seems a child’s concentration begins to wane, students develop the self-discipline to continue their current task until the end, strengthening their endurance even more.
Montessori classrooms are communal. Social skills like patience and cooperation are a crucial part of normalization. In a room full of activities and various workstations, a student chooses one activity at a time. If two students want to do the same work, they learn to wait calmly for the activity to become available and will choose another work until it is available or ask if they can observe or work with their classmate.
This patience and ability to share instill a deep respect for their classmates and their work.
The Value of Montessori Normalization
Maria Montessori said “normalization” is “the most important single result of our whole work.”
Like most important work, the whole normalization process can take a few years and develops in stages. The first stage begins around age 2 or 3. Teachers suggest limited choices and check in on the children frequently to help them through their work. For example, a student may be offered two specific activities to choose from and is encouraged to complete one before moving on to the next activity. Normalization is the demonstrated ability of the child to work within the environment in a productive and respectful manner, understanding the expectations of the environment and feeling the reward of completing a task successfully.
As students mature, students earn more freedom in their choice of work in the second stage of normalization, often selecting many activities to work on throughout the week. They are encouraged to focus on one concept at a time but often move quickly from one activity to another with the freedom to choose their work. Encouragement becomes expectation and students learn to make choices based on how they can best get their work done. A child can be drawn to an activity over and over again and have the ability to return to it, relieving them of the pressure to get it first, or do it fast. Knowing the work is available helps students to make choices based on their need and desire to truly explore and learn.
Typically at ages 5 and 6, students complete the normalization process and can focus on their activity for long periods. These students no longer disturb the work of others. They often concentrate on one concept for weeks at a time until they achieve mastery of concept!
The Montessori in a Minute Series
Montessori schools like Hudson Montessori School utilize specially designed tools and processes like normalization to promote experiential and sensorial learning that students can repeatedly practice at each age level. Often, these tools are self-correcting, allowing the child to check their work and adjust accordingly.
This Montessori In A Minute series regularly explores the unique benefits of these fundamental materials.
To learn more about Hudson Montessori School’s interdisciplinary, theme-based learning approach to education, the Montessori philosophy and methodology, or how the school fosters the love of learning for children age 2 to sixth grade, sign up for an open house tour most Tuesdays at 9 a.m.