Debunking Montessori Myths with Jeanne-Marie Paynel 

Debunking Montessori Myths with Jeanne-Marie Paynel 

On today’s episode of the Gentle Parenting Show, Kim is joined by Jeanne-Marie Paynel, M.Ed, a parenting mentor and home consultant. She is the host of The Art of Parenting podcast where she guides expectant parents, caregivers, and parents of young children to better prepare their home and themselves for their children to thrive during the first six years of life. Today, Kim and Jeanne-Marie discuss Montessori principles, and how it relates to education and sleep. 

Discovering Montessori 

Jeanne-Marie discovered Montessori while she was expecting her first child, 25 years ago. She read a book by Montessori founder – Dr. Maria Montessori. This book and philosophy were exactly what Jeanne-Marie was looking for: it gave her permission to follow her child’s lead and to be the parent her child needed her to be. 

At the time, Jeanne-Marie was working in graphic design but made a huge career change. She went back to school to receive her Master’s degree in Montessori Education. Jeanne-Marie has taken her education to focus on parents and teach them the principles of Montessori. Through education, she found that there is so much misinformation out there and it can cause parents to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Her mission is to educate parents on Montessori, how it can be apple ad home ad teach parents self-development skills along the way. 

Montessori Myth: Children Can Do Whatever They Want 

One key principle of Montessori is that children are the most absorbent during their first 6 years of life. Before, many children experts thought children arrived as empty vessels, and parents had to fill them. Montessori goes against that myth and lets the children guide their own education and development. Because of this, people often associate Montessori with letting children do whatever they want. 

This is simply not true. Montessori teaches that children have freedom in limits – they thrive in knowing where the limit is and get overwhelmed without them. How this can be translated at home is by recognizing where their stressors are. Is there an item, object, or space that your child is always getting into? How can you remove that to remove the stress from both parent and child? 

Kids are explorers and naturally curious. Jeanne-Marie teaches that your home should be a “YES” environment. Try to see things from their perspective – even if that means crawling around on the ground. Montessori is about preparing the environment and preparing ourselves. 

Montessori Myth: You Need to Create Special Activities at Home

Jeanne-Marie has seen a rise in “Montessori activities” at home like colored rice bins, etc. The most important principle of Montessori at home is bringing children into what you’re already doing. From laundry to cleaning to baking – they can be involved in it all. Jeanne-Marie said, “Montessori is about giving your children the tools and life skills to be good human beings ad to adapt to their time, place, and culture.” 

Schooling – What to Look For

Because there is no copyright on Montessori, many schools can claim they are “Montessori” while not following key principles. There are two great associations that certify schools that curious parents can look for – the AMI “Association Montessori International” and the AMS “American Montessori Society”. Jeanne-Marie also has resources on her website that outline Montessori principles that parents can use to help evaluate a school. 

A great tip Jeanne-Marie shared is “the principal of Montessori is really that an environment was created for a child, that it’s child-centric and child-driven.” Traditional education is an adult teaching in front of children, deciding what they’ll learn. Montessori education flips this on the head and focuses on the individual needs of each child to guide learning. Jeanne-Marie said, “there’s so much more joy and focus in Montessori because children are working on things they’re actually interested in.”

Guiding Learning

Montessori is all about following what your child needs in education. It’s not necessarily about learning the ABCs and 123’s the traditional way of learning math by memorizing times’ tables. Montessori teaches these fundamentals through practical life and sensorial learning materials. By playing and absorbing, they’re able to learn these things like math, reading, etc. 

The skills taught are just as much about building skill as it is about helping build a human who will be an important part of society. All activities are indirectly correlated to the next. For example, teaching children to clean a table teaches them the hand movements they need for writing. 

How to Integrate Montessori at Home 

When we first have children, we’re bringing babies into an adult environment. There are 4 areas of the home that Montessori focuses on – sleeping, feeding, personal care, and movement. These areas can change and evolve as a child grows, but these are the main areas. 

When it comes to sleeping, education emphasizes the idea of not using containers children need us to take them in and out of. Montessori does this by using floor beds – a mattress that is close to the ground. The point of this is to give a child freedom of movement. It shows the child that we trust them to stay asleep, and that we give them autonomy over their own sleep cycle. Montessori is about keeping things simple, from the bedtime routine to the actual sleeping environment. 

Connect More with Jeanne-Marie 

Connect with Jeanne-Marie on her website or her podcast where she shares countless tips on Montessori-style living. 

The Sleep Lady®

The Sleep Lady is a brand, founded by Kim West, focusing on gentle sleep and parenting solutions. For over 25 years, we have helped hundreds of thousands of families get the rest they need, without leaving their children alone to cry it out. While we focus on sleep-training, we provide resources and tips for parents to help schedule their child’s day, feedings and more.

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The Gentle Parenting Show, created by Kim West - The Sleep Lady

In the Gentle Parenting Show, Kim West will interview parenting experts on everything from mindfulness to developmental milestones and how it relates to gentle parenting. Kim West is a LCSW-C, bestselling author and founder of a world-renowned gentle sleep training method. She and her team of Gentle Sleep Coaches have helped over 1 million families find gentle sleep through her courses, best-selling book and 1:1 coaching. Kim is the only baby sleep expert out there with 25-years of experience, and she’s seen everything when it comes to parenting.