Normalcy and Normalization

It’s about a month into the 2014-2015 school year at this point, which is enough to settle into the familiar normalcy of the school routine after the relative break of summer. With the new school year, there’s always the excitement of the new – new lunchboxes, new clothes, and, for the children who have transitioned, a new class. After about a month, though, the unfamiliarity that comes with the excitement seems to fade into the confidence that comes with mastering the new routine.

The first day of school involved a bit of prompting for both parents and students. Part of the joy of this new start is that it gives a chance to tweak the processes that didn’t quite work as well the previous year. Needs change, so the best ways to handle it must as well. My three-year-old has been attending this school since she was 18 months old, and had transitioned up to the Junior room at the beginning of summer, but drop off on the first day wasn’t as fast as it could have been. Now, a month on, I would say we’ve achieved normalcy, and morning drop off is achieved with levels of speed and ease only previously dreamed about.

But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still excitement. This school year marks the 30th anniversary of this organization, which is something worth celebrating. And even now, in the 30th year, we’re celebrating many firsts. This is the first school year in our new building, and the first school year as the Montessori Co-op School. There’s a number of new families, who have just had their children experience their first (hopefully of many) day of school, and that is also something worth celebrating.

It may be the goal of the parent (or at least this parent) to achieve a feeling of normalcy for the day-to-day routine, but it is the goal of Montessori philosophy to create Normalization. At our 2nd parent meeting of the year, Miss Annie O spoke on Dr. Montessori’s concept of Normalization. To quote Dr. Montessori, “Normalization is the single most important result of our work”. It is around this concept that our teachers prepare their classrooms to create an environment in which this is possible.

So, what is Normalization? Dr. Montessori uses this term to describe what she observed in children who were allowed freedom within the environment that was prepared for them. Through the child’s focus on a selected enjoyed task, they show a love of work, concentration, self discipline, and sociability. This translates into being able to select the work of their choosing, focus on the task, have the ability to persevere through the task, and, finally, being able to work through any social challenges that pop up from working with another child.

I know that as the school year continues to unfold, I look forward to seeing how my daughter and the other students will grow and develop. And, perhaps one of them will be writing about our 60th anniversary 30 years down the road.