In honor of International Montessori Week, this month’s Parent Insight Event featured M. Shannon Helfrich, globe-trotting Montessori trainer and author of Montessori Learning in the 21st Century: A Guide for Parents & Teachers. Helfrich spoke to a group of 50 parents and faculty in the Inly Library and made plenty of time for questions and answers. Drawing on her 40 years of experience in Montessori education as both a teacher and teacher trainer around the world, Helfrich provided valuable insights into Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy on education and the modern brain development research that supports it.
Brain development research and Montessori education
Shannon described Dr. Montessori’s early interest in brain development. In 1896, when Maria Montessori became the first female to earn a medical degree in Italy, knowledge of the brain and brain development was crude in comparison with today’s standards and technologies. So it is even more amazing that Dr. Montessori’s philosophy, which was based on her own observation, has found scientific validation nearly 100 years later.
In her book, Shannon takes these current neuro-scientific findings about the brain and parallels them with direct quotes from Dr. Montessori, providing perspective on the basic elements of child development. She said that her hope is for parents to find the book to be a great resource for supporting their children’s development in life and in the home.
Montessori at home and at school: Connecting the dots
Throughout her talk, Shannon’s passion for Montessori was clear. Stating that Montessori is “a way of living, not just a classroom philosophy,” she stressed that understanding of Montessori principles can help parents be more successful and confident in supporting their own children at home.
While she doesn’t recommend that parents create a Children’s House classroom in a child’s bedroom, she did say, “As parents, we need to become as mindful as we can be about what we can do to support our children at home.”
About the author
Shannon Helfrich is an Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) teacher trainer, examiner and consultant, training Montessori teachers in the United States, Australia, Thailand and China. Shannon currently divides her time between the International Training Center of Montessori Education of China in Hangzhou, China, and the United States. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.
Preview Chapter One of Helfrich’s book on the New Sage Press website.
Montessori at Home: Practical Tips for Toddler, Preschool Children and Parents blog post on Inside Inly.
Montessori Kids at Home blog post on Inside Inly.