Let's Talk About 'Normalization'

Read these frequently asked questions to learn more!

Welcome to Normalization 101

With school and classroom newsletters going out and family conferences coming up, you may have heard the term normalization. If you are new to Montessori education, this term might seem odd. On the surface, it may seem to emphasize typicality and atypicality. However, normalization is about the child's holistic development as a member of society. It's about togetherness in independence. Read on to learn more, including school and family systems that support normalization!
Big picture

1) What is normalization?

Normalization is a term Maria Montessori coined to describe the child’s ability to work purposefully and independently in a classroom structured by freedom within limits. Normalization can be observed through the student's ability to enter the classroom quietly, choose "work" (e.g., a shelf material, a book to read) on their own, and remain interested in and attentive to their work. In order for normalization to occur, the student must be guided in following routines that lead to true independence, patience, and intrinsic engagement. The use of interesting works and orderly sets of Montessori materials guides the development of normalization, facilitated by a calm community and kind teacher. Maria Montessori believed that a child has normalized when they experience true freedom, meaning independence from extrinsic rewards that incentive such behaviors.
Big picture

2) What does a normalized classroom look like?

A normalized classroom has a harmonious buzz of activity since it is full of busy yet conscious workers. Normalized students are usually engrossed in their work, whether working independently or in a group. Students are mindful of their workspaces and return works to the shelves in an organized, careful fashion. A normalized classroom is calm and orderly, reflecting the development of the students’ minds. In The Absorbent Mind, Maria Montessori wrote that the greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, “The children are now working as if I do not exist.”
Big picture

3) How does a consistent schedule contribute to the development of normalization?

Work periods in the Montessori classroom are approximately three hours long. The three-hour uninterrupted period gives children time to work at their own pace while completing work on their work plan. A consistent, uninterrupted work schedule will help students become capable of taking ownership of their learning. They learn time management skills while developing self-control and independence. Altogether, these factors influence the development of normalization.
Big picture

4) How can families help guide normalization?

Families can guide normalization at home by encouraging their children to perform tasks on their own. For example, families can allow their children to set the table, care for the garden, dress themselves, and tidy the house. Older children may enjoy advanced household tasks that involve appliances and vehicles. Overall, with advanced planning for a flexible schedule, the family can practice patience and allow the child to teach themselves through controlled trial and error. In Maria Montessori's words, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
TED Talk: How Every Child Can Thrive by Five

To learn more about helping your child thrive, you can listen to one of the youngest-ever TED speakers by following the link! Molly Wright, seven years old, discusses connections, well-being, and lifelong learning.

2021-2022: Year of Roots

Each school year, Island Montessori School (IMS) focuses on a school-wide theme. This year, IMS is reflecting upon our roots: our school mission and Montessori practices. You can join us by visiting the school website and reading the head of school's newsletter and instructional coordinator's academic blog.

Island Montessori School

The mission of Island Montessori Charter School is to enable children of diverse backgrounds to learn and grow at their own pace by offering a developmentally appropriate and challenging academic Montessori environment that models grace and courtesy and fosters a peaceful community of lifelong learners.