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The Secret of Childhood

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  621 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Maria Montessori describes the child with warmth and the exactness of a scientist. She also discusses the array of materials and techniques needed to release his learning potential.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 12th 1982 by Ballantine Books (first published 1936)
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Roslyn Ross
Feb 13, 2014 Roslyn Ross rated it it was amazing
There are few books on children that I have read that are better than this one.

I love this woman. What I would give to have lunch with her! I want to share Nathaniel Branden's stuff on self-esteem with her! She would have a much better understanding of adults. Found it very interesting that she has such a clear view of children in most ways and such a clear view that they become abnormal anti-humans and then go live lives not worthy of a human being. But then she forgets. She forgets that real
Maha Ibrahim
Apr 16, 2017 Maha Ibrahim rated it it was amazing
I marked it 5 because reading this book was an excellent journey towards the children's world! I learned a lot about the children's psychological needs and about their world. I was really astonished that this book was written more than 100 years ago because unfortunately Maria Montessori deliberately and accurately addressed problems our schools still suffer from. The Montessori method gives a lot of solutions for the problems in our schools. I truly wish that this method will be more adopted by ...more
Mar 21, 2017 Joyce rated it it was amazing
Excellent read.

This is my first exposure to Dr Montessori's pedagogy and her philosophy with regards to children. It is so refreshing and eye-opening. In particular, I enjoyed reading and learning about the "sensitive periods," the rhythm of the child, and observations about children which led to the development of her "Method."

The short chapter on The Spiritual Preparation of the Teacher serves as a very good examination of conscience for teachers of young children, as well as for parents.

Eng Ali
Jan 23, 2016 Eng Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
الكتاب عميق اوى ومدى بعد غريب للطفل اول مرة الاحظه. الترجمة كانت محبطة وغير دقيقة فى اوقات كتير
Sep 22, 2016 The rated it liked it
If you're looking for a "how-to" on the Montessori Method, this isn't it. What this book is is an exploration of the philosophical foundations of Maria Montessori's view of the child in society, based upon some of her historical experiences and study of related social research.

Although this book was published long ago, Montessori's revelation appears to be, by and large, still a secret. Sadly, it is not just a cultural secret. Even in the West, and particularly the United States, where her ideas
Dec 14, 2012 S. rated it really liked it
" The child is universal. He has existed in all ages and will continue to be born until the end of time. There is no child from pre-history, of the Middle Ages, no Victorian child, no modern child. There is, in reality, only the child, of all times, of all races, heir to tradition, hander-on of history, crucible of culture, pathway to peace.» from the Foreword, by Margaret E. Stephenson

from the Introduction: "And yet children come into the world endowed with new energies that could correct the e
Sep 14, 2008 Sara rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone, especially parents and teachers
An excellent book! I am at a loss as to how to review this book... I think the key is that it brings understanding to childhood- an understanding, or perhaps a new perspective, more valuable and important than words can do justice.

My impression is that Montessori's approach is in the first place scientific, and that from it springs great love. A treat for me was the religious, Catholic insights that sprinkle the pages.

I don't remember what struck me most when I first read much of this book in J
Aug 16, 2016 Talia rated it really liked it
I loved reading this primary text from Maria Montessori herself -- so good to hear what she was really thinking. This book is better than 'The Absorbent Mind.' Reading MM's own words helps me to understand (and take with a grain of salt) some of the interpretations of her observations and instructions as manifest in Montessori groups on Facebook / other communities. For example, the thing about not (over) praising children seems to be really hyped up in certain conversations about Montessori met ...more
Mar 28, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting-birth
I've been interested in Montessori style education since having my son, and we have implemented some Montessori ideas in his room and with his toys/learning materials (a floor bed in his room, toys and books within reach, simple stacking and sorting toys...along with the inevitable V Tech talking things) This is her first book I believe, and details out how she got started working in schools with children. I find many of her ideas about childhood and children ring very true, and I definitely bel ...more
Jul 07, 2015 Jacqueline rated it really liked it
Maria Montessori is a genius. She was born in 1870. To have such great insights on children's development in that era is very rare. If you heard about Monterssori and is skeptical about her philosophy or how things seem to be done, this book definitely gives you a bigger picture of Montessori's larger thinking. Keep in mind that Montessori worked with children from a lower to working class family background with parents that were illiterate and poor.

Montessori placed emphasis on children's physi
Nov 09, 2008 Yvonne rated it it was ok
I must admit, I was a bit disappointed in this book. I was expecting it to be more along the lines of Dr. Montessori's earlier book, The Montessori Method where she went into more depth of exactly how she came to the conclusions on child development that she did. But she didn't - it was a more philosophical book on liberating the child without as many examples of how or why she came to these conclusions from things her students did or said. I often found her philosophy at odds with her professed ...more
Bernardo Villela
Oct 08, 2014 Bernardo Villela rated it it was amazing
Having attended a Montessori school from K-4 it was illuminating to read this account from the literal mother of the method. What was most impressive is how much of the educational philosophy is imbued in the experience of being in that educational environment and verbalized in this writing. Furthermore, as a new parent, it has a multi-faceted approach to discussing child development, psychology, and sociological conditions that affect growth, and also serve as reminders and insights to ones own ...more
Dec 30, 2011 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favourite Montessori book is The Secret of Childhood. As I read this book, it opened my eyes to show the world of the child. I was able to better communicate with children and I saw what other adults did not see. It was like I had entered a secret garden in which only special adults with special seeing powers could enter. These special seeing powers enabled me to improve my teaching style within the limits that my environment permitted. The secret is made up of small puzzle pieces and they do ...more
Erik Akre
Jul 16, 2015 Erik Akre rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents of little ones, anyone exploring Montessori
Shelves: education, montessori
The Secret of Childhood is the best place to find Montessori's early thinking about human development for ages 3-6. It includes numerous stories and anecdotes and differ from The Absorbent Mind in subtle ways. It seems less theoretical and more experiential, with more (and better) specific stories of children and their development. The Secret of Childhood, it turns out, is also the hidden key to the future of humanity. The book develops this theme well at the end, looking forward to much of Mont ...more
Jul 24, 2011 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teaching
Can you imagine pioneering a field of study as broad as childhood? Montessori was born in 1870-- science was something different then-- sperm cells were still "invisible," the mechanism of genetic inheritance was unknown. Within that context, Montessori's approach is even more remarkable. Her language, to modern ears, is oddly neither here nor there-- psuedo-scientific sounding with rhapsodaic odes to the psychic lives of children. Quotes from psalms and mythology high-falute the text. But she w ...more
الشيماء خميس
أول كتاب من مجموعه ماريا منتسورى أقراه أخد منى وقت كبير على ما قريته يمكن لان ديه اول مره أقرأ كتاب بالعمق ده ولان قرأتى معظمها كانت من الروايات بشكل عام الكتاب فى معلومات كتير عن طريقة ماريا منتسورى يمكن قرأت معظمها قبل كده بس كان فيه ومضات بين السطور كده عجبتنى قوى ومن اكتر الجزئيات اللى شدتنى فى الكتاب الفصل اللى بيتكلم عن بيوت الاطفال وازاى بدات معاهم منتسورى من الصفر وتطورهم السلوكى والتعليمى وازاى تحولوا الى أطفال كالكبار فى تصرفاتهم
Oct 01, 2008 Tara rated it it was amazing
Out of the three Montessori Method reads I have consumed, I say this one has been the most relevant. Put into perspective my own behavior as the key to nurture her tendencies. Although for me and my nine month old, these things seem at a distant future, really, the understanding should be established now. For their nature begins at day one. Harmony within the home is a high importance. Science concludes all of this. And what love touched these written pages !
Jul 27, 2014 Nissa rated it it was amazing
I decided to reread Montessori's writing upon returning to work at a Montessori School. This book affirmed why Montessorians do what they do. The reasoning behind Montessori's writing is profound. I seek to continue to embrace the philosophy in my own life as well as my professional life. Respecting the child and allowing their independence within boundaries. I blogged my way through the book starting in August 2014:
Mar 29, 2016 Linnea rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 10, 2008 Babs rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
My oldest daughter just finished her 2nd year of Montessori preschool, and I read this as part of a book club her teacher and another teacher at the school started. I enjoyed it and found it very informative and relevant. It's surprising how little parent and child behavior has changed over the past 100 years.
Dec 03, 2016 Alex added it
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary Gaudette
Sep 14, 2012 Mary Gaudette rated it it was amazing

This is a philosophical, beautiful book pioneering the concept that children are self-actualizing and adults can either enable their development or repress it. Really enjoyed it and felt it challenged my parenting approach in a few important ways.
Jan 27, 2008 Theresa rated it really liked it
Helped me understand my eldest when nothing else did!
Angus Mckay
Mar 05, 2011 Angus Mckay rated it really liked it
Always been a fan of Montessori. I'm only a little way into the first chapter, but already thoroughly impressed. Can't wait to find what more there is in here.
Aug 20, 2013 Siobhan rated it really liked it
Not for the average reader, but for a newfound Montessori an, like myself, was an enlightening read.
Oct 07, 2010 Costaricachica rated it really liked it
Probably the best-written of her books. The more I read and discover about Montessori's approach to life the more determined I am to become a teacher of this philosophy.
May 28, 2016 Chung added it
Oct 10, 2012 Darth rated it really liked it
Of all the Montessori books I read, this is the easiest to comprehend.
Gail Keefe
This book is sometimes difficult to read, because it is very philoophical, but it does give educators and parents good insights into the thoughts and motivations of young children.
Jeana Marie
Sep 15, 2012 Jeana Marie rated it really liked it
Very informative. Read it while still at uni, now I'm applying most of what I've read to my own kids :)
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Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator, philosopher, humanitarian and devout Catholic; she is best known for her philosophy and the Montessori method of education of children from birth to adolescence. Her educational method is in use today in a number of public as well as private schools throughout the world.
More about Maria Montessori...

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