What is the meaning of Authentic? It is derived from the Greek root authentiko, which means “author”. The Authentic Child is a child who is allowed to develop or “author” himself. There are five essential attributes of the Authentic Child. These attributes are deeply connected to the child’s inherent sense of self-worth.
- Reason (the inborn ability to recognize truth)
- Appropriate immaturity (the ability to act one’s own age)
- Exuberant energy.
Maria Montessori became aware of the Authentic Child over 100 years ago. By careful observation, she found the spiritual treasures that children own. As she designed her Montessori classrooms to meet the child’s developmental needs and interests, these spiritual treasures came to light, revealing to her the idea of the “Authentic Child”. This in turn lead her to define the following traits of the Authentic Montessori Child:
- Joyful Learners
- Internally Motivated
Although parents and teachers must work together to protect the authenticity and innocence of the child, it is the influence of the parent that is most significant. The Montessori parent
- Recognizes the child’s authentic nature regardless of behavior.
- Is patient and reflects the child’s light and spiritual treasures.
- Is centered in love.
- Models peace
- Creates home and school environments which support authenticity.
How can this happen? What does this look like? Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, parents can encourage authenticity in their children.
- Regular, healthy meals
- Good sleeping habits
- Comfortable home environment
- Appropriate clothing
- Good health
- Regular routines
- Consistent patterns
- Safe home environment
- Supportive emotional climate
- Sensible boundaries
- Involvement & contribution
- Justice & fairness
- Withdrawal from conflict
- Unconditional love
- Mutual respect
- Confidence in child’s abilities
- Love of learning
- Enthusiastic role models
- Opportunities to learn
- Effective communication
Parents also nurture authenticity by teaching effective communication and problem-solving skills. They shy away from the “Reward and Punishment” model, acknowledging that it stifles the child’s development of self-discipline by taking away the opportunity for them to make their own decisions and learn by logical and natural consequences.
Children have are innately driven to manifest their own will and potential. The way they construct themselves is the “secret” of childhood. As adults, it is ever so important that we respect this inner construct and honor and preserve their authentic nature. .