Maslow’s hierarchy of needs applied to Montessori

What is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? It is a theory of motivation, proposed in 1943, which states that five categories of human needs dictate an individual's behavior. We have to fulfill our basic needs, at the bottom of the pyramid, before moving to more advanced needs.

When applied to our children, that helps to understand that our children must feel safe and loved before they will show interest in exploring their environment, playing independently, or sleeping without our reassuring presence.

Maslow's pyramid applied to Montessori

I had fun applying the theory to Montessori.

Our children's most basic need is love, no matter how much Montessori you do at home!

And unconditional love.

It's hard to give it if we haven't received it. You might have to work on it to avoid projecting your desires on your child. As Maria Montessori said, "of all things, love is the most potent."

Then, before buying an extra toy or turning upside-down the furniture, work on yourself!

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How we react, feel, and cope with our children's emotions and behaviours has so much to do with our mental state, past, and how we were raised. Parenting is a wonderful opportunity to heal, don't miss it.

I've written on how to start a therapeutic process here

Freedom with limits, the prepared environment and observation are maybe equally important.

Montessori is about freedom but not total wrecking freedom. It's within limits. Your children need to be and to feel safe. And we need to keep the people around them safe as well (including us).

Observation of course is another important element. The more you observe, the more you prepare, the more you give them what they need. Based on your observations, you prepare a space. The prepared environment will allow your child to explore and learn, and be independent. 

And at last, the cherry on the cake is all the toys, materials, activities that your child will have at their disposal. But none of them will be useful if their basic needs are not met. No matter how beautiful, expensive, and well-made they are!

What do you think? Would you do that order or do you think some other "needs" should be represented?

About the Author Carine Robin

Carine Robin has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, specialising in child psychology. She worked for various social services in her home country of Belgium, before moving to Ireland in 2006. It was there that she started working in a nursery and discovered Montessori education. After having her first child, her passion for the philosophy grew and she qualified as a Montessori teacher and managed a preschool. Carine has been running a Montessori based parents and toddler group and coaching families for 9 years. She now also runs an online group for over 14000 parents, sharing her knowledge and passion with people from around the world. In 2018, Carine realised families needed more support and launched her popular online parenting courses and monthly subscription boxes, full of personally designed Montessori materials.