Jeannette Toulemonde – A Lie, Really ? (1969)


This article was published in partnership with the Nascita Montessori Centre of the North and its documentary collection.

(Documentary collection, EV. 1969 – Extract “Le vrai et le faux”, by Jeannette Toulemonde, founder of the CNMN and L’Enfant et la Vie)

What if we think we discover a lie in our child?

“Mom, the mistress said we should bring a roll of tape…”

A little girl would ask her mother something new every day. The mother asked the teacher and learned that she did not require anything of the kind.

She thought about her own attitude towards her daughter and acknowledged that, although she was generous with toys, she did not like to lend her the contents of her drawer: glue, pencils, etc., or buy these items from her at the stationery store.

By hearing the answer ‘no’, the little girl had found a way to acquire these objects, much more interesting for her than toys, and much more constructive.

Behind our children’s ‘lies’, we can often find a mistake on our part. This error is often too much of an influence on the child, forcing him or her to use indirect means to achieve the goal set for him or her internally.

Again, this is a deviation: the child has encountered an obstacle and is moving in another direction. Let us not be an obstacle in our children’s path.

But let us not take for lies all their words which are not true according to us.

The little child is an apprentice.

His mind is exercised, seeks; he can sometimes make mistakes. It is not by taking it back, by scolding it for a so-called lie that we will help it to see clearly.

Let’s help him with a clear atmosphere.

To a 4-year-old boy who says to his friends: “my daddy drives a big truck”, whereas this one is employed at the town hall, for example, we don’t answer naughty little liar; because it’s not on purpose that he has made reality turn sour.

An unconscious fault is not a fault.

He took, as often “his desires for realities”, it is so imposing a big truck! And he wanted his father, whom he loves, to have the pleasure of driving him.

The child always has a reason.

Let us look for this reason every time we see a disorder, a deviation. Even if we haven’t found it, let’s make it the positive atmosphere in which the defect cannot live.

Death of Jeannette Toulemonde


Dear friends,

On April 30, 2019, at the age of 92, Jeannette Toulemonde died at home in Hem in the “Nord”, in France. Thanks to her and her husband Jacques, several generations in France have discovered the strength of Maria Montessori’s work for an education for peace and freedom from birth.

Did she not write this: “A small child who is born and has parents of peace will in turn be a parent of peace” (CNMN EV documentary collection 2003)?

We have benefited from her bold initiatives, notably through her creation of the Centre Nascita du Nord, the magazine L’enfant et la vie and her book: Le Quotidien avec mon enfant – Adapting the child’s environment according to Montessori pedagogy (L’instant présent editions).

Jeannette Toulemonde had made this conviction of Maria Montessori her own and implemented it: “The art of education must be at the service of these innate forces present in each child” (in Maria Montessori, L’enfant est l’avenir de l’homme).Find or meet the writings of this personality of the Montessori movement, in a free tone on my blog “Parent-Researcher”, under the heading: Those who have made the history of Montessori education.

Odile Anot, President of the Nord Nascita Montessori Centre

Montessori : the importance of observation


Observation is a very active posture that requires motivation and will, obliges us to restrict our propensity to do.

It also leads us to question our beliefs about education in general, as well as our expectations of this particular child.

This neutral and benevolent view feeds an essential need for the child’s development, who feels under this view, this listening, that he can show himself as he is: under construction. It is also a necessity for the educator. By going to our child’s school, we enlighten our educational and pedagogical choices, in order to support his “creative energy”.

On many occasions, our trained eyes and ears bear witness to the small miracles of a child’s life as a man seeking to become a man.

We have become “observers of humanity”!

Observation of the other: a pillar of Montessori education

I observe the life around me in a floating attention and my gaze stops on Marguerite, three and a half years old, who leaves the activity room and heads towards Pablo, to whom she is close, to reach out to him in order to take place in a circle that is being formed.

He opens the circle and welcomes it.

But I am surprised, because here she is refusing to take the outstretched hand of another person who is quick to integrate her into the circle.

Is it because she knows Maud less or because it wasn’t her initiative?

My questioning is of short duration because barely two seconds pass and Marguerite turns to Maud and, and while she shrugs her shoulders high as when we are depressed, and says no to her with her head with vivacity (two gestures to mime simultaneously in order to understand the complexity of the gesture), she opens a hand (I had not seen that one of the hands was closed), and reveals to her some crafts that she has just done and which are placed there.

A precious asset that does not allow her to respond to the invitation and enter the circle completely.

Marguerite thus gives to understand in silence and with all her body, the reason for her refusal. There is in that moment, in that little girl, an affirmation of herself and an ability to pay attention to the other.

Marguerite’s moral sense, social sense and personal freedom combine to reveal the full promise of her being. All this happened in a short time – not even a minute!

And should this be specified? In a totally non-verbal communication. Who saw it? Me, at least. “Seeing, is a matter of practicing,” recalls Maria Montessori. I can’t get enough of it. This is worth gold while being totally free.

From grandfather to grandson

I listen to Philippe during a friendly meal where we are placed side by side:

“I don’t know why, but things are going well between me and my grandchildren. We talk a lot, they ask me questions on important topics.”

And the conversation is going well with this 65-year-old grandfather who tells me about his childhood history in eastern France, in the heart of a somewhat isolated village.

A little later, in the conversation, he reminds me more precisely of the moments he lived with his grandfather, whom he always knew blind and yet a good walker. And he explains as if he was still there, what was going on between them:

“He laid his hand on my shoulder and we travelled together. What could we do but talk!”

And I, immediately to make a connection, that I can’t help but point out to him:

“Philippe, this beautiful relationship you have with your grandchildren, I know where it comes from!”

All generations combined, the need for communication is in man’s nature and its implementation leaves its mark. Philippe made it a happy and lasting experience.

This makes it more natural for him to be present to his grandchildren who feel it well.

Living human relationships, as was the case during this shared meal, is a privileged opportunity to realize that our stories of yesterday and today are linked and that they have much to teach us.

Autonomy in Montessori Education


The child’s first impulse from birth, and during his formative years, is expressed in an unequivocal word: AU-TO-NO-MY.

And to do so, he demands with force, and always more consciously, activities in which he frees him or herself from the adult. This outcome necessarily involves the exercise of his will, through explorations and learning at his initiative; he gains in concentration, precision and complexity; this is how self-discipline, body, heart and mind, emerges in him.

This is best acquired when the child feels that the authority exercised towards him/her by his/her environment is good and accessible.

Gradually he/she faces the realities of life, he/she consents to the laws of “living together”, he/she honours his/her destiny within the universe to which he/she is open. He/she becomes a free being with dignity.

Montessori: The last word and the notion of autonomy

Celia, 6 years old, wants to have the last word. This is on many, if not all, occasions.

She refuses orders and requests or outbids until she wins her case, leaving them all exhausted.

Could it be her way of expressing, as best she can, this powerful human tendency that drives her, which consists in conquering her autonomy by herself?

This behaviour exceeds Marie-Adèle and Christian, her parents.

Both participating in the Parent-Researcher Workshop, on the theme “Observe to help”, they decide to pay particular attention to this delicate moment of homework every weekend, which begins under tension and ends in noisy discord. 

I encourage them to do so.

At the next meeting we take stock of the past period and I like to hear this beautiful observation-hypothesis-repair from them.

Marie-Adèle and Christian implemented their decision and that is what happened to them.

Rather than leading with “things need to be rigorous with four children” (Celia having three older brothers and sisters), and not without some very legitimate resistance – because they want to honour the law of this school where homework is essential – they nevertheless took the risk of proposing to Celia to choose the time of homework.

They have provided an acceptable framework for respecting the organization of the life of the whole family. Over the weekend, Marie-Adèle fought with herself to avoid getting carried away by the fear that the work would not be done.

Christian, for his part, remembered that he would not remind their daughter of the deal and that he would assist her when she told them that she was going to work. This she did not fail to do with clarity since she had decided: at 6pm on Sundays.

Her father let her start with the material of her choice: poetry; he refrained from drawing the lines with chalk himself as he usually did (and so straight) for writing training; he had to let go when, while she was almost finished, she suddenly needed to take a break!

Finally, she settled down at the dining room table and it was there that she did her last work with appetite, two additions. Satisfied, she went to the meal, which was peaceful.

Rather than lecturing their daughter, these parent researchers received a life lesson from her that could be explained as follows: Being proactive in your own business brings pleasure and creativity to yourself and relaxation to others.

That evening, this little girl freely exercised control over her environment (parents, the relationship to time and space), which was not an outburst, but a constructive affirmation.

She was also a teacher of herself and the last word she knew how to address it to herself by going to the end of a work to which she consented, obeying intelligently the law of others of her own free will.

I have no doubt that older children between the ages of 10 and 17 will also benefit from this courageous and unforgettable experience on the part of their parents.

Family in Montessori Education


Which parent has not found a product with a Montessori stamp? To do what with it?

According to Renilde Montessori, Maria’s granddaughter, it is not desirable to “do Montessori” at home if you think it is a question of recreating the specific atmosphere (prepared by professionals). It is very desirable to do Montessori at home by acting according to the principles of education as an aid to life that is Montessori pedagogy.

The parent’s main mission is to support as closely as possible this vital impulse that animates the child, where all this fragile and powerful human potential resides.

Is he not very well placed, the one who accompanies this child, this young man day and night during this long period of training?

He has the power to open it to the universe so that it has the keys to use it, to foster an experience of peace in the relationships forged between them, to intervene of course every time he gets lost, to witness by his own life to the essential in relation to the futile!

Living the Montessori proposal at home is free and for everyone! It is a way of being present to oneself and to the child.

This very serious path can give humanity a happy future and the joy of being that parent there with that child in today’s world.

The Importance of the Family and Parents in Montessori Education

I have been with Priscilla for eight months and she has been asking me questions live during our Skype or live appointments or by email:

  • Which low bed should I choose?
  • How wide should it be?
  • What shape?
  • Do we need colour, patterns?
  • Won’t Nina (two and a half years old) bump into the furniture at night?
  • Will she find a “real” Montessori atmosphere in the school where I enrolled her from birth?
  • Does she suffer from our three moves when I now know that she needs order to build herself?
  • I yelled at Nina, I come back to this moment very often, not her, I feel guilty, will she forgive me?
  • Etc.

There are questions and doubts when you are a young parent. I can understand it, I too have loved being enlightened in this intense period of life.

Keep common sense, choose simplicity, get enough sleep, structure space and time, dare silence rather than force the expression of feelings, surround yourself well, think for yourself, etc.

These are attitudes that this solo mother is gradually discovering.

The proof is when, after many reversals that I am accompanying, she finally cancels her daughter’s enrolment in the so-called Montessori school so much planned, a few days before the start of the part-time school year.

She decides that she wants her to stay in the nursery for a while longer, where she is finally quite well, why undo her? She plans to start school at the age of three, in a school near her new home, a school that I feel good about, she told me after meeting two schools.

On this occasion I have proof that Priscilla is dealing with reality; moreover, she reveals that she no longer has the budget, that she does not have a permit and that she now lives forty-five minutes on foot from this dream place without serious public transit. Why keep it simple when you can make it complicated?

Priscilla knew how to put her ideal and the diktat who would like in certain circles, that there should only be Montessori for recourse; here she is able to assume the consequences of this choice. The relaxation provided by this decision immediately allows Nina to enjoy a certain peace at home without waiting, isn’t that a way to approach the Montessori proposal, among others, and without waiting.

By going to reality, this courageous and searching mother did not let go of her aspirations and intuitions.

She’s on her way and Nina doesn’t want another one.

Publication of the book “Montessori at the heart of family life”, by Odile Anot


Odile Anot explores in greater depth through this book an axis that has been the common thread of her professional commitment for twenty-five years: Living Montessori outside the classroom walls.

In 230 large format pages, it summarizes its years of experience with parents, children and young people. She crosses this heritage with her many researches, readings and encounters within the Montessori movement.

In the first part, Odile Anot presents the conditions of the child’s development throughout the 24 years dedicated to his formation to become a man; then she makes public the Parent-Researcher® tool in five attitudes illuminated by Maria Montessori’s scientific and visionary contribution to an education for peace and freedom; finally she invites us to a sensitive and documented encounter with Maria Montessori’s life.

The content is illustrated by numerous examples classified under the headings: “Enfant explorateur”, “Parents Chercheurs”, “Au cœur du mouvement Montessori”, as well as quotations from Maria Montessori’s entire work in French.

A few explanatory tables, a colourful notebook, a thousand hand-selected notes and references enrich the reading of this book, which draws the whole family into the meaning of life.

To order anywhere, from your booksellers, the publisher Dunod, or your favorite websites.