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Lessons from 45 years

It’s amazing how much the world has changed in the 45 years I was a head of school, and in the 54 years since I graduated from the Washington Montessori Institute. And these changes, frankly, fill me with concern for our children.


I’ve learned a thousand lessons throughout my half a century in education, but to begin I will share only ten. This beginning will lead to many fruitful conversations in this blog about the needs of our various communities.


Cobb Education Consulting’s mission is to help people build communities that work. The first community is in the home. I hope you enjoy these ten simple lessons I’ve learned over a long and storied career.


1. As Maria Montessori said, children are born with specific needs and tendencies, and our job as adults is to prepare environments that meet their needs at each stage of development. What are these needs and tendencies? Love, independence, orientation, order, language, movement, repetition, discipline, purpose, exploration, and, or course, work. When a child’s needs are met, we see a centered, happy, fulfilled individual.


2. Children are born with an insatiable curiosity and want to learn. They are natural explorers, yet in this modern time, we place them in front of screens ignoring the fact that the best way for children to learn is through hands-on exploration.


3. Children want to please and feel part of their families. When conflict occurs, often it’s because a child’s needs are misunderstood. Children need to understand their roles and contribute.

4. Children thrive on routine and predictability.


5. Children want to know what is acceptable and what runs against the norms of the society to which they’ve been born.


6. Children are meant to work toward independence and will rebel if this need is not met, but they also must learn that their freedom has as limits the rights of others.


7. Children will test adults. They want to know if what you say today will be the same as what you say tomorrow. Problems occur when adults change the rules or acquiesce.


8. Parents today are filled with guilt. They struggle to see that a child who is given clear boundaries becomes a more secure individual.


9. Similarly, parents often want their child to be “happy” and think entertaining their child and showering him or her with praise will lead to happiness. Parents often indulge their children and give them too many toys and devices. This practice is misguided. The unintended consequence is that children treated in these ways become spoiled and greedy as opposed to grateful and humble — a goal parents also say they want.


10. Lastly, we should strive for simplicity in our home lives. If we design environments that are beautiful, uncluttered, and simple; if we maintain a schedule that is not grueling or exhausting; if we fill our spaces and our hearts with love and peace, children thrive.


I have been helping people build communities that work my entire adult life. This latest initiative as an education consultant is a new way to live my mission.

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Mary Lou Cobb | maryloucobb74@gmail.com | 860.670.7197 | West Simsbury, CT 

Maureen Scudder | maureenscudder99@gmail.com | 860.658.1101 | Unionville, CT