Normalizations And Deviation

By Morenike Taiwo

Welcome back to the “Montessori Pedagogy.” In this column, we will expand thoughts on Normalization and Deviations. Please enjoy reading, and feel free to give feedback in the comment section on your views on this edition or even previous editions. Thank you.


Supporting Optimal Human Development - Going back to the San Lorenzo story where the discovery was made – The Bambini Children’s Home, Dr Maria Montessori in her observations of the children which led to these discoveries observed that the children had been lonely, homeless, abandoned without love and care, no element of kindness had been shown to them all their lives. All they had known was hardship, hunger, poverty lack, slavery, torture, fear, and sadness. They were not of good behaviour, they lacked grace and courtesy. They were afraid and sad. They had low self-esteem. They were disoriented and disorganized. They were extremely sick and in isolation in a dungeon, a world of their own that only resolves around their immediate surrounding and community.

Dr Montessori as a medical practitioner in her time was invited to treat them of their diseases, illnesses, and sicknesses. But as a doctor as well as psychologist, she observed that not only were the children suffering medically from malnutrition and starvation, sicknesses, and diseases, they were also suffering psychologically, socially, financially, and behaviourally, not just the children but their parents too. The way of living (lifestyle), behaviour and characteristics she observed in the children and their parents proved her observations to be developed into a theory of discovery of the child later in her life.

Upon these observations, Dr Maria Montessori decided not only to treat the children medically she also treated them psychologically by showing them love, kindness, care, compassion, and empathy. This was where the exercises of practical life activities were first introduced to help introduce, mould, and develop the children into civilized and responsible adults. It is the bid to build a responsible lifestyle and character in these children that led to the concept of normalization.

What is Normalization?

Normalization is an optimal state of being that is attained or results when the natural laws of development can naturally unfold. This is the formation and origin of development.

Is it normal for children to be noisy in class? When normalization is optimized in a classroom environment, you will find the class quiet, calm, and organized. All the children will be well behaved, going about their individual activities without disturbing others, talking quietly and slowly in order not to disturb the other children working. Every one of the children acts in such a responsible way, offering to help where it is needed and asking for help when in need. Respecting each other’s materials and body, they work with materials that are their age sized.

The approach in a normalized environment is freedom with limit. Freedom to explore any material they feel comfortable working with. Utilizing the entire day cycle of 31/2 – 4 hours work in the children’s house to the fullest. All these great feats could only be achieved when the children attain normalization and the classroom becomes a normalized environment – planned, organized and conducive work environment which is made possible collective effort of both the guide and the assistant immediately the child is enrolled in the casa. From the very beginning, the first day of the child’s school year, he is being shown where he will be dropping his bag, shoes, and coats.

This naturally implies that the child is getting introduced to a normalized classroom setting and environment. The child freely and naturally moves around to observe the whole classroom. He notices how the materials are kept in an organized manner; he also notices the flow of events – how other children gets busy with their works without any interference. The new child in the casa is absorbing all these little details to assist him in getting normalized without knowing it or meaning to. It naturally develops through his observation and exploration in the casa house.

When it is time to have break or lunch, the new child is shown where to sit for his meal, he is also shown how to tidy up after his meal. All these daily routines will also be presented to him by the guide in the practical life activities and exercises. The practical life exercises were compiled to comprise all the activities the child need to know to get normalized while still in the casa house.

Watching the video of a bean growth within 24 days planned period. Soil and light were needed for the bean to grow, the bean had the right atmosphere and the needed supplements to aid its growth, so at the scheduled planned period, it sprouted out well.  The bean growth of 24 days planned period can be compared to the Montessori growth. There is a scheduled period of growth in the casa house (between 3-6 years of age) for optimal normalization to be at its peak or be attained and achieved in a child. This process of normalization is the optimal human development that is being referred to in my introduction which is being supported in the casa house for the optimal development of the child.

Factors in establishing normalization:

1. Interest In establishing normalization, interest is key. To concentrate on the work, the child must be interested in it. The guide follows the child’s interest during her moments of observation. She observes the child’s yearning to engage in purposeful work. Interests draws the child and makes the child stay in doing an activity. It is also interest that makes the child repeat an activity several times. Interest makes the child seems tireless. It is this same interest that helps the child to concentrate, be detailed and give maximum attention to his work.

2. Concentration – In establishing normalization, concentration is another key factor. The child will never be the same after concentration has been optimized. The child needs the guide to attain concentration. Practical life activities help the child to concentrate. They are the first set of activities the guide presents to the child. These set of activities facilitates coordination of movement in the child. A child who concentrates does not disturb others. He focuses on his own work with the aim of achieving success with it. His attention is detailed in his work for optimal result.

3. Repetition – This is yet another key factor in establishing normalization. As the child concentrates, he wants to repeat the exercises and he is more connected to it. The repetition of these exercises depends on the child’s comfort level. One child might repeat an activity 10 times while another child repeats the same activity 20 times. The guide should allow every child to repeat each activity as often as he wants. No value judgement from the guide, not how slow or fast a child is. No comparing one child with another. The guide should allow the child to work, respect the child and support the process of repetition in the child.

4. The gift of time – This is yet another important factor to be considered in normalization. The guide needs to give the child the precious gift of time. The child should be free, he should not be in competition with anyone. He should be free to grow, work and practice as he is not in any competition of time with another child. He works at his own pace and time. Once the child is given this gift of time, the child begins to focus and concentrate.

It is important that the guide prepares and maintains the environment. The materials should be ready and available at the appropriate time and shelves, ready for the child’s use. Time is lesson, time is particularly important in this process of establishing normalization.

Characteristics of Normalization:

1. Love of order – This is attained when the child begins to maintain his environment without a prompt from the adult.

2. Love for work – This is attained when the child shows more interest in activities that are engaging to him.

3. Deep concentration – This is attained when the child concentrates deeply on his work with little or no interference from the adult or other children.

4. Sociability – This is attained when the child begins to engage with others. Enjoying other children’s presence. Show love and desire to serve others and willingness to help without being compelled or cajoled to help them.


What are deviations? Deviations are natural patterns of behaviour that occur in the child when he is faced with obstacles which debars him from normal path of development. Dr Maria Montessori observed this behaviour in the Bambani children that had been subjected to hardship and poverty earlier discussed in supporting optimal human development.

Deviation literally means:

DE – away

VIA – veer away from one’s path.

DEVIATION – To veer away from one’s path.

Cause of Deviation: There is only one cause of deviation. Only one factor causes this type of behaviour among children.

The cause of deviation among children is a hostile environment. When the environment the child finds himself is not conducive and favourable for growth and development. Other causes under this hostile environment are restricted movement - The child tends to have clumsy movements, which is not his fault. He is not doing it purposefully, it is the condition that surrounds him that makes him clumsy, unorganized, and disoriented.

Substitution of the personality is another cause under this hostile environment. This entails substituting the child’s personality for the adult personality – Expecting the child to be an adult when he is still just a child. Being judgemental of the child’s behaviour.

Other causes under hostile environment are abandonment. In most cases, children found in hostile environments are usually abandoned and rejected by loved ones. They have no homes and loveable families to bond with.

Types of Deviations:

Psychic fugueas - Latin – to flew – This type of deviation is seen in children that are not found in their natural environment.

These types of children do not live in the normal environment. They are brought into this unconducive and unfavourable circumstances through war, which made their parents flew from somewhere to this new unpleasant environment. They lack self-confidence.

Psychic barriers – Mental blockage – This type of deviation is exhibited in the child when connecting them to the world. It will be seen that the child’s mental awareness is blocked.

Some of the signs seen in these types of children are:

Excessive attachment – They tend to be attached to a particular thing in an extraordinary way. It could be a toy or a material that they are always with.  

Possessiveness – These children are very possessive of everything they encounter. They will not want to let go of it.

Desire for power – These children are usually power driven. They love to be in charge and in authority.

Feeling of inferiority – These children always have a complex which is usually inferiority.

Fear – These children are always afraid of everything. They fear a lot.

Lying – Because these children are always scared, fearful and afraid, they tend to be lying.

Morenike Taiwo, a Montessori Education Consultant is the chief executive of Ren-Mork Montessori Education Services.