The Joyful Child

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The Joyful Child: Montessori, Global Wisdom for Birth to Age 3

by Susan Stephenson

This book offers wisdom and support for parents and Montessori guides alike. It helps us all look for, discover, appreciate, and support the mental, physical, and emotional needs of the child in the first three years of life.

There are over 180 black and white pictures from the author’s work around the world with children from birth to three years of age. "The Joyful Child" is used in Montessori teacher training centers, middle school human development classes, birth preparation classes, and it is of interest to anyone studying education and child development.

About the Author

Susan Stephenson holds AMI diplomas at the 0–3, 3–6, and 6–12 levels, and shares in her writing some of what she has learned and taught in her travels in the USA, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sweden, and Russia. You can learn more about her at her website: 


Introduction, Silvana Montanaro, MD

PART ONE, The First Year
  • The Senses
  • Reaching Out and Grasping
  • Sitting Up and Working
  • Crawling, Pulling Up, and Standing
  • The End of the First Year: Unique Development and the Child's Self-Respect
  • Care of Self, Others, and the Environment
  • Toys and Puzzles
  • Music
  • Language
  • Art
  • People
  • Plants and Animals
  • Physical Science and Math
  • Age 0-3: Preparing the Environment
  • Age 0-3: Parenting and teaching
  • How I Weaned Myself (A Child's Perspective)
  • Comparison of Montessori Assistants to Infancy Practice and Birth-Three Traditions in Bhutan
  • Maria Montessori
  • The Assistants to Infancy Program 

    Praise for The Joyful Child

    "The Joyful Child adds so much to our Human Development class. Its use brings alive the imaginative challenge of thinking about parenting, and it guides adolescents to think kindly about themselves and others."

    —Ann Jordan, Montessori School of Lake Forest

    "The Joyful Child' gives both practical information and tremendous inspiration for all who are involved with the child from the time before birth through the age of three. Brilliant and essential reading!"

    -Cathryn Kasper, Montessori teacher, school consultant, and grandmother.

     "Susan Stephenson embodies Montessori principles in prose so clear and simple that anyone with an open heart can apply them to their culture. In this guide to the first three years of life, she describes what a baby needs and how easily we can meet those needs if we observe and respect what he teaches us. This is an inclusive book for every new parent and earlier versions have been translated into six languages. Teachers and administrators at all levels will see preschool, elementary, and adolescent students with new eyes when they understand the potential of children in the first 3 years of life."

    —NAMTA, North American Montessori Teachers Association

    Susan Stephenson's book truly reflects the spirit and purpose of Montessori in a way that makes the philosophy translatable to both new parents and veteran Montessorians. Susan's passion for the pedagogy, her extensive experience, and her world travels resonate as she explores the universal, emotional, and psychological depths that construct the child's development.

    —Virginia McHugh, Past Executive Director of The Association Montessori International USA