Sometimes when parents first come across Montessori, they feel overwhelmed, like they need to turn their house upside down to create the perfect Montessori environment.
While a beautiful, Montessori-inspired space is great, it's not necessary and definitely doesn't have to perfect.
There's lots of little ways to bring the Montessori approach into your life without rejecting everything you were already doing (and throwing away all your child's toys!).
Below are five easy ways you bring Montessori into your home:
1. Allow your child the opportunity for independence where possible
This is something you might already be doing but if not, it's a great place to start.
Montessori encourages allowing children to do what they're capable of, whenever possible, and it's often so much more than we think.
With kids and busy schedules it can be easy to want to just do things for them - dress them, make their plate of food, and clean up their messes but there's so much to be gained by allowing children to do things for themselves, even if it can be a painfully slow process :)
With some patience and guidance, there's lots of things we can ask our children to help with or do themselves, like:
- putting away their coat and shoes when they get home
- dressing themselves
- setting their place at the dinner table (or everyone's place when they're ready!)
- helping to prepare meals (the learning tower is a great tool for this!)
- making their own plate of food (as a bonus this is something that people also find helpful to manage picky eating, as referenced in the book "How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen")
Really there are so many things when you slow down, give them a chance, and take the time to explain to them how to do it.
Sometimes to allow for your child to do some of these things, you have to make changes to your home, like putting their dish ware in a more accessible place, or putting hooks low enough that they can hang their own coats, but the payoff will be a much more confident and independent child.
2. BUILD TRUST WITH respect
Montessori believed in respect between parents and children and she's not the only one.
In the book, The Myth of the Spoiled Child, Alfie Kohn argues that children aren't becoming more spoiled, like every generation insists. Rather we're just treating them more and more like humans, with independent thoughts and feelings. Not such a crazy idea when you think about!
Some days it can be hard to deal with the overwhelming emotions of our young children but nonetheless, we should strive for a respectful relationship. One that listens and hears their concerns.
To Montessori this meant, getting down to your child's level and taking the extra time to explain and talk through their thoughts, feelings, and worries.
Young children can be overwhelmed and scared so easily. We often forget how new to world they are and how they're still learning to communicate.
3. Teach children how to care for their environment
"The child should live in an environment of beauty"
Montessori believed that a child's environment is a key component to learning. Yes, there are more strict ways to setup Montessori in your home but if you're just getting started, don't stress about the details.
What's important is that your child learns to care for their things and the things in their environment.
This can simply be reminding them to handle their toys with care, watering the plants, cleaning up after a meal, or making their bad.
One Montessori activity that I absolutely love is flower arranging.
Not only does it show our children how to create a beautiful space but teaching toddlers and young children how to follow step-by-step instructions is another the steps are a
4. Help children focus on one activity at a time
“The child who concentrates is immensely happy.” —The Absorbent Mind
While some Montessori materials can be expensive, the beautiful thing about Montessori is that less is more.
Maria Montessori and other researchers have found that children learn through repetition. Performing the same actions over and over help establish neural connections, cementing a concept in a child's brain.
To do this, try to help them choose just one activity or toy at a time, placing it back in its place before choosing a new activity. This helps children focus and prevents them from becoming overwhelmed by a room cluttered with toys all over the ground.
5. Follow your child's interests
This concept is so simple but it helps your child develop a true love of learning. If your child shows interest in something, whether it be birds, the beach, or even ice cream, provide them with opportunities to explore that interest.
Don't feel the pressure to create the perfect Montessori-themed shelf for every interest. This can be time-consuming to regularly organize. As parents, we already have so much on our plate!
It can be as simple as getting books from the library on the topic, exploring the topic out in the world (i.e. going for a walk to look for different kinds of birds), printing out some information on the topic from the internet and talking about it, or doing a simple craft related to that topic.
Showing interest and supporting your children's curiosity will do wonders for their confidence and love of learning.
If you have any questions about implementing Montessori in your home, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.