5 BASICS FOR A MONTESSORI UPBRINGING AT HOME
The term Montessori has become quite trendy on social media these days. If you google ‘Montessori at home’ you may see beautiful Instagram images of perfectly organized shelves and playrooms neatly organized with expensive-looking wooden toys. However, it is important to remember that Montessori is not about things, but the child. Montessori goes beyond just the specialized teaching materials we find in a Montessori classroom, it is a philosophy, a lifestyle. The main difference between a Montessori education in school and one at home is that we can show our child that we respect them as an individual by creating spaces within our home for our child to grow and develop specific to their personal interests and needs.
Below are what we at Góc Montessori believe are the most central points to implementing Montessori at home for children from 0 to 5 years old.
1. FOLLOW THE CHILD
Allow your child to explore what he/she finds interesting. Do not pressure them into something they are not ready for or uninterested in, since it could create a negative experience for them. A more literal example is when going to the park we can let our child decide by themselves where they want to go and allow them to walk freely following close behind. A less obvious example would be if your child has repeatedly covered his/her face with a blanket/shirt/fabric, they may be going through an enveloping schema (the child explores what happens if cover/wrap an object and vice versa). Give them more opportunities to explore this schema by giving them purses, boxes, or tins to fill, make sock puppets, and introduce something such as Russian dolls. In other words, look at their current interests and give them opportunities to explore it further.
2. MINIMIZE INTERVENTION
In the words of Maria Montessori, “Praise, help, or even a look may be enough to interrupt him, or destroy the activity…” Allowing children to concentrate on a task they are working on uninterrupted is essential. While we want to allow our children uninterrupted time and foster their independence, sometimes we need to intervene. If we see something Dangerous, Destructive, or Disruptive we may choose to intervene. However, whenever there is a need for an intervention take the time to explain to your child why you intervened.
3. ENCOURAGE INDEPENDENCE
Foster and encourage independent behavior. Remember that, your child is experiencing everyday things for the first time in their life. Every day is filled with situations of pure joy and fascination. Often, however, this makes whatever your child is doing take much longer. During this phase give your child the freedom of time to explore these things at their own pace, so that by doing things by themselves they can discover how the world works. As adults, we often work on a specific schedule throughout the day and it can create stressful situations when our children are taking too long to complete a task- especially when we’re trying to get out the door! While it is tempting to put our child’s shoes on for them, remember this is one task our child can learn and work to gain a sense of independence and self-worth.
4. PREPARED ENVIRONMENT
As parents, we should continuously adjust our home environment to match our child’s developmental stage of independence. Instead of giving your child an enclosed play space in the living room, make necessary adjustments to your entire home (if possible) and allow them the chance to explore on their own. Much of Montessori at home includes more practical life skills such as helping clean up, doing laundry, and cooking - those everyday tasks our children see us adults doing. Without access to these areas in the home, it is difficult for children to develop those natural curiosities and independence which we can further nurture. We may not need to set up a sensory basket on our child’s work shelf if, for example, they can access our spice drawer in the kitchen. Giving our children authentic experiences that they can discover on their own is always preferred. As always, it’s important to prioritize safety - whether this means removing items that may cause dangerous situations or spending the time to teach your child what they are and are not allowed to access.
5. SET LIMIT
Teach your child limits and how to respect them. Start with the rules in your house & family and always be consistent. Consistency in the rules helps our children to learn the pattern and expectations of each situation. While it is best for children to learn and develop a sense of their own limits, there are times when we need to help establish those, especially for safety. For example, giving our child access to the bathroom may help develop an interest in self-care, however, it is essential to teach them not to handle dangerous cleaning products that may need to be left out. Not being consistent is often confusing for children and teaches that there are exceptions to the rules. A meltdown or tantrum is often the result of something unpredictable (and unwanted) happening from the child’s perspective, sometimes as a result of confusion due to inconsistency. We must set limits to allow our children to flourish safely.
We hope this gives you a better insight into what Montessori means within the home. These five points are a general guide to what we at Goc Montessori value and believe in and what inspires us to create our products.
Besides, you can read more about "Montessori at home: The first steps to setting up your home" and other articles on our Blog. Hope these articles will be helpful.