Montessori at Home 101: Where to Start?
The best way to start implementing Montessori at home is to cut yourself some slack. When Dr. Maria Montessori created her terrific education method, the world was a very different place. There were no digital distractions, screens, phones, video games, and social media doing their best to grab your child’s attention.
Still, this doesn’t mean that your aspiration to create a healthy Montessori environment is destined to fail. On the contrary, it only means that you should pace yourself and set realistic expectations. Creating a loving Montessori home is one of the best things you can do for your child, so don’t be afraid of adding your personal touch or a modern twist to the traditional Montessori rules.
Even if this means that right now, you can just replace the battery-operated toys with the Montessori ones- it is still a good starting point. If you make a little extra effort and choose Montessori toys by age - you’re already one step closer to your goal.
Let’s start with some basic principles of Montessori and then dive into different ways to make your home more Montessori-aligned.
Montessori Parenting Principles
If there is only one Montessori principle that you can incorporate into your parenting style, let it be this - be a guide, not a leader for your child. The core of the Montessori philosophy is the child. Their quest for independence and growing into their full potential is possible only if they can develop at their own pace.
Adults are not there to be the leaders on this path. They are there to be guides, protectors, enablers, and supporters. This overarching Montessori principle goes hand in hand with some more specific parenting rules. Here are some of them for you to consider.
Put Your Montessori Parenting Glasses On
Teach Real-Life Skills
Show Rather Than Tell
Promote Inner Motivation
How to Start Montessori at Home?
The best way to start is to go through your home and figure out what is some “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to turning your home into a Montessori space. Are there some things you can easily rearrange and adapt to make them more child-centered? Take these principles into consideration and make the changes you can.
After you revise what you already have in your home, let’s dive into recommendations about how to do Montessori at home, room by room. Consider these tips and see what can work for your space.
- Consider a floor bed instead of a crib. Floor bed allows your child to get in and out on their own without your help, promoting independence.
- You can create a changing area for infants, low shelves, or wardrobes for toddlers and preschoolers. It’s vital that your child learns how to dress themselves.
- Limit toy options. If you have enough space in your home, don’t overlap your child’s bedroom and playroom. Use your living room space for that instead. A toy or two is fine, but this area should not be stimulating.
- Consider relaxing, pastel colors and minimalist design.
- As your child grows more independent, create a care-of-self station.
Proper hygienic habits are not just healthy but also critically important for your child’s development and independence.
- Make the toiletries accessible for your child. They should have their own basket with supplies, towels that they can reach, and personal hygiene products in small packaging.
- Ideally, install a washing station for children. If that’s not an option, put a stool in your bathroom so your child can reach the sink.
- Install a mirror at your child’s level so they can use it.
- Depending on your child’s age, put a potty chair in the bathroom or a seat resizer on your toilet.
Montessori Kitchen and Meal Time
Another essential life skill is preparing your own food. Ensure your child is comfortable around the kitchen and can take care of their own nutrition. Naturally, infants won’t be able to participate in these activities. Still, you should carry or wear them in the kitchen to include them in everyday activities and family life. As for your toddlers and preschoolers:
- Add a table and a chair that’s appropriately sized for toddlers and teach them to set up their dining area. However, don’t forget to join them for their meals.
- Preschoolers should have special step stools that allow them to sit independently at the adult table.
- Make appropriate kitchen cutlery and utensils always available for your child. Low shelves are great for this.
- Use a Kitchen Helper so your kids can reach the tap, sink, and other kitchen surfaces.
- Install tap openers if necessary.
- Teach your children table manners by example.
- If you have the resources, DIY or buy a toddler functional kitchen.
- Make a low shelf with cleaning supplies, mops, and brooms.
- Involve your child in food preparation to the best of their abilities.
- Create a recipe board for your toddlers and preschoolers.
- Have healthy snacks available at all times.
- Offer Montessori-aligned toys. These are mainly close-ended toys, but they can be open-ended, too.
- Don’t clutter your child’s space with too many toys. Offer only several different options and take away the rest. When your child loses interest, it’s time for a toy rotation.
- Use trays for quick access to items like puzzles and building blocks. You can also make seasonal trays and nature observation trays.
- Store books so they are always facing forward. Kids can have a hard time recognizing books by their spines.
- Use floor mats for comfort and designated areas.
- Incorporate plants or nature-themed art, prioritizing purpose over material in toy selection.
- Avoid fantasy-themed patterns, books, decorations, and similar items. These can be confusing for young children who have difficulty separating fantasy from reality.
- Add a desk and chair for arts and crafts, drawing, and similar activities.
What Are Some Good Montessori Activities?
Promoting independence doesn’t mean that you should be absent from your child’s daily life. You should participate in their activities and make sure that they feel recognized, loved, and cared for. The key is to allow them to do their own thing independently and not do things for them.
Your presence is essential because you want to teach by example and model your child’s behavior according to your own. That is how you install good values from an early age and bond with your child. Here are some Montessori-aligned activities you can enjoy with your child at different periods of their development.
Montessori Activities for Infants
- Tummy time - start with shorter periods of time and work your way up. The idea is to start strengthening the neck muscles and help your baby’s development.
- Enable rolling over - your baby will start rolling when they are ready, but you can encourage them by allowing enough space to do it.
- Encourage standing - you should be ready when your baby reaches this milestone. Give them the space they need to practice and even some prompts. Large cushions can help them as a form of support.
Montessori Activities for Toddlers
- Sorting toys and games - you can either offer your toddler different sorting toys or improvise with different cups, boxes, and other items in different sizes.
- Matching games - This can be as easy as matching lids with their containers or something as challenging as Montessori Geometric Eggs that include matching shapes and colors.
- Watercolor painting - at this period, many toddlers will enjoy watercolors. It is not as challenging as oil paints but rewarding and creative.
- Playing with a busy board - it doesn’t get much more fun than that! All those buttons, clasps, zips, and other interesting items to explore mean hours of educational fun.
- Snack preparation - at this age, your toddler is able to cut up some bananas for a snack or spread some cream cheese on a piece of toast.
Montessori Activities for Preschoolers
Different children develop at a different pace. Observe your child and learn their favorite activities and what makes them the most engaged. Plan your time with them accordingly and guide them toward becoming increasingly independent and self-sufficient. Here are some suggestions:
- Baking and preparing meals - cooking is a beautiful way to bond with your child. It is a sensory experience, inspires a sense of achievement, and offers noticeable, tangible results.
- Complex grading and matching activities - your toddler is probably able to match colors. Now your preschooler needs to learn to grade the colors from the palest to the most saturated shade of the same color. Matching according to texture is another way to make your usual matching games more exciting.
- Finding rhyming words. Offer your child an object and get them to find another one that rhymes with the one you gave them.
- Obstacle run. Create an obstacle run for your child inside your home or outside. Either way, it’s essential that they practice their gross motor skills.
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