You may be thinking “what is Montessori and why does it sound so familiar?” It may sound familiar to you because there are schools everywhere (literally around the globe) with the name Montessori attached to it. It’s kind of a big deal. You could have even heard it recently on trendy mom blogs, but it's not just a trend. Its methods have been around for over a century.
Montessori is a teaching method created by Maria Montessori. This method emphasizes child independence as natural learners. It is a proven method that instills a lifelong love of learning and creates independent critical thinkers. As parents we don’t need to send our children to a special school to help foster this type of learning. With a prepared learning environment we can do that right at home even before they go to school.
To create a proper Montessori learning environment for our children at home we need to remember that independence is key. This doesn’t mean leaving your child alone and saying “good luck.” It does mean that we include our children in their home life as much as possible. Here are a few simple ways to do just that.
1. Make Dinnerware Reachable
One simple way we can help our children to feel more independent and involved is by placing their sippy cups, plates, placemats, and utensils in a reachable cupboard or drawer for them. They may not be able to fill up their cups with juice or make dinner quite yet, but they can help in the process and pick out which items they want to use.
2. Let Them Pick Out Their Clothing
There are times when we may not want our children to pick out their clothes, but letting our children pick out their wardrobe as much as possible instills independence, problem solving, and creativity. Since they are allowed to make decisions for themselves, this may even lessen tantrums when they aren’t allowed to make other decisions (like whether or not to dump their bubbles on your hardwood). You can create a drawer at their level of mix and match clothes that will look fabulous no matter what they choose. If that scares your fashionista self too much, you can let them pick out their pajamas every night.
3. Have Art at Their Level
You may have noticed a trend so far of placing things in the home at your child’s level. This is important because it shows your child that they are fully a part of the home. Art at their level lets them engage with the beauty you’ve chosen to include in your home. Maybe your main areas where guests come have normal level art, but our children’s playroom and bedrooms have low hanging art that they can see in detail. Choosing art specifically for them to interact with and talk about is important too. Things like mirrors are a great addition to playrooms and bedrooms for your child.
4. Let Them Help Organize
Make the organization in the home simple enough for your child to help in cleanup. Use baskets, bins, and trays that they can easily put their toys away in. You could also use this method for their coats or boots by the door. Hanging their coat up in the closet is probably too high right now, but a little bin with their name on it is just their size.
5. Curate Quality Toys
Less is more in a Montessori playroom. Over-stimulation and clutter can inhibit a child’s curiosity and play. It also can create tension when it is time to clean up because mounds of toys feel daunting. A simple way to combat this is by having a bin where you store toys for a couple weeks or a month and then rotate them back out. When you pull those out you’ll store another group of toys. An added bonus is that your children won’t get bored as quickly with their toys because every couple of weeks they get toys they haven’t seen in a while. Choosing toys from the get-go that stimulate curiosity and instill independence is also essential. Toys that are physically operated by your child and made out of natural materials are best for a Montessori playroom.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. People spend their lives studying and implementing Montessori. It is a well loved educational practice that is meant to show love and value for each individual child. What are more ways you can think of or that you do already to include your child in your home environment and create more independence?
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