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Research says that Montessori education is one of the best types of education that you can give your child. But it is also damn expensive, which explains why many parents wonder about how they can adopt the Montessori method at home.
The good news is that incorporating Montessori methods at home is possible for each and every parent because this education philosophy is based on clear principles.
One of the key principles of Montessori education is that given the right environment, every child can thrive.
Montessori believed that children were often expected to succeed in environments that did not fully consider their development. She also believed that encouraging them to participate as fully as possible in everyday family life was the easiest and most natural way to help them develop important skills.
Incorporating Montessori at home therefore means allowing your child to play an active role in their education. They should be allowed to experiment, dream, manipulate, and learn through trial and error.
The good news is that it is possible to use resources that you already have to incorporate the Montessori method in your home.
Here are five easy ways to get started.
How to get started with Montessori at home
1) Give your child chores
Julie Lythcott-Haims (the author of the book “How to Raise an Adult”), Richard Bromfielf (The Harvard Medical School psychologist) and Rossman, Professor at the University of Mississippi all agree that the earlier your kids start participating in household chores, the higher the chances that they will be self-reliant, responsible, independent and accountable.
Montessori shared the same view. She believed that allowing children to fully participate in everyday activities would help them develop important skills and teach them that they were capable of success.
Incorporating Montessori at home begins by allowing your child to feel independent.
Here are four simple chores even the youngest kids can do:
- Help set the table.
- Dust furniture at their level.
- Light sweeping. Get your child an age-appropriate broom and dustpan set and watch as they enjoy participating in family chores!
- Put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket.
This article has more tips on age-appropriate chores depending on your child’s age.
2) Provide a Montessori environment at home to help your child succeed
Montessori was convinced that many children failed to develop important skills because their environment was not set up to help them succeed.
Here are three simple things you can do to make your environment child-friendly:
- Ensure that your child can easily access the things that they need. For example, you can place everything they need to brush their teeth in one easily accessible place to allow them to reach them by themselves.
- Privilege low shelves or cube-like storage for easy access. The advantage of this type of organization is that you can teach your child to tidy up after themselves from a very early age.
- Providing tools search as a learning tower can help your child participate more fully – and more safely – in your family life. This tower will allow them to reach the kitchen counter or the dinner table by themselves while limiting the risk of falling.
Your child should be able to easily access whatever they need for their everyday life without your intervention.
3) Choose age-appropriate tools
Choosing age-appropriate tools makes it easier for kids to participate and succeed in everyday activities.
- Age-appropriate cutlery can help even the youngest kids learn to eat by themselves.
- If you provide even young children with kid-friendly knives, they can participate in preparing family meals by slicing soft fruits and vegetables.
- Providing appropriate pitchers or water dispensers will help your child serve themselves without help.
- Setting up Montessori at home involves fostering your child’s autonomy every day
Montessori education revolves around fostering children’s autonomy. This can look like:
- Allowing your child to choose the activities in which they would like to engage.
- Avoiding doing things for them if they can do those things by themselves.
- Making it easy for them to succeed. For example, avoiding shoes with laces or pants with zips will make it easier for your child to dress by themselves.
- Using “Day of the Week labels” to help increase their independence. For example, these labels can help your child know what they need to take to school on specific days of the week (sports, swimming, art, etc.).
Here are FREE LABELS that you can download and use with your child.
4) Encourage your child to learn from nature
When Montessori first began teaching orphans in rural Italy, all she had were the simple and natural materials that she found in her environment. Montessori education has continued to privilege natural and simple materials to spark children’s creativity.
Montessori also believed that keeping things simple reduced distractions and was therefore beneficial to child development.
Here are three simple things that you can do start the Montessori method at home:
- Allow your child to observe the world around them as often as possible. Help them connect with nature by encouraging them to touch different textures and to smell the different things that they come across.
- Reduce your children’s toys. Contrary to popular belief, too many toys distract your child and stifle their creativity, and there is scientific evidence to back this claim! The less toys children have, the higher the chances that they will explore other options in their environment.
But that does not mean that you should banish all toys – adopting a toy rotation system can help increase your child’s engagement with their toys and also encourage them to connect with their environment.
- Ensure that your child gets to play outside as often as possible. Playing with others will teach them about cooperation and help them develop important skills.
Easy tips to incorporate the Montessori method at home
When Montessori first began teaching orphans in rural Italy, she used only the simplest materials available in her environment – and these worked!
In other words, incorporating this method does not have to be a costly affair involving the buying of multiple Montessori-inspired toys. You probably already have many things that you can use to engage your child in their learning and to help them develop important skills such fine motor and problem-solving skills.
Here are five simple activities that you can do with toddlers with objects you already have at home
1) Take an old tissue box and fill it with strips of brightly colored fabric or with ribbons or scarves. Let you baby pull them out and stuff them back in again. This is a great activity that will help develop their fine motor skills.
2) All kids love building blocks, right? Why not make your child their very own personalized blocks using boxes you already have at home? Medium-sized boxes such as the ones that have tea bags are great because they are just the perfect size for little fingers.
If you want your child to work on their fine motor as well as on their visual perception skills, wrap up the boxes using brightly colored paper or paper with highly contrasting colors and you’re good to go!
3) Are you looking for an activity to help your baby strengthen their leg and foot muscles? Stack blankets and pillows and watch as they learn to crawl over them. This activity requires your supervision to avoid accidents – and to ensure that your baby goes over rather than around the obstacle!
4) Stacking toys are among the easiest toys that you can make. Get your baby objects that they can stack – large plastic cups, small plastic containers, small boxes – and watch them as they build pyramids and knock them down again.
5) Your child will love strengthening their gross motor skills by crawling through a cardboard tunnel. Just make sure that you choose a box that is sufficiently big and sturdy.
Remember to always supervise toddlers to avoid all risks.
Setting up Montessori methods at home for preschoolers
We now know that children prefer to engage in real activities than in make-believe play. In other words, they prefer:
- To help in preparing the family meal
- To help participate in household chores using age-appropriate tools
- To be trusted to succeed by themselves
To incorporate Montessori methods at home with your preschooler, a good place to start is to reflect on how you can organize your environment in a way that increases your child’s sense of autonomy.
Also, routines are a common feature of Montessori education and they work because they provide your child with consistency and a sense of security which is important for their development. Morning, after-school and bedtime routines are easy ways to get started!
If you would like to incorporate the Montessori method at home, don’t forget to live by Montessori’s famous quote about what every child’s wish: “Help me to help myself”.
References and further reading