With attachment parenting, homeschooling, and all sorts of once-considered “alternative” methods of raising children on the rise, it’s no surprise that Montessori schools are also gaining popularity. Caregivers are seemingly much more in tune with their children's mental and emotional needs and are taking those into consideration when choosing an education method. If Montessori school isn't an option for your child, or you just want to use Montessori-inspired parenting, there are many ways you can implement the Montessori principles at home.
“Montessori is an individualized approach to education for children from toddler through high school that helps each child reach full potential in all areas of life. It is a student-centered approach that encourages creativity and curiosity and leads children to ask questions, explore, investigate and think for themselves as they acquire skills.” - The Canadian Council of Montessori Administrations
10 Free Exploration
Allowing children to explore their environment freely is an important principle of Montessori. Parents should ensure the areas of their home are child-safe, and then allow the little ones to roam freely and play naturally, following their own curiosities.
While this may take some getting used to as a caregiver, watching your child learning as they go is a very rewarding experience. Toddlers especially will be able to learn using their senses and develop independence they may not experience if they are confined to a specified area.
9 Hands-On Learning
Montessori encourages children to move around the classroom and engage with a wide variety of activities available. This differs greatly from the traditional classroom where students sit at a desk and a teacher stands at the front of the room giving verbal instructions or lessons. Allowing children to use their hands to learn as they manipulate an object or complete a task improves their ability to retain the information.
You can practice this at home with your children, by demonstrating things when they ask questions, instead of just explaining verbally. For example, if you bring out a new toy, you might show them once how to use it, and then let them explore it for themselves.
8 Practical Life Activities
Practical activities help children learn to care for themselves and their environment and encourage them to develop concentration, coordination, and independence.
Toddlers start out by learning how to get dressed, exploring how to use a fork or spoon while they eat, and going up and down the stairs independently. As they get older you are able to have them help with things like making dinner, simple cleaning tasks, and helping younger children.
7 Child Size
Montessori educational methods value giving children child-sized real versions of tools and materials. For example, using the small metal Ikea kitchen utensils when having them help in the kitchen, instead of plastic toy utensils.
Most often real tools and materials are of a higher quality, which means they work better and therefore are easier for the child to use. This also allows the children to have a more authentic learning experience, and become educated on the safe ways to use their materials.
6 Orderly Environment
Keeping an orderly environment may seem impossible with babies or toddlers around, but it is one of the core principles of Montessori education. They strive to have very few toys so that children aren’t overwhelmed and can concentrate on what they’re doing instead of getting distracted. This also makes it easier for the kids to clean up after themselves because there is so little to put away.
Purging your children’s playroom will not only give you satisfaction, but it’ll be a more peaceful environment for your child as well!
5 Simple Toys
Simple one-function toys are important to the Montessori method, which is why simple wooden toys and books are prioritized over brightly colored plastic toys with buttons and sounds. Simple toys allow children to be creative and use their imagination while playing, instead of learning what the toy “does”.
For example, stacking blocks can be used for counting, color matching, tower building, shape sorting, and more! Gradually shifting your toy collection away from typical plastic toys can help your children shift their mindset when learning and playing.
4 Nature/Music Emphasis
Montessori highly values both nature and music in their educational methods. Spending quality time in nature, exploring their senses is extremely important for children to feel connected to the earth and their environment. They also learn compassion by tending to house plants, growing vegetables, and caring for animals.
A variety of music can be played in your home throughout the day to expand children’s creative minds, and encourage dancing and singing as a form of expression. You can also include some instruments in their play area that they can explore and create music with.
Repetition is a value of Montessori education that improves a child’s skills simply by allowing them to repeat a task as often as they choose to. The act of repeating something over and over may seem boring or foreign to older children who have not learned this way in recent years, but it is the way all babies and toddlers learn in the beginning.
Repetition also encourages children to better develop their concentration, self-discipline, and love of work, which truly benefits every area of their lives. If you trouble is struggling with concentration try removing some of the toys and distractions from their environment, as mentioned above, and see if that improves their focus.
2 Uninterrupted Work
Montessori schools have specific uninterrupted work periods, typically 2-3 hours in length and all taking place in one environment. This differs from traditional public schools where students may spend 30-40 minutes on one subject and then move on to the next, sometimes transferring classrooms in between.
The long work period allows children to engage fully with the materials and concentrate for a longer period of time. Encouraging children to do the same at home can help improve their diligence and focus on the tasks they are working on.
1 Teaching Roles
In Montessori education, teachers don’t stand at the front of the class and educate the students. The role of the teacher is to observe and guide children when needed, being mindful of children’s changing interests, developmental needs, and emotions.
You can implement this at home as well, choosing not to correct children (unless they are being unsafe), and allowing them to play freely without any instructions. Without busy lives and strict schedules, this can sometimes be hard to do, especially if your child is practicing their life skills by dressing themselves when you’re running late to an appointment! Caregivers will find that practice and repetition will help them too!