The Montessori Lifestyle

One of our most popular parent education topics is “Montessori in the home”. I think it’s wonderful that there’s a desire for consistency between home and school. Parents are very curious as to what their child is doing in the classroom, but more importantly, parents want to know what they can be doing in their home environment to continue to help their child thrive. Consistency is key!

Montessori is a wonderful concept that can easily be incorporated into any home setting. Focus on your child’s independence above all else. Do they have everything they need to succeed independently? For example, can they choose their own clothing in the morning, is there a stool in the bathroom so they can brush their teeth or wash their hands on their own, do you have an area of the kitchen set aside for them to grab eating utensils or a drink of water whenever they feel thirsty or hungry, do they have works and activities that stimulate their senses while strengthening their concentration and inner motivation? There are several factors to consider while implementing Montessori in the home. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Develop a Routineimage (19)

Children have a great need for order and routine. The child’s sense of order is similar to a child’s thirst for water, or hunger for food. A child cannot succeed until there is order in their life. E.M. Standing said that “everything in [the child’s] environment should be kept in its accustomed place; and that the actions of the day should be carried out in their accustomed routine.” (Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work) It’s really no different than us adults needing routine in our life.

When a child knows their routine, and can predict what’s going to happen next, they’re able to be more independent. Place a few baskets in their closet, filled with clothes for the day so they can easily put them on, on their own. Offer choices as to what they would like to eat for breakfast, encourage them to help prepare the food. Place objects around the house to help them easily access the things they need (for instance, a stool in the bathroom to help them reach the sink).image (21)

Transitions are part of the child’s routine. Explain everything that you’re going to do, before you actually do them. This will help your child know the expectations, and not be surprised at the sudden change of activities.

Responsibility

Children want to have responsibility; to feel needed in their home environment. How much responsibility does your child have throughout their daily routine?dsc_0260

Encourage your child to make their bed every day, put dirty clothes in the hamper, fold/put away clean clothes, feed pets, put away toys or works after each use, help set the table for meals and clean up dishes afterwards, sweep/mop/vacuum floors, and so forth. These responsibilities don’t just come at a certain age, they can be provided as soon as your child shows an interest, or “readiness” to help around the house. Model for your child how to carry out each task, and share in their enjoyment once complete.

“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” (Dr. Maria Montessori)dsc_0306

Grace and Courtesy in the Home

Grace and courtesy is a major component of our Montessori environment. Grace and courtesy lessons give the child the vocabulary, actions, and steps required for him to build his awareness and responsiveness to those around him. When we sneeze, we cover our mouths. When we have a runny nose, we use a tissue and throw it away afterwards. We say “excuse me” when walking around others who might be in our way. We say “thank you” when a friend helps. We know not to interrupt a guide during a lesson, but to wait patiently instead. The same practice can be done so at home. If you wish for your child to say “please” and “thank you”, you must do the same.

You can provide activities to help your child learn grace and courtesy. For instance, practice setting the table. Ask your child to help bring a few dishes, napkins, silverware, etc. to the table, remember to say please and thank you after each exchange. Practice different scenarios where your child would need to use grace and courtesy to achieve the end result.

Care of Environment/Care of Self

Our children are constantly tidying up after one another. When we spill water, we clean it up. We wash our own dishes after meal times. We clean the tables and chairs whenever needed. We care for plants through watering the soil and polishing the leaves. Often times, you might see a whole classroom full of toddlers cleaning or doing “practical life” works. This is very normal. Through care of environment, the child learns self control, scope and sequence, control of error, discipline, focus, and so much more.dsc_0226

You can encourage your child to do the same at home. Allow them to tidy up after themselves. Remind them to put away works when they’re through. Clean the table after mealtime. If you have a garden, allow your child to help water and harvest. Encourage them to help bathe themselves during bath time, brush their hair, teeth, and so forth.

There are so many other things that you as a parent can do to help your child succeed, while implementing Montessori in the home. Practicing Montessori in your home is a beautiful gift that you can give to your child. By doing so, you’re allowing your child the opportunity to grow and flourish successfully in an environment prepared specifically for them.

What is my Child really learning through Exercises of Practical Life?

“If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence. It must initiate them into those kinds of activities, which they can perform themselves. We must help them to learn how to walk without assistance, to run, to go up and down the stairs, to pick up fallen objects, to dress and undress, to wash themselves, to express their needs, and to attempt to satisfy their desires through their own efforts. All this is part of an education for independence.”  Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

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I find it fascinating how children have an innate desire to be a part of a community; to belong. They want to be involved in purposeful work, and to keep their tiny communities clean and orderly. It’s not necessarily something we have to teach, but something that can come about by providing the right tools, and making sure these tools are easily accessible. We model for the child how to carry about one’s body, how to handle fragile things, that everything we do has certain steps that have to be followed, and that their are effects or consequences for everything that we do. In Montessori, we teach the child skills that can be used in “real life”, beyond the classroom. These lessons are done so through their persistent participation in exercises of “practical life”.DSC_0265There’s much to be said about the Exercises in Practical Life, and how beneficial and extremely crucial they are to the child’s overall development. It’s through practical life works that the child learns concentration, focus, scope and sequence, pre-writing skills (cleaning a table with a bar of soap from left to right in circular motions), fine and gross motor development, small and large muscle development, they develop a sense of order, and generally learn to take pride in their work. They learn to be independent young adults, free to think critically and problem solve. Continue reading

Harvesting Cauliflower

Today’s work of choice: harvesting cauliflower.

Gardening is an outdoor extension to our students’ work cycle. Maria Montessori emphasized, “the land is where our roots are, the children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the earth.” Our gardens are lush with lettuce, cauliflower, flowers, and various roots. The children harvested the cauliflower, washed it, cut it and then steamed it for lunch this afternoon. What a joy it was to prepare for one another the “veggies” of our labor!

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Happy gardening!

Flash Back Friday: 6 Ways to Promote Peace in the Classroom, Countdown to International Day of Peace

Original post: Sept. 19, 2014
A petting zoo is a great way to teach children how to gently handle and care for small animals.

“…establishing peace is the work of education” – Maria Montessori

It is our responsibility as educators to promote peace within our classrooms. Peace education starts the moment the child walks through your door on the first day of school, and should be presented in almost every work and lesson all throughout the year. Maria Montessori was a large advocate for peace education, and created her philosophy and teaching methods based on this foundational principle.

There are many ways to promote peace in the classroom that aren’t too abstract and simple to teach, especially for our younger 2 – 3 year olds. Although it is important to touch on this subject, peace education does not have to just include the prevention of war. It can start in the classroom, by simple acts of kindness, or care of the environment and others around us. The word “peace” means something different to everyone; there are an endless number of ways a child can bring peace to the community. It is our job as educators to foster a healthy learning environment that displays both peace and harmony.

Here are a few ways that you can help promote peace in your classroom: Continue reading

HBMH Youtube Channel, Now Up and Running!

A sneak peak of what’s to come! Follow our page for more videos and footage from “behind the scenes” of Healthy Beginnings Montessori House!

See What’s Happening in Our Own Backyard!

The latest in our backyard improvements: an awesome new Gravel Works area, complete with a covered tarp to provide much needed shade; blossoming garden beds filled with flowers, fresh lemon balm and basil, strawberries, peppers, and tomatoes, and a few other projects in the making. BIG THANKS to Mr. Monty, our honorary Projects Manager and Head of all backyard renovations and improvements. Donations raised from tomorrow night’s Parent’s Night Out will go towards these and many more renovations in the near future; thank you in advance for your generous donations towards the growth of our school!

Backyard Update_6.25.15Stop by the backyard to see the updates for yourself!

 

A Little Morning Mirror Polishing

 

This morning, we got a lesson on mirror polishing. Through this work, we’re given the fundamental principles for cleaning other objects in our environment. Our concentration is developed through order and sequence as we learn each step of this careful process.

“He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.” – Dr. Maria Montessori, the Absorbent Mind

 

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Flower Arranging

flower arranging

It’s not uncommon to see small flower arrangements adorning tables in a Montessori classroom. This is a work called “flower arranging”, and is a favorite for any young child. Each week, our families participate in a “flower basket” program, and bring fresh flowers for the classroom on a rotating basis. The flowers are then used for flower arranging. It’s impressive to watch a child carefully engage in this exercise. They start with putting on an apron, and then fetch water in the small pitcher provided. Now, they must control their movement while walking across the room without spilling water. If there is any water left in their small pitcher, they pour it into the tiny funnel placed in a small vase. They repeat this step several times until the vase is full. Once the flowers have been arranged, the child will display them on the shelf.  Sometimes, they change the location of the vases throughout the work cycle.  Now, they must restore the work area in it’s original condition.  Cleaning up is a big job. They must dump and wipe up all extra water on the table, then Swiffer the excess water from the floor which is usually a large area.  It’s not uncommon for a child to be engaged in this work for over an hour.

What are they learning while arranging flowers? They are refining gross and fine motor skills, concentration, self-regulation, control of movement, sequencing, eye-and-hand coordination and practical life skills.

In the toddler community the focus is on “care of self”, “care of environment” and “grace and courtesy”. Activities such as this help the children work with purpose and concentration as they move about the classroom.

“A child who has become master of his acts through long and repeated exercises, and who has been encouraged by the pleasant and interesting activities in which he has been engaged, is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his calmness and discipline.” -Dr. Maria Montessori

6 Ways to Promote Peace in the Classroom, Countdown to International Day of Peace

“…establishing peace is the work of education” – Maria Montessori

It is our responsibility as educators to promote peace within our classrooms. Peace education starts the moment the child walks through your door on the first day of school, and should be presented in almost every work and lesson all throughout the year. Maria Montessori was a large advocate for peace education, and created her philosophy and teaching methods based on this foundational principle.

There are many ways to promote peace in the classroom that aren’t too abstract and simple to teach, especially for our younger 2 – 3 year olds. Although it is important to touch on this subject, peace education does not have to just include the prevention of war. It can start in the classroom, by simple acts of kindness, or care of the environment and others around us. The word “peace” means something different to everyone; there are an endless number of ways a child can bring peace to the community. It is our job as educators to foster a healthy learning environment that displays both peace and harmony.

Here are a few ways that you can help promote peace in your classroom:

  1. Care of Environment, Self, and Others
    – Children understand the importance of peace by learning to care for their classroom environment, as well as others around them. They want to be involved in work that is meaningful and has a specific purpose; work that allows them to be a beneficial member of the community.
    I plant flowers to help keep my school beautiful.
  2. “No Bullying” Policy
    – Of course it goes without saying that your school should have a strict no-tolerance policy against bullying. Teach children how to verbally resolve their conflicts, rather than acting on impulse and physically hurting another friend. We use kind words and gestures in the classroom, and never emotionally hurt another friend by calling them names. Verbally redirect children who might need extra help and guidance in this area. Nurture a healthy environment that promotes conflict resolution skills, which in turn help increase the child’s listening, communication, and problem solving skills.
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  3. Care of Animals
    – If your school permits, “classroom pets” are a great way to teach children the proper care of animals. Allow them to be responsible for feeding the animal, provide daily water, and clean the cages, with little help from the adult (but with the proper supervision!). A petting zoo is a great way to introduce different farm animals, and to teach the children how to pet the animals gently, or to respect their space when they do not want to be bothered. Remember, we pet animals with two fingers, gently!
    A petting zoo is a great way to teach children how to gently handle and care for small animals.
  4. Respect for Diversity
    – In our school community, we embrace a mutual respect for diversity, as well as a variety of cultural and international holidays. If we teach this same respect to children when they are young, they will grow to have a deeper appreciation and understanding of all cultures. The photo below is from a display in our Multicultural Winter Program, 2013.
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  5. Yoga
    – Not only is yoga the perfect indoor exercise activity for young children, it helps build peace from the inside out! Yoga builds muscle strength, promotes concentration, and teaches the child the importance of physical exercise. This is also a healthy outlet for those with “extra energy”.
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  6. Peace Pledge
    – Reciting a peace pledge is a good practice that should be done daily in the classroom. We proudly display the World Peace Flag as an important reminder of what our school represents. The children visit the flag daily to recite the peace pledge:
    “I pledge allegiance to the earth and to all life that it nourishes, all growing things, all species of animals and all races of people. I promise to protect all life on our planet, to live in harmony with nature and to share our resources justly, so that all people can live with dignity in good health and in peace.”
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Education and peace go hand-in-hand; we must educate for peace.

Resources:
Education and Peace: the Montessori Series, Maria Montessori
Peaceful Children, Peaceful World: the Challenge of Maria Montessori, Aline D. Wolf
Peace Education: Third Edition, Ian M. Harris and Mary Lee Morrison
Celebrate! Connections Among Cultures, Jan Reynolds

Websites:
http://www.montessoriservices.com/ideas-insights/cultivating-peace-in-the-classroom
http://www.wincalendar.com/International-Day-Of-Peace (history of International Day of Peace)

Peace Quotes:
“…establishing peace is the work of education” — Maria Montessori
“If we are to create peace in the world, we must begin with the children.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“True peace, on the contrary, suggests the triumph of justice and love among all people” — Maria Montessori
“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal” — Martin Luther King, Jr.