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.

Attachment to Reality: The Importance of Real Materials in the Classroom

“Yet, when all are agreed that the child loves to imagine, why do we give him only fairy tales and toys on which to practice this gift? If a child can imagine a fairy and fairyland, it will not be difficult for him to imagine America. Instead of hearing it referred to vaguely in conversation, he can help to clarify his own ideas of it by looking at the globe on which it is shown.” – Dr. Maria Montessori

One of the most obvious differences between Montessori and your typical, conventional daycare, is the use of real materials in the classroom, as opposed to plastic toys made from synthetic materials. The pedagogy is only successful if the child has real tools to work with. One of the characteristics of a normalized child is their “attachment to reality”. We strive to provide real material as safely and practical as possible. We want children to develop real skills and habits for living in a real world.

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I use a glass mortar and pestle to grind fresh cinnamon. The sound of the crushed spice against the glass, and the fragrance stimulate my senses.

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There is absolutely nothing wrong with imaginative/fantasy play, however there is a time and a place. Play is the work of the child. Playful learning is done so through many aspects of the Montessori philosophy. Play is beneficial for children in a variety of developmental areas, and different types of play is associated with different stages. The pedagogy is dedicated to meeting all of the developmental needs of the “whole child”. Montessori guides must consider play as a developmental area, and observe and guide the children’s movement in the classroom to support their growth. These areas should contain the same preparation, analysis and sequencing as all other areas of the classroom.

“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” -Fred Rogers

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Favorite Blog of the Week: How We Montessori, Home Infant Environment

One of our favorite blogs to follow (and one that gives us lots of inspiration) is How We Montessori. They recently posted a beautiful article describing the proper layout of a Montessori Infant home environment. Check it out!

Article Source: http://www.howwemontessori.com/how-we-montessori/2016/04/montessori-infant-room-3-6-months-.html

Montessori Infant Room 3-6 months How we Montessori

Are you expecting a baby or setting up a Montessori infant room? Here are a few ideas and suggestions for the environment for a 3-6-month-old child.

The Child

The child is in the period of the absorbent mind. They are absorbing and getting impressions from everything in their environment. We want their room to be ordered, to be clean, safe and beautiful.

The child is beginning to do intentional and coordinated work with their hands and possibly hand to hand transfer. They are observing their hands coming together. Reaching out and grasping is a big part of their work. They are ready for the sensory, tactile experiences of various fabrics, rattles and balls. Rattles allow the child to experience the physical sensation of holding something in their hands; they allow the child to grasp, to let go, to shake and feel cause and effect. This is important for the developing human intelligence including myelination, and activation of the muscles of the arm, hand and fingers.

The child is beginning to move and slither, or commando crawl. They need the opportunity to move (freedom of movement), to reach a toy or to get to the other side of the room (being able to see and access their materials/toys on the low shelving). The child has greater control of their body and observing movement (wall mirror) is important.

The child has greater control of their head and can look around to observe their surroundings. They begin to visually map their room. They can look up and see the materials on the shelf and artwork on the walls. The child is developing spatial awareness and features such as an unobstructed view (floor bed) and being able to see their entire room can assist with this.

The Environment

Floor bed, board books (or fabric or other suitable books), low shelving, developmentally appropriate materials and toys, low hanging artwork, low chair, movement mat or play area, wall mirror, tactile mobiles (for batting or grasping).

 

– See more at: http://www.howwemontessori.com/how-we-montessori/2016/04/montessori-infant-room-3-6-months-.html#sthash.23tjAekM.dpuf

How can I help Prepare my Child for their Toddler Transition?

Many of our students are fast approaching the age to start preparation for the transition from the Infant Nido Community to the Toddler Community. This is a very important time in their development, as they go from being the leaders in the Infant Room, to being some of the youngest students in a completely new, toddler room. They’ve spent their entire life in the Infant community; this is a big change for them!

Our goal, and the beauty in the Montessori philosophy, is to establish consistency between the child’s home and school environment, especially during this transition. It’s important to try to prepare a Montessori environment at home, including all “things” that a child will need, use, wear and be exposed to within their immediate environments. This approach can make everyday tasks and these ‘transitions’ as your child grows, smoother and easier for children and adults alike.

What Can I do at Home to prepare my Child for their Toddler Transition?

  • Toileting:

 

toileting

According to the AMI Montessori guidelines for ages 0-3 and setting up the environment, adults can purchase a potty and keep it stored next to the diaper changing area as soon as the infant nursery is set up; thus making the toilet an everyday household fixture that “has always existed” in the child’s reality. In contrast and in most instances, the potty is suddenly purchased and appears in the child’s reality around age 2 whenever the adults decide they are ready to begin the toilet learning process.

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Montessori in the Home: Mealtime

It’s a common belief that the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in a home. We hurry about to prepare meals on time and constantly clean up after ourselves to try to always maintain a presentable and clean atmosphere; the cycle is endless. Similar preparation and effort should be put into the tools and equipment you make available to your children in their “self-feeding” area.

The dinner table is a place where we gather to socialize and enjoy one another’s company. The same can be said for a child’s self-feeding area. This is an area available to use when the child feels hungry or thirsty, and provides the tools necessary to fulfill their bodily needs. We want to try to have everything readily available at all times, so the child can complete this work independently, better developing their self-feeding skills. Our role is to model how to properly use each utensil (silverware, napkin, cup, plate, etc.) so the child can internalize the process and appreciate each delicate movement. Dr. Maria Montessori quoted, “the child can develop by means of experience in his environment. We call such experiences ‘work’.” We model how to properly pour the water from the pitcher into the cup, then how to hold the cup and carefully take a drink of water. We model how to use each utensil, displaying how to eat the food through overly-dramatic motions.  All the while, the child is internalizing each step and understanding the importance of this work. You’d be amazed at what your young ones are capable of doing when given the ability to do so.

Here we revisit the Crawford family home, taking a closer look at their eating area that they’ve prepared for their young son, complete with small furniture and tools suitable for his growing needs. Everything is set at his level so that he may eat when he is hungry, pour water for himself whenever he feels the urge to drink, and clean up afterwards, knowing where each item is to be returned.

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(Notice the satisfied expression on his face after preparing the table all by himself, the reward a filling and healthy snack; truly a Montessori child at heart!)

Teach by Teaching, not by Correcting

“The most powerful tool parents have for sharing their way of life and values is the example they set. In every waking moment of the child’s life, especially in the first three years, she is learning and becoming more and more like those people she finds around her. She will imitate the way of walking, moving and talking, the vocabulary, the handling of objects, the emotions, manners, taste, the respect and consideration (or lack of) for others, and on and on…when parents and children begin to spend more active time together the need for these lessons comes up often and can be enjoyed by both adult and child; life becomes more and more pleasant.”
-The Joyful Child, Birth to Three Years, 2010-2011 Edition

To purchase your own Montessori eating utensils for your child’s self-feeding area, visit http://www.michaelolaf.com/store

Happy Eating!

Montessori in the Home: Bathroom Layout

How you set up your home environment, including the materials you make available to your children, can greatly influence their development, both physically and mentally. Their home environment is just as important as their school environment; the two should coincide with one another to allow for a consistent level of learning all throughout the day.

Once again, we follow up with the Crawford Family Home to see the bathroom areas that they’ve created for their son. Each piece of equipment is prepared in such a way that allows him to use the toilet on his own, free from unnecessary parent intervention. A low-set chair sits beside his toilet to allow him to comfortably take off his pants/socks before he sits on the seat. Stairs leading up to the sink help him to use the faucet and soap whenever he feels the sensation to clean his hands. A small cloth is set at his height so he can properly dry his hands afterwards. His toilet is also portable, and can be placed anywhere throughout the house allowing him to use it whenever/wherever needed. By maintaining a consistent toileting process such as the one described here, the child learns to independently fulfill their bodily needs, helping them to better internalize and understand the delicate process.

What does your home bathroom layout look like? Do you find that your children can easily access everything they need?

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Montessori in the Home: Morning Routine

A child’s need for order is extremely important. As parents, we need to foster an environment that caters to their independent growth by providing enough space and materials to allow them to complete each task on their own.

Pictured below are a few glimpses into the Crawford family home, and how they’ve implemented Montessori into their daily routine. By providing adequate space and materials for their son to use, they’ve given him the ability to successfully complete his morning routine on his own. He can start each day, confidently, knowing that he will have full access to all of the materials needed to fulfill his personal needs.

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“A place for everything and everything in its place.” – Dr. Maria Montessori

 

All Things Montessori

Here are several great parent resources to help incorporate Montessori in your home!

Our blog is filled with great tips and advice for all of our “beginner Montessorians”. Be sure to follow along with all of our articles, #MontessoriintheHome, for fun, easy, and practical ideas to help implement Montessori in the home.

For Future Reading…

The Absorbent Mind, Maria Montessori

The Absorbent Mind, Maria Montessori

The Child in the Family, Maria Montessori

The Child in the Family, Maria Montessori

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The Child is Father of the Man, Silvana Montanaro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Home with Montessori, Patricia Oriti

At Home with Montessori, Patricia Oriti

The Joyful Child: Michael Olaf’s Essential Montessori for Birth to Three, Susan Stephenson

The Joyful Child: Michael Olaf’s Essential Montessori for Birth to Three, Susan Stephenson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Montessori from the Start, Paula Lillard & Lynn Jessen

Montessori from the Start, Paula Lillard & Lynn Jessen

The Secret of Childhood, Maria Montessori

The Secret of Childhood, Maria Montessori

Understanding the Human Being, Silvana Montanaro

Understanding the Human Being, Silvana Montanaro

What’s Going on in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life, Lise Eliot

What’s Going on in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life, Lise Eliot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing Toys Rattles and Mobiles

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