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.

Aiding to the Construction of the Child’s Intelligence through the Education and Exploration of the Senses

When infants first interact with the world, they don’t have words to describe what they encounter, so they absorb their surroundings and new information through their senses. They experience the external world through the use of their senses. Our eyes help us see, our ears let us hear, our hands help us feel, our noses let us smell, and our tongues help us taste. feet

Children are spontaneous learners. Every day is a new opportunity for a child to learn. You can use almost anything surrounding you to help stimulate a child’s senses. Begin by experimenting with different smells, watch their expressive language for likes and dislikes. Visit a park, find nature objects to touch, taste, smell, using language to describe what you’re experimenting with. Children respond differently to sensory experiences. These experiences can greatly improve their motor skills, raise awareness of the world around them, and contribute to language acquisition. They can also be quite therapeutic. Enhancing and building upon the child’s senses helps improve their social, emotional, cognitive, physical and language development.basil

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An Inside Look Into Toilet Learning the “Montessori” Way

Did you know that potty training, or “toilet learning”, as we call it, should start before 18 months of age? In our school, children begin the toileting process as soon as they can pull themselves up and support their bodies. It’s not about setting high expectations, assuming child will learn how to use the toilet and control their bladder right away, but more of establishing a routine, and providing all of the tools the child needs to succeed. In time, they will recognize that using the toilet is a common routine. They will internalize the concept, ‘my urine goes in the toilet, not in my diaper or on the floor’. They recognize that you respect their time and space by providing a safe place for them to fulfill their bodily needs. Each meticulous step in the toileting process, is a step towards the child’s overall independence and self confidence.

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

Look Who’s Talking! A Child’s Thirst for Language Development

“Words are your [child’s] best friends. They are bridges of understanding and passages that seed all of humanity.” (Montessori Today, Paula Polk Lillard)

A child thirsts for new language like they thirst for water. They crave new language experiences for many reasons; to be in touch with their surroundings, engaged in their environment, and to communicate with others around them. We want to provide a variety of language opportunities for children, especially between the ages of birth to six years, when the child is in the “sensitive period” for language development.

At HBMH, our community is well equipped with language-rich learning opportunities. We talk to the children and adult with respect, modeling how to interact in a positive, productive way. We model grace and courtesy so the child understands proper social interactions. Every lesson is an opportunity to expand upon the child’s language development.

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In Montessori, we discourage talking to a newborn in a “baby voice”. Instead, we carry on conversations and talk to them as if talking to another adult. We share stories with them, and encourage them to respond. We “coo” in response to their little noises to show that their words and noises matter, and that they can communicate their needs through language. Our tone of voice conveys a specific message and emotion. We tell them what we’re going to do before we do it. For instance, “I’m going to pick you up”, or “I’m going to wipe your nose”, and so forth. Continue reading

Dressing

#concentration #Montessori #toddler #preschool #dressingself #independence #shoesandsocks #lifeskills

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Letting Your Child Help in the Kitchen

Boy Slicing Bread

“Influenced, perhaps, by my early experience at a Montessori school… I am all for encouraging children to work productively with their hands…. It is good to give them knives, for instance, as early as you dare…. to slice a hard-boiled egg neatly and then to fillet a fish. Talk to children as you plan menus. Let their small, sensitive noses sniff the fish as you shop.”
—Julia Child, Julia Child & Company

Julia Child encouraged children as young as four years old to fillet fish! But, don’t worry – you can start small and work up to such gourmet endeavors. Young children have a keen desire to participate in everyday family life and love to help in the kitchen. With your guidance they can learn to do so much: preparing snacks and meals, serving, and cleaning up are fun activities that support your child’s growing independence and contribute to the family’s well-being.

The Child-Friendly Kitchen

A child-friendly kitchen includes a low table and chair for eating or working and a low cupboard equipped with child-size dishes, flatware, cooking equipment, and non-perishable food. Reserve a low shelf in the refrigerator for a container with prepared snacks such as cheese and apple slices, and a child-size pitcher of milk or juice. Show your child how to safely grasp, carry, and pour from the pitcher with two hands. Continue reading

The Developing Will

Troy

A child’s transition to a new room can be quite overwhelming. From meeting all of their new friends and teachers, to memorizing the daily routine and expectations of the room, it can be a bit much for a young toddler to take in all at once. For some, it can take several weeks or even months until they are fully comfortable with their new environment. As parents, it’s heartbreaking to hear our child cry out with emotional distress after being dropped off in the morning. You think to yourself, “Why are they so upset?”, “Did I do something wrong?”, “Are they crying because they’re unhappy at school?”. We blame ourselves. And that’s completely normal.

Our little ones transition within the community all throughout the year, when they reach the appropriate age. It’s heartwarming to see a new child enter the community. The older children take it upon themselves to greet the younger ones each morning with a warm hug or hand shake. It’s not uncommon for the new child to take several minutes to adjust to the day’s routine, clinging to their backpack/jacket for several minutes, observing their surroundings and watching their friends work before they choose an activity of their own. We give them the opportunity to enter the room at their own pace, setting the tone for their morning work cycle. We don’t rush them, but rather let them take their time hanging up their backpack and taking off their shoes, giving them emotional support as needed.

As parents, our natural reaction to a crying toddler is to linger nearby until we know for sure that they are OK, almost as if to reassure them that you are there. As innocent as it seems, this can actually hinder their development, as they will only continue to cry, possibly even louder, knowing that you are waiting just around the corner. A confident, positive, brief farewell before walking into class is the best, most beneficial way to start the day. “I hope you have a good day, I’ll be back after work to pick you up, I love you” is a promise that you will return at the end of the day to pick them up, and that it is OK to be apart from one another for a short while. If you show confidence in your actions, your child will pick up on your ques and do just the same. Of course, this system is not full-proof. Every child is different. There will be the occasional days where they will not want to leave your side, and will insist on entering the community kicking and screaming, only making you feel even more guilty. Relax. Everyone goes through this! This is the act of the “developing will” within your child. They are learning to distinguish between what they do and don’t want to do, in comparison to your expectations for them. Continue reading

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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