In this article, I’m going to share how you can get started with using the Montessori approach in your home with your child or children.
I’ve been incorporating the Montessori Method into our home for the past year and have already seen a lot of great things come from it.
What is the Montessori Method?
Montessori is an approach to education and raising children that was created by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 1900’s.
The basis of Montessori is that you provide the child with a path to become independent and capable by letting them do more for themselves.
The adult is an observer and a guide who allows the child to act, want and think on their own – helping to develop confidence, independence, and inner discipline.
As parents, we provide them with a prepared environment that will allow them to thrive.
How Can I Incorporate The Montessori Approach At Home?
There are many things you can do around the house to start incorporating Montessori into your home.
Let’s take a look at the different ways you can get started…
This is a big one for Montessori. The belief is that children should be involved with practical life skills from very early on so that they can be independent.
Practical life skills include things like getting dressed, washing hands, preparing food, setting the table, washing dishes, cleaning, and helping with yard work.
If you introduce practical life skills early on with children they will often love to be included and involved in these activities that they’ve watched us do for their whole lives.
A lot of this stuff can be introduced much earlier than most would think. For example, our toddler is helping to prepare her meals, washing her hands at a toddler-sized sink, and helping to set the table at 17 months old.
To help with practical life it’s a great idea to set things up in your home at your child’s height.
For example, you may want to leave out a small dustpan and brush at their height to allow them clean. Or purchase a learning tower that allows them to be at counter height with you to prepare meals.
If you want to help your child learn how to get themselves dressed, a small changing area (low hooks and a stool) is extremely helpful.
And you can even purchase toddler-sized yard tools (rake, shovel, etc) so that they can help with yard work.
In Montessori schools, the toddler and casa classrooms are set up in a very beautiful way that promotes concentration and independence for children.
Activities are set out on display on low shelves (usually in wooden bins) to allow the child to pick the activity they would like to use, bring it over to the table or carpet, and play with it.
Most of the play is solo play to allow the child to master certain skills that the activities are designed for.
At home, you can set up a Montessori Playroom very similar to how the classrooms look.
Many Montessori playrooms include low shelving units that are open and allow you to display the activities or toys beautiful for your child.
You also want to make sure that the activity or toy is easy for the child to access. If it contains multiple pieces it is usually placed on a wooden tray that makes it easier to carry over to a small table or carpet area to use.
It’s important that the toys and activities chosen for the playroom serve a purpose. Instead of just lighting up and making noises, Montessori toys and activities are usually designed to help with various fine motor skills.
The Montessori approach is also to limit the number of toys displayed at one time, to ensure that a child can engage with and master their activities without bouncing around too much between dozens of toys. Around 7-10 toys or activities in a playroom is what you see in most Montessori playrooms.
Your playroom should include a comfortable area for the child to read (or for you to read to your child), and if possible incorporate some artwork and/or nature (plants, flowers) at your child’s height so he or she can enjoy those too.
Since Montessori is about promoting independence for your child their bedroom should be no different.
An idea here is to have a child-size wardrobe (or hooks in a closet) that allows a child to help the process of getting dressed in the morning.
This is best done by putting out two outfits for a child to choose from if they are younger (and when they get to an appropriate age they can choose from multiple outfits).
Another suggestion is to have a self-care station that includes a mirror, hairbrush, and tissues. This allows the child to get themselves ready for the day and feel more independent and capable.
To take it a step further, some Montessori parents will childproof a toddler’s room and have them sleep on a Montessori floor bed, to allow them to wake up in the morning on their own and read a book or play with an activity (without having to be helped out of a crib in the morning).
We currently aren’t at the floor bed stage yet, but we think we are almost ready for that transition out of the crib.
Montessori In Your Home Conclusion
As you can see, Montessori is really about helping your child become independent by providing them with an environment that allows them to do every day, practical skills around the house.
Many children are capable of much more than what we give them credit for, and if we set up the home to allow them to thrive, learn and grow they can show us what they are really capable of doing!
To wrap it up here are some things you can do around your house today to start incorporating the Montessori method to parenting:
- Have activities displayed beautifully on a low shelf
- De-clutter your toys, rotating out 7-10 toys at a time
- Get a child-safe stool or learning tower for the kitchen
- Buy toddler-sized house tools (broom, mop, leaf rake, etc)
- Set up a wardrobe at your child’s height
- Include low hooks and a step stool near your home entrance
- Slow down and involve your child in more everyday activities!