Hi there! In this next blog, I dig deep into Montessori techniques that help you set up your house and the environment at home to engage with your child, whether she’s 18 months, or he's a 3-year-old.
These are five key basic practices for you to start building a Montessori-friendly home right from the get-go. No hassle, painless practices that really work.
Just a quick reminder before we start: Montessori is an educational philosophy that teaches your child independence, order, coordination, concentration, respect, and awareness of the world. For it to work, you need to be patient and give your kid time.
Time is crucial for these 5 basic Montessori techniques to work. As time goes by, you will add on them, trust me. With that cleared out, let’s get started:
It is the first thing that you need to do. Observe your child while at work, that is, while playing. I know what you’re thinking: “I don’t have time.” Well, I invite you to make time. Observation is magic. You must watch what your child does even if it’s a baby!
The best way for you to keep track of all this is by writing it down in a notebook. Why not record it on your phone? The idea is for you to reduce screen time for your child and yourself. As Montessorians, we put mobiles away :)
This is how you’ll learn if something overwhelms your child, what draws its attention, how he gains knowledge, interests, and challenges her at a certain moment. This observation allows you to see if you need to change materials or activities in case that they are too easy or too difficult for your kid.
Let’s say you observe your child throws things, pouring, or opening containers. Instead of telling her not to do it -it’s intuitive so don’t feel bad if you do- you can adapt your environment to suit those needs with the appropriate materials: throw balls, water cups and trays, Tupperwares, or any other safe household containers.
Basically, what observation helps you do is redirect that particular need towards the right activity, which takes me to the second technique.
Essential tip: On the first day, observe just for 1 minute and write down as much detail as you can. The next day, two. And so on.
Montessori is about having everything available to your child within limits. Your child needs an environment that it’s accessible (low shelves provide just that) to promote independence, curiosity, interest, and concentration. Coffee tables and TV stands do the trick also :)
Let me empathize something here, though. Less is more. If you watch your child losing interest very soon, it may be because there are too may toys around. I recommend using a few materials. You can place materials from the different areas of the Montessori curriculum and keep them accessible for your child until she loses interest. You can take them away and put them in a closet or the basement, and offer them again in a month or so.
Also, include real chores and other daily household activities like making a salad, doing laundry or making the bed. Your toddler will do them because you model how to do them to him. Help your child learn how to help you around the house.
I’ve set up this handy Montessori chores handout for you to do at home, check it out!
Essential tip: Change your materials one at a time. Why? Otherwise, your child could feel overwhelmed by all the changes at once.
Aim at talking to your child at its eye level as much as you can. Here, time and patience are paramount. You need to let your kid express its feelings. He might feel frustrated, sad or overwhelmed and try to label what you observe with a word or a phrase.
After that, you can offer a hug to comfort and let her know that you are there.
Also, while struggling with transitions you can offer two choices and create a fun song to take them from point A to point B.
Essential tip: Always acknowledge their effort after completing a task by saying “You did it” or “You should be so proud of yourself!”
Order and routines are critical for babies and toddlers, even if it doesn’t seem that way. Yes, it is hard to even for an adult to follow a strict routine at home constantly but do it as far as you can.
Routines help children feel secure and anticipate what’s coming; as I said before, it helps them learn. That sense of security helps your child feel calm and confident taking on new challenges on a daily basis.
Essential tip: organize your child's materials in a low shelf for easy access and leave practical life items such as brooms, dusters, aprons hanging at her level to be used independently.
It’s the essence of Montessori and all the other techniques point to this final goal. I went at length on this in my recent Instagram Live.
Observe, prepare a safe and open environment where your child can feel free to do chores independently and respectfully.
Help your child do it by myself. This means setting up:
You can also foster your child’s independence by allowing them to choose between two options rather than giving directions. He or she will always feel powerful if you give them the choice. For example: “Do you want to use the bathroom with 1) mommy or 2) daddy?” There will be a choice, yes, but the end game is using the bathroom. This is better than saying “It’s time to use the bathroom”.
Essential tip: When your child needs a snack, invite him to prepare it with you or leave a few items to have him make it. I also recommend getting a small table and chair for your child to sit and eat it independently.
Many people think that Montessori is this really hard thing to do and that you need to buy expensive toys and furniture and read many books.
As you’ve probably figured out by reading my blog, it’s none of that. It is a simple, yet comprehensive approach to help your child become an independent and confident person.
You can start as soon as today with these techniques I’ve just shared with you. No need to buy anything. All you need to get started is time, patience, and a few materials you can find easily at home. Safe journey!
Loving Mom and Montessori trained teacher. I bring a real Montessori education experience to your home.
Every child is unique! They have individual interests and needs. I give advice about how a Montessori education helps you awaken your kid's mind and develop it freely.