Montessori basics

Montessori at home - 9 key elements to get you started

You've probably heard about Montessori education, you’ve even looked online and you like what you’ve seen.

You’ve been thinking about it for a while and perhaps now you’re ready to incorporate some elements of the Montessori approach into your family life, but you’re not quite sure where to start?

What is Montessori?

The Montessori Method is an approach to learning developed by Dr Maria Montessori.
Montessori emphasises respect for the child, active learning, independence, cooperation, and learning in harmony with each child’s unique pace of development.

What are the benefits of it?

Research indicates that children of all academic abilities show positive skills and behaviours when taught using the Montessori approach, including: problem solving skills, independence, creativity, initiative, social cognition (emotional intelligence).

How can a Montessori approach be introduced at home?

Although a Montessori home environment is naturally different to a Montessori Education Centre, you can incorporate many important elements into daily life and create simple activities to introduce to your child based on Montessori ideas.

Where to start? What is most important?

Montessori is much more than the beautiful and specially crafted materials you will see in a Montessori classroom.

Montessori is, most importantly, a respectful holistic approach to meeting the developmental needs of each child.

What makes a Montessori environment?

First and foremost is a willingness to follow the child, to observe, understand and respect the child's internal developmental drives and cater for them through self-directed, hands-on learning activities.

Here is a list of key elements and a short explanation of what the terms mean:

Prepared environment: an area in your home where your child can focus on activities. This could be as simple as a table and chairs with a nearby shelf.

Be aware of sensitive periods these are when your child can more easily learn certain things. Create simple, appropriate activities.   For children aged 2.5 to 6 years old, examples include:

Practical life activities ( pouring, washing, brushing hair, sweeping etc) Sensorial ( touch, taste, colour etc) and Language.

Children are most content and most confident when their developmental needs are met

"Teach by teaching not by correcting". Instead of correcting your child when they make a mistake introduce each new activity or skill by clearly demonstrating it to the child thus helping the to be more successful.  It’s also really important also to be sure the child id developmentally capable of performing the task.

The cycle of activity -  choose, use and replace.  This applies equally to simple things like choosing a book, reading it then replacing it on the shelf, and to more complex activities which may require brushes to be washed, cloths hung up or paper stocks replenished before being placed back on the shelf.

Order - toys and activities are stored and displayed simply and beautifully so a child can choose easily and freely once an activity has been presented.

Self teaching - select toys and activities which the child can use without adult assistance. Children can learn through their own experience and at their own pace. 

Choice -  activities a child can choose freely and repeat at will.

Avoid Excessive Praise  - Encourage your child to work to satisfy their internal drives and to enjoy the great satisfaction that comes from that. Constant praise trains the child to work instead for external rewards bestowed by others.

Instead of praise like "that's fantastic/amazing/awesome" remark instead on the process using descriptive praise "I can see you put a lot of work into making that", "Thank you for thinking of me" or queries about the process "Did you enjoy making that?" "How did you make that, what did you use to make that?" “How did you feel making that?”

Don't interrupt - Respect your child's work, stand back and foster the development of concentration - even in babies.

If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of doing all of this, start with one or two things and build up from there.

Also, you don’t need to do it alone, I can support you, step by step through the whole process.

I'd love to help you and your family, so please contact me and we can talk through how I can be of assistance.

(Little) Kids in the Kitchen

 Kids love working in the kitchen and for that to be successful it's important to prepare ahead. 

Here are four basic steps to lay the foundation for success.

  1. A learning tower in the kitchen to provide safe access to kitchen benches for easy involvement in the preparation of food.
  2. A step to allow access to the hand-basin. A hand-towel at the right height.
  3. Child safe kitchen utensils (lots available on the net) and a child sized chopping board, plus a clear designated place to work.
  4. A child sized table and chair or a Tripp Trapp chair (google it, they're fantastic) so the child can comfortably use the dining table.

Now you are ready to get started, be sure you choose tasks which are suitable for the developmental level of your child.

Enjoy your time together passing on your skills.