Written by guest blogger, Shannon Tegue
Does this sound familiar? You’ve got a to-do list a mile long, but your toddler is stuck to your leg like glue. Or you’ve had to tell your 4 year old to “STOP JUMPING ON THE COUCH” for the 50th time.
Or maybe, like me your child has a room full of toys, but would rather spend 30 minutes pulling every tissue out of the box. Sigh.
These hair pulling scenarios are actually learning opportunities in the making, & Montessori can help. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a fancy preschool, buy every wooden toy ever made, or homeschool your child until college to reap the benefits of this time tested education method.
What makes Montessori different?
Montessori is an approach to education that focuses on independence, practical life skills, & self-directed learning. Think about a typical classroom where a teacher decides on the lesson plan & all the children have to learn the same thing at the same time in the same way.
Children in Montessori classrooms have freedom of choice for their learning focus, with a trained “guide”/teacher to help only if necessary.
A familiar term in Montessori circles, “prepared environment” simply means a space designed to facilitate independent learning. When you think a few steps ahead, you’ll set your child up for success. To create a prepared environment in your home simply:
- Have child sized tools & furniture.
- Have items that are needed easily accessed, not locked away in a cabinet or closet that a child can’t easily get into.
- Include all the items needed to complete a task in one place. As adults, we’re used to knowing the steps & supplies needed to complete a task, but for children having everything in one place makes it much easier to do.
- Move plates & utensils to an area where they can reach them as needed. This along with easy access to snack foods that they can prepare safely will free you from constantly feeling like you’re running a 24 hour diner.
Create a “yes” space
Having your home set up in the Montessori way will lend itself to creating a “yes space”. This means that you will have a large area, or whole home that leaves your child able to explore without being continuously told “NO!”.
I’m currently working on rearranging some stuff in our home to let my 15 month old have access to our kitchen & dining room without dismantling our entire art area.
The space was perfect for my oldest to have easy access to creative materials (a prepared environment), but now has to be re-worked to support my youngest’s desire to explore her surroundings.
If you’ve got a constant shadow, find ways to include your child in your daily routine. This is referred to as practical life activities in Montessori & can be a GAME CHANGER.
Recently our floor dusting mop was sitting out in our kitchen and my 15 month old grabbed for it and wanted to walk around with it. I could’ve easily snatched away from her and put it away in a closet. Instead I found a way to shorten the handle, slapped on a dusting cloth and let her slip slide around the house.
Shortly afterwards my oldest wanted to join in on the fun. They got to build their confidence & feel like a contributing member of our household (and I got clean floors!).
There are so many things we do for our children that we miss out on the opportunity to help them, help themselves. Many times tantrums can be a result of their desire to do things on their own (often at an incredibly inconvenient time right?).
Finding moments throughout the day where you can give them the chance to work on the skills required to dress themselves, prepare food, or care for the home can drastically reduce tantrums and power struggles.
See what develops
You might be frustrated that your child is constantly jumping on the couch, climbing on furniture, or taking off running. This is actually a sign that they’re in a developmental window of movement & need opportunities to get those little bodies moving.
There are six main “windows” (formally referred to as Sensitive Periods) that children experience from birth to age 6.
Knowing your child’s developmental window is clutch for figuring out how to harness their learning capabilities. No more forcing them to try & learn a skill or concept when they’re not ready. No more complicated to set up activities that get ignored.
Find out more about developmental windows, plus get a free 14 Days to a More Montessori Home plan so you can start reaping the many benefits of the Montessori method with your children.