What is Montessori?
Dr. Maria Montessori’s educational philosophy is multi-faceted. It is famous for the concept of following the child. Montessori believed that children are eager and capable of learning new concepts, of doing for themselves, and of articulating their needs.
What makes Montessori unique?
Montessori teaching methods are based on the science behind how children develop.
The teaching philosophy focuses on what we know about child development for example, awareness of the sensitive period for language development. It is during this period that Montessori teachers would be focused on literacy development.
The Montessori Approach at Home
The Montessori approach to learning is fairly easily implemented at home. The biggest take away is to follow the child.
This boils down to observing the child, letting the child lead and shifting our mindset to understand that a child is eager and capable of learning new concepts, of doing for himself, and of articulating his needs.
5 Ways to “Do Montessori” at Home
Work with your child to establish a routine, but not necessarily a ‘schedule.’
This means after breakfast and getting ready for the day, your child may, for example, select an activity to practice reading or handwriting.
After some time practicing, you may have your child help you select his or her lunch and help you prepare it.
Then might be play time, quiet time, time spent watering the garden, etc.
A routine can generally be seen as ‘first comes this, then comes that’ instead of ‘it’s 10:00, time for Math.’
This allows for some activities to take longer, or shorter, based on how interested your child may be that day or how much longer he may want to complete something. It also allows you to observe if an activity is just not fun or engaging, to modify it or cut it short.
This is similar to a block schedule. You can download a free printable block schedule template here.
Work with your child to do as much as he or she can do on their own.
This may mean that they set out the lunch ingredients–bread, jam, peanut butter, fruit, then you prepare it.
Or that you introduce new words in Spanish, but they find pictures to match and cut them out.
It could also be that they want to use playdoh, so you ask that they clear the breakfast dishes first.
Establish a 3:1 practice to introduction ratio.
This means (at least at our home!) that our children practice what they’ve learned about 75% of their ‘academic’ time and are introduced to new material about 25% of the time.
I may be a Montessori mom, but that doesn’t mean that even in a traditional classroom do students have all new lessons, all the time.
Most of their time is actually spent refining and perfecting what they’ve already been introduced to, so they can achieve mastery.
Have dedicated spaces to work and to play.
This helps you and your child maintain order.
If their ‘work space’ is the kitchen table, help them locate and maintain a basket of materials–scissors, pencils, crayons, and paper.
When inspiration hits, they know where to go to create, and you don’t have to help them gather anything. It also helps them internalize the process for order.
This also applies to traditional toys. Proving organization for toys in open end brackets and on accessible shelves allows them to have more independent control over their toys.
Also, when cleanup time comes, they will be less overwhelmed by the materials and where they should go.
Encourage your child to do one more.
This follows the Montessori principle of developing the child’s willpower and the teacher’s role in extending learning or practice.
They’ve lined up 0-10 correctly for the first time since beginning to practice it a week ago. Now can they put 1 bear under the 1? Two under the two?
Or, they colored a favorite character in their coloring book–now can they draw her on paper? Cut her out? Name the colors? Describe the picture to big brother?
Extending the learning and activity even just the slightest helps build confidence and stamina.
This article was written in collaboration with Rachel Kincaid, editor of the of The Montessori Post
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