Montessori at home, Montessori as a parent is not a follow step by step process or a do it all or nothing.
Often, parents tell me “I’m not fully Montessori”, or I didn’t do this so I cannot say I use Montessori.
I’m all for being flexible. I see the principles that Maria Montessori gave us as guidelines to raise children respectfully, as an invitation to observe and provide what our children need.
I discovered Montessori before my daughter was born by working in a Montessori nursery. I trained when my daughter was a young toddler.
I feel that I have embraced the principles from the start but I have never been strict or dogmatic.
Do you have a few plastic toys? That’s ok. Did you read some fantasy books? So what. Some days, you don’t invite your child to peel the potatoes. I get it, it’s so much quicker to cook for yourself. Maybe you have no Montessori schools where you live and you don’t see yourself home educating.
It is always possible to embrace the Montessori lifestyle!
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Here what I didn’t do with Montessori
1. I didn’t homeschool my children
Often, as Montessori is foremost a method of education, many parents will believe that we have to send our children to a Montessori school.
If that fails, we will then home educate them.
Well, I didn’t.
I never felt the need to home educate my children. It’s not that I am 100% happy with the school system, but I didn’t perceive home-schooling as being the solution for us. First, we needed to work. And as we are expat, we had no support whatsoever, and I didn’t feel able to be solely in charge of my children 100% of the time.
I will not pretend that I know what it is to homeschool while following the Montessori education. When home-schooling families ask me for support, I am always forthcoming with who I am. I had my children 100% with me until they were nearly 5. I know the curriculum, I met many home-schooling families, and we have exchanged and discussed what works or what doesn’t work with the Montessori education at home. But I have no personal experience after the age of 5 with how to homeschool.
2. I didn’t send my child to a Montessori school
My first child didn’t go to a Montessori school. There were no Montessori schools where we lived when she was starting school. Our family life was not only about the school and the place where we live, but the friends we had were also important, and we couldn’t move to a Montessori school at the time. Also, we couldn’t afford the fees of a private Montessori school.
When it was then time for my second child, we had moved to the countryside. And a Montessori school has opened a short 20 minutes drive from our new home. It was unexpected, and our budget was also different. We asked our daughter if she wanted to attend too. She chose not to as she wanted to stay with her friends, she was already 9 years old (I will write soon about how we Montessori without sending our child to a Montessori school).
3. I didn’t make my Montessori baby Mobiles
Well, I tried! I managed to make the Munari mobile then I gave up half-way of the second mobile. I didn’t buy them either as they are very expensive and I couldn’t justify the expense. I had the puzzle ball made for me and I made some grasping toys myself.
4. I didn’t buy the whole set of Montessori material
As I said in point 1, my children were mostly with me until they were 5. My son also attended the Montessori nursery I managed for 2 years. He has then access to the whole range of Montessori material. For my daughter, however, I bought many of the sensorial material, some of the language and maths material. The main thing I did was to limit their toys and to select activities and toys that respect the Montessori principles.
I believe that you can apply the Montessori principles without the material and that the material works better in the classroom.
5. I didn’t create a classroom
I have always understood Montessori as a way of life.
I have never isolated the materials or activities in a specific “home” classroom.
Obviously, I didn’t homeschool so it might be why.
However, my daughter was 85% of the time with me until she was 5. And her material and toys were everywhere in the house, not in a specific “home classroom”. She used the materials and activities anytime during the day. The work cycle was happening alongside our day to day activities. Practical life was purposeful: preparing a snack, wiping the table, emptying the dishwasher. She used to build the pink tower then she played with little people. She went in our courtyard to play then came back to count with the number rods.
6. I didn’t ban plastic
We have duplos and legos. We have some big plastic cars. We have plastic toys for the bath. We have a plastic doll’s house. We have plastic Schleich animals.
7. I didn’t have a perfectly prepared environment
While the play area and the children’s bedroom were 90% well prepared, my own adult’s space was often a mess.
I have written about my own “hoarding” and messy issue.
To be honest, I wish I had been able to tackle this earlier, but it didn’t impact on my children where they were little.
And it allowed me to be super flexible with their own mess, being ok with them exploring messy play or big messy painting activities.
8. I wasn’t constantly preparing Montessori activities
Montessori inspired activities on a tray are cute but a family is not a classroom.
Real-life happens. We have moved from one country to another. We had our second baby and we had a transition period when I had no energy to prepare new activities every day. At that time, my daughter had the same material on the shelves for months. I had subscribed to an art box and we were doing that together. This first subscription box gave me the idea for my own Montessori subscription box. Check here!
Thankfully, the material and toys she had were right for her and we were always out, visiting the local parks and playground and the museums in London. We learned a lot but not with trays of activities.
9 I didn’t use many printables
Montessori printables are everywhere.
You can read my blog article about where to find free printables and here how to make your own.
I have printed a few for some specific topics. I used to prepare topics for my daughter and for the schools I worked for. When I had my second child, I was too busy with two children and we mainly used books and hands-on material. Now if I had homeschooled my children past age 5, I might have used more printables.
Right now, I want to introduce them to the flags of the world and to the solar system so I might use more nomenclature cards.
Don’t stress if you cannot keep up and print everything that is available as the 3 parts cards are only one aspect of the Montessori method.
10. I didn’t read all the Montessori books
I read many of the books written by Maria Montessori and many by other Montessori teachers.
But when my children were little, a few only were very useful for me as a parent. Here a list of the books I recommend to parents.
As a teacher, it’s different and for the last 3 years, I’ve been through all the books written by Dr Montessori, including sometimes 2 editions of the same title as it’s fun to see how different the edition and translation can be.
What about you? If you consider yourself as a Montessori parent. is there something you didn’t do?
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