How to present a Montessori activity?

Are you wondering how to present specific Montessori activities to your child? Is there a perfect way to introduce a new material?

A big part of my training was about "how to present each activity and material". We had practice exams and we had to demonstrate that we knew what each material was, what was the purpose, how to present it, how to extend further and how to vary the activity if needed. 

We spend months refining those skills and later on, as a guide in the classroom, we have many opportunities to practice the same presentation. For example, I would present the "pink tower" to 20 newcomers over a few weeks. 

At home, it's not exactly the same. We are the parent and our children might not listen to us in the way they listen to their teacher. We might present the material only once or twice, depending on how many children we have.

Our children might be distracted by many other things in the house. 

We might find ourselves presenting a new toy that has been just offered to our child or find the opportunity to demonstrate a skill in the middle of a cooking session. 

I think, as parent, we might be too focus on the perfect way to do Montessori. Home is not a classroom. 

As Montessori said:

Montessori presentation quote

Having said that, there are some tips that you can remember when you want to show a new activity to your child.

How to show an activity to your child under 3:

  • For babies and toddlers, most activities are self-explanatory. It's more about exploration than following specific steps. Quite often, we don't need to present. 
  • if you have to present an activity, focus on role-modelling it and try not to speak. Young children are so into a sensitive period for language that if you speak, they will focus on your words and not on the activity.
  • it's common for a young toddler to leave in the middle of the presentation but it doesn't mean he hasn't absorb what to do. He might even keep watching from afar. So keep doing the presentation and invite your child to try even if he has left.
  • Many young toddlers will explore in their own way and might not do what you have just show them. This is how they learn by trial and error. As long as it's safe, let them explore. 

How to show an activity to a child over 3:

  • For this age group, you generally start to introduce specific Montessori materials.
  • It's a good idea to make yourself familiar with the purpose of each material and how to present them as in the classroom. Be ready to be flexible and don't fret if you don't remember all the steps. Montessori teachers refer to their training in the classroom so you can as well!
  • I like this book "Basic Montessori" to have an overview of the Montessori materials. The website "InfoMontessori" is also a great resource. 
  • We generally present from left to right as a pre-skill for writing. 
  • Have everything you need ready on a tray or basket
  • Break down an activity into small steps. It's a good idea to practice by yourself and you might realise that you need an extra material or that you have to slow down
  • Some lessons are very specific such as the 3 periods lesson. Check how to in this blog post.

What if:

  • You cannot prepare: many activities are introduced spontaneously in the house. As you cook, your child will ask to use the garlic press. Or you unpack a new material and your child wants to use it straightaway. You are just back through the door, you need to change the baby's nappy but your toddler has taken a new activity from the shelf... You can be spontaneous. It's best to let your child explore then reintroduce more formally than preventing him to do it because it's not the right time. We don't want our child desire to learn to be curb. 
  • Your child is not interested: he might not be ready for that activity or the material might be too easy and doesn't sustain his attention. The environment is too distracting: he asks for the television, prefers to play with his train track, ...

So make sure you also take care of the environment in general. Declutter the toys. Have a dedicated area or time for "learning" activities. More tips about how to prepare the environment here.

Take the time to observe your child to make sure you introduce a new material or activity that she needs. More tips about how to observe here. 

And if it doesn't work, don't take it personally. Leave the activity on the shelf and you may observe in a few days that your child chooses it.

Last tip:

Remember the acronym S.H.O.W:

Show Montessori presentation

It means slow hands, omit words. Basically role-model and speak as little as possible!

I hope those tips will help you!

Let me know in the comment.

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About the Author Carine Robin

Carine Robin has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, specialising in child psychology. She worked for various social services in her home country of Belgium, before moving to Ireland in 2006. It was there that she started working in a nursery and discovered Montessori education. After having her first child, her passion for the philosophy grew and she qualified as a Montessori teacher and managed a preschool. Carine has been running a Montessori based parents and toddler group and coaching families for 9 years. She now also runs an online group for over 14000 parents, sharing her knowledge and passion with people from around the world. In 2018, Carine realised families needed more support and launched her popular online parenting courses and monthly subscription boxes, full of personally designed Montessori materials.

  • We’ll keep this in mind and implement this. Thanks for the tips.

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