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Watch this video: 6 tips to start Montessori at home:
Tip 1: Observe your child 0:54
Tip 2: Organise your house 1:54
Tip 3: Learn about the child's development stages 2:38
Tip 4: Use what you already have 3:18
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Tip 5: Invest in what you really need 3:55
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably interested in the Montessori education.
You have started doing some research about Montessori. You have found pictures of beautifully organized houses, toys on trays, specific counting or language activities, children focusing on day to day activities…
You probably feel a bit overwhelmed at this stage. Where do you start when you have just discovered the Montessori education?
Here are my 6 tips to start Montessori at home as a parent:
I know, you can find everything on the Internet, but a book will give you the basics without overwhelming you. Here are my recommendations:
“How to raise an amazing child” by Tim Seldin.
If you are really passionate and want to go deeper, you can read Maria Montessori’s own books. “The Absorbent mind”, “The secret of childhood” and “what you should know about your child” are the best books to get started as a parent.
Before you make any change to your house, or start to de-clutter your children’s toys, observe your child.
The Montessori education is a pedagogy based on the observation of the child. Maria Montessori was a scientist. She designed her method and the material she is so well known for by observing children.
As your child’s first teacher, you must observe your child with scientific eyes.
Sit next to your child, but not too close, and observe. I encourage you to take notes. Pay attention to the following: what does he like to play with? What does he choose among his toys? What motor skills is he working on? What hand does he use? Is he comfortable in a group or in a new place? Does he like small objects? Does he like to categorise objects? How is his language? Does he try to participate in your daily life?
Also, observe how the environment – your house and your attitude – interfere with his independence. Does he have an easy access to what he needs so he can be as independent as possible? Obviously, a baby will not have the same needs and possibilities than a 4 years old.
What to expect when is an amazing early year resource for parents to understand the different stages of development.
Prepare a house that is safe and allows your child to explore his environment.
Buy him a stool that will help him reach the sink.
Make some drawers or cupboards accessible to your child, with his belongings in each room.
Make sure your child’s clothes enable freedom of movement. They should allow your child to dress up and undress by himself.
Encourage your child to feed himself with a snack table and low chair as soon as he can sit unaided. Babies, as young as 6 months old can drink from an open cup. Allow your child time to practise those important life skills. Trust your child: with the right tools, he will be able to do so much, such as cutting his fruit, pouring his own drink, setting up the table…
When they discover Montessori, most parents are attracted by the beautiful material. However, this material was designed for the classroom and for the children aged 3 to 6 years old. If you are not planning to home-school (and even so, I don’t believe you need everything right now), you probably don’t need the whole set of Montessori material.
Most of the toys you have in your home can be presented in a way that is more attractive and purposeful for your child. Instead of having a box of puzzles with 5 different ones inside, give your child only one in a basket with the picture next to it.
Likewise, if you have some plastic sorting boxes, don’t run to the shop to have the same material made of wood for the sake of it.
Practical life activities can be done with what you have in your kitchen or bathroom. Treasure baskets can be filled with what you will find around the house. Art material can be presented in various recycled containers.
Some toys can be simplified so they don’t overwhelm your child. You can reduce the quantity of toys you currently have by storing away half of them. You can make some toys more attractive by disposing them on open shelves – or whatever furniture you have available.
What most families don’t have at first and what most families need will vary from one to another.
Here are my basic recommendations:
-A Child knife or crinkle cutter
– A small glass and pitcher
– A stool to go around the house
– a mirror at your child’s height, in the bathroom and his bedroom.
– a peg at his height in the cloakroom
– Real pictures of whatever your child has an interest in (animals, trains, dinosaurs) to match with objects or to talk about
– Toy animals. I like the plastic ones that are realistic, but many parents like the wooden options too. You will do so many language activities with them!
– Open ended toys such as blocks. Blocks can be used in many activities, such as sorting shapes, sorting by colours, counting, matching the blocks to forms on paper…
– Reality based books if you don’t have any in your collection
This article is just an introduction to the Montessori basics for parents.
If you are ready to go further, you can watch the first lesson of my Montessori Parenting Course for free
Discover 10 Montessori Principles for parents -
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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.
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