Montessori materials and wooden toys can be quite expensive. Therefore, shopping in charity shops and…
Montessori is not only for the rich!
If I had a penny for every time I was told that, I would be rich!
In the past, Montessori was limited to a style of education, to private school and expensive trainings. In recent years, however, Montessori has become extremely popular among parents.
In the Facebook group I created (Montessori for Families), this is a common question: “why is Montessori so expensive?”. Parents complain about toys, materials, and specific furniture they cannot afford.
Some parents feel they cannot offer a Montessori education to their children because they cannot afford those things.
But those things are not the only way to offer a Montessori education to your children.
I welcome the fact that Montessori is popular! If by embracing Montessori, you give more independence to your child, you review your expectations of what your child is capable of, you give them more hands-on opportunities and more freedom, then all the Montessori sharing in any way, shapes, or forms have not been in vain!
But on the downside, Montessori popularity has created a huge market: branded toys, 1000 printables, e-courses for parents, parenting books based on Montessori, branded furniture, and subscription boxes. And let me tell you, yes, I have myself created a subscription box of Montessori-friendly activities. All the branded stuff is a bonus! Use them if you can afford them, but you don’t need them to embrace Montessori at home.
Montessori is a lifestyle, a way to raise children based on observation and an understanding of their natural development.
You can have all the Montessori branded material in the world and not embrace the Montessori principles. You can have zero of those things and encompass all the Montessori principles. Out of the two options, I would choose the second one.
If you can afford the ever-growing plethora of Montessori-inspired toys, furniture, and educational materials, by all means, go for it! I buy toys! My family offers toys to our children. I love 3 parts cards and we bought few furniture. And yes, I have created a Montessori-inspired subscription box.
Let me give you an analogy: to go somewhere, you may need a car. Maybe you have always dreamed of having a luxury car. Let’s say a “BMW”. You can afford a luxury car, you know it will give you extra comfort, you can pay for it, it’s a safe car and there is an electric option. Great buy, your “BMW”!
Now, let’s say that you cannot afford one of those expensive cars. You have to buy a second-hand car. You are still able to go where you need to with your inexpensive, “ordinary” car. The luxury car is great if you can afford it, but you still have legs, the bus, a bike, a second hand, or the cheapest car. You can still go somewhere!
It’s the same with Montessori. You can help your child become independent. You can understand your child’s development and give them second-hand toys or activities made of cardboard, recycled materials, or a cheap option from Poundland.
Children need the freedom to explore, they need you to trust them. They need you to make space for their needs and experiments.
Now, if as you read this article, you are thinking “but those toys are so beautiful, it’s unfair, I would love to have them but I cannot afford them”, then check within yourself. Why do you want them? Do you think it would fix an issue? Your toddler will not necessarily become interested in baking because he has a “learning tower”. Do you hope your child will play independently if you can afford those beautiful wooden toys? Do you have a fear of missing out? Do you feel that you are not a member of the Montessori community if you don’t have an Instagrammable life?
I am a Montessori teacher, and I had those feelings! There was barely any social media pressure when my daughter was little. 5 years later when I had my son, Montessori blogs were booming. Articles started to be shared on FB groups. I began to feel self-conscious as I was running a toddler group based on Montessori. I felt I had to show my Montessori life. Our flat was small, cramped. Our furniture second-hand, my toys were DIY and second-hand. I only owned a few Montessori materials. I was wondering if I was able to “show Montessori to parents”. I overcame this by focusing on my children: were they happy? Yes. Were they learning? Yes. I also came back to the Montessori principles. I focus on their independence. I focus on offering real-life experiences, reality-based toys (the ones I had: second-hand, DIY, gifts from family). I made do with the furniture we had. I used a chair, not a learning tower. I had a mattress on the floor, not a fancy floor bed.
Maria Montessori said
“We are completely on the wrong track when we believe that expensive toys should keep a child happy or that a child who has a nanny who does everything for him is very fortunate. In reality it is the child of the busy mother, who is left to try and do things for himself, left to improvise toys from simple things and use his own ingenuity, who is fortunate.“He is free to work in his own way and so he turns to play into profitable work suited to his needs, whereas the rich child is often left to play in the way grown-ups imagine he would enjoy most. That is why children with cupboards full of toys are often bored and naughty, while the child who is left alone takes pleasure in very simple things and is happily absorbed for hours at a time in work of his own choosing”.
So please focus on what you can afford. What you can offer will be enough for your children!
To read further, check the following posts
- this blog post about Montessori and Social Media
- Why I say no to the Montessori shelfie
- Montessori toys in Charity shops
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