When I started reading about Montessori and implementing some of the basic principles I was excited but also a little overwhelmed. There was just so much information out there. I wasn’t sure where to begin. As I read more and understood more, I began to realise that fundamentally Montessori was about my mindset, how I viewed my children. Montessori is a wonderfully inspiring child-raising and educational philosophy. It covers everything from early infancy right through to adulthood. Some activities and methods are quintessentially Montessori but Montessori is so much more than activities on a tray. It is an entire holistic approach to living. One of the things I like most about Montessori is it is so adaptable to the individual needs of the child and the family. You can take all of it or just some of it.
So if you are just starting out, here’s a few questions you could ask yourself:
- Do I view my children as complete and capable?
- Do I respect them as self-motivated learners?
- Do I see them as individual in their development and their interests?
- Do I trust that, given time and freedom, they will each go through their own sensitive periods for learning at their own pace? That, my responsibility is to observe and offer experiences to foster this growing interest?
- Amongst our family members, do we model appropriate behaviour, courtesy, compassion, respect?
- In our home, do I recognise their innate need to learn and to grow?
- Does our house support their developing need for independence?
- Does it allow them as much freedom to move around as possible?
- Do they have access to everything they will need in order to complete tasks themselves?
- Are the toys and materials readily accessible to the children so they have the freedom to choose what interests them?
- Do they then have the opportunity to play without interruption?
- Do the toys and materials appeal to their current interests? Challenge them?
- Is their environment ordered and aesthetically pleasing, catering to their sensitive sensory development?
- Are their days ordered and predictable? Do they have a rhythm to their days?
- Am I teaching them to respect their belongings?
- Do they regularly spend time outside? Am I encouraging a connection with nature? Do they have the freedom to explore?
- Do I give them regular opportunities to participate in real tasks; gardening, cooking, cleaning, taking care of pets?
My biggest tip is to try to involve your children in small ways everyday. In this way you can help them move towards greater independence; taking on bigger tasks and more responsibility.
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