If you’ve spent any time exploring preschool options in the area, you’ve probably come across a few high quality Montessori options. If you aren’t familiar with this method of teaching, you may have been surprised by what you saw during your tour.
What is Montessori?
The basic difference between public school and the Montessori style of teaching is that the latter is truly a child-centered learning environment. Unlike a traditional classroom setting where the teacher does most of the talking, Montessori encourages hands-on learning that focuses on a holistic approach to understanding the world around each student.
Montessori is an education philosophy and practice that fosters rigorous, self-motivated growth for children…with a goal of nurturing each child’s natural desire for knowledge, understanding, and respect. – American Montessori Society
This sounds amazing, right?! But what if you aren’t sure if this style of learning is the best for your child?
Bringing Montessori Into Your Home
If you’ve been curious about Montessori, but don’t know where to start, look no more! A local Montessori-Mama is here to help provide some insight into how she transformed her house into a Montessori discovery zone.
Emily, what got you interested in bringing Montessori philosophies into your home?
Step into a Montessori classroom and you will experience an overwhelming sense of brilliance, order, peace, and warmth that permeates the space like a thick morning fog. There is intention behind each carefully crafted item in the classroom, making it a place children immediately feel welcome. There are no formal lesson plans or lectures, instead the learning is purely self directed. Montessori pedagogy believes that child-led learning sets the tone for a lifelong thirst for knowledge and drive towards excellence. It was this beautiful marriage of order, focused attention, and child-led learning that inspired me to create a Montessori home for my children to grow and thrive.
Describe your dream Montessori play space.
When thinking about my dream Montessori play space, the vision is simple: incorporate beauty and ensure functionality. With these in mind, the space would likely look a little something like this…
- A large open room with a flood of natural light
- Spacious open shelving units to house educational materials and open-ended toys
- A child-sized table for children to sit and work when they feel led to do so (use promo code: madetomontessori for 10% off!)
- A wooden front-facing bookshelf with a comfortable child-sized chair
- Low hanging art for children to view and enjoy at eye level
- Plants!!! Lots and lots of potted plants and greenery
What does a Montessori morning look like for your children?
Mornings in our home are always a bit hectic with three little ones. My husband and I have worked hard to instill a deep sense of independence in our children. As a result, mornings have begun to run somewhat smoother these days.
My older children (ages 5 and 3) are now fully capable of picking out their own clothing, dressing themselves, packing their backpacks, setting the table, helping prepare breakfast, and cleaning the dishes. But I’ll be honest, my children aren’t perfect, and although they are capable of completing these tasks, they often need prompting as most kids do.
Thanks to our Montessori-inspired toddler kitchen unit, all of our children’s dishes, glasses, silverware, and cooking supplies are accessible to them whenever the need arises. Their kitchen is also fully stocked with snacks and fresh water so they are able to access food and water whenever they need it.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your children since creating your Montessori space?
When I sit and reflect on how Montessori practices have changed our family, two specifics come to mind: independence and focused play.
Thanks to Montessori, my children are now fiercely independent with confidence that stems from a deeply rooted sense of autonomy. They have fallen into a beautiful daily rhythm of work and play, enjoying both the ease of childhood and the work of contributing to our household.
Montessori tends to be synonymous with minimalism. A Montessori playroom is simple and free of chaos. There are no toy bins or piles of clutter. Instead, our shelves hold about 8-10 toys at a time, preventing overstimulation and allowing for more focused play. Too many options for a child is overwhelming and often leads to indecisiveness. In order to keep their playroom an active and interesting space, I regularly rotate toys and educational materials. I also try to ensure the majority of their toys are open-ended, allowing them to creatively play for longer periods of time.
What tips do you have for a mom who’s thinking about adding a little Montessori touch to their home?
In Montessori lingo you’ll hear the phrase “practical life” mentioned frequently. Practical life refers to the work of self care and care of the environment. Engaging children in these activities can help establish a deep sense of independence and autonomy.
Montessori at home doesn’t require you purchase a plethora of fancy wooden toys or classroom materials. It can be as easy as engaging your child in self care tasks such as teeth and hair brushing, self dressing, and hand washing. You can also begin to incorporate them into the work of household chores such as dusting, sweeping, window washing, laundry sorting, meal prep, and washing dishes.
Toddlers love to feel useful by participating in what we would consider to be the mundane tasks of daily life. To ensure your child’s success, you can make small changes to your home that will aid in their ability to accomplish these goals independently. Step stools, counter-height step stools (use promo code: madetomontessori for 10% off!), faucet extenders, low hanging hooks, and low shelving units to house the supplies they will need, are just a few ways we can make our homes more comfortable and accessible for our tiny toddlers.
Making Montessori Easy
Whether you’re ready to give your home a complete makeover into a Montessori dream space, or you’d rather slowly introduce a few engaging learning tools, here are some ideas to build your collection.
It’s important to note, you don’t need to have a lot of money or even time to make these changes. Emily, our Montessori Mama, is a busy wife and mother to three kids, ages 1, 3, and 5. She also works as a full time postpartum RN. In her “free time” she became a certified lactation consultant and hopes to become AMI certified in the future. A lot of Emily’s Montessori resources were found during her treasure hunts at local thrift stores.
If you’re looking for some inspiration to create your own Montessori environment, you can follow Emily at @madetomontessori.