We would like to share some simple, every day suggestions for bringing the Montessori philosophy and method into your home. Creating consistency between the home environment and the classroom allows a child to achieve the best possible outcomes in learning. Encouraging independence, self-confidence, orderliness, concentration, and respect will help our children to grow into well-rounded individuals.
Step One: Creating the Home Environment
- Provide your child with child-sized furniture. This applies most especially to the rooms which are for the child’s use such as the bedroom, play room and dining area. Common areas can be modified for ease of access with step stools.
- Keep in mind that a very young child (age 1-3) needs opportunities to explore the environment in an unrestricted fashion. It therefore becomes necessary to ensure that all items within reach should be safe to touch and handle.
- Arrange your child’s room in an orderly way. Everything should have its own place and you should encourage your child to return his/her belongings to its designated place.
- Arrange your child’s bathroom so he/she is able to reach the sink (stool). Your child should have an assigned space for his/her own washcloth, towel, hair brush, toothbrush, etc.
- We recommend you do not keep toys in a toy chest as it suggests dumping toys into it. Have a couple of low shelves in the corner of your den or family room. Leave a few selected toys, puzzles, books etc out at one given time and change them on a routine basis. If you see your child is becoming bored of the current selection, involve him/her in selecting new materials to put out.
- Have a small pitcher and cup for use of water or juice within your child’s reach.
Step Two: Daily Routines and Encouraging Independence
- The best way to demonstrate a task to your child is to perform the actions very slowly, step by step, using as few words as possible. Sit beside him/her and make sure you have their undivided attention.
- Awaken your child early enough for unhurried dressing, eating, etc to avoid any stress in performing independent tasks.
- Involve your child while making a decision (example: preparing lunch or laying out clothes for the day). Offer only two or three choices, depending on the age of the child. This will help develop thinking and decision making skills.
- Invite your child to help you do the everyday chores such as making the bed, dusting, loading the dishwasher, sorting the cutlery, sorting the laundry, taking care of the pet, watering the plants, polishing the shoes and silver, setting the table, and preparing (cutting and washing the salad, depending on age).
- Let your child be responsible for the care of his/her own room, in so far as he/she is able. As the adult, you provide the order by assigning each object a place and making sure your child is physically able to return the item to this place once taken out. It then becomes his/her responsibility to maintain that order.
Step Three: Adopting a Healthy Parenting Philosophy
- All adults that are involved in a child’s daily life should be in agreement as to how to approach discipline and be willing to implement the same parenting philosophy in order to avoid common parenting mishaps and provide consistency.
- Respect and listen to your child’s needs by being patient and observant. Remember that your child is directed by an inner guide, so be sensitive and aid him/her to realize his/her full potential.
- Find more and more ways to say, “Yes, let’s!” and less ways to say, “No, don’t.” A good example is, if a toddler child is climbing on the couch, instead of saying, “No, don’t do that.” Try “Let’s do our climbing outside in the yard.”
- Observe your child and watch for “sensitive periods” for learning when he/she is particularly interested in learning a particular concept such as color, shapes, textures, numbers, vocabulary, etc. and capture those moments to teach.
- To build up a positive relationship between you and your child, it is important that you give him/her your uninterrupted attention even if it is only for 15-20 minutes. This can be done by reading a story, playing games, hugging, talking, listening, singing or just being silly.
- Take trips to the grocery store, zoo, museums etc. Remember this should be a non-rushed trip so your child can observe and benefit from it. Go over your expectations and rules slowly (as simple and few as possible) before you start out, to ensure a shared enjoyable experience.
- Children learn by observing and imitating the adults in their environment so it is very crucial that we be a good role model.
- It is important to show your child an unconditional love and affection by approaching him/her in a respectful manner.
I promise these suggestions will make your and your child’s life easier, stress free, and more fruitful!
Mrs. Lalita Trehan
Education Director and School Founder – Sugar Creek Montessori School