The Montessori Approach is quickly becoming a popular form of parenting in the UK. Follow through the guide to find out where the Montessori approach came from and how you can fit it into your day to day life with your children.
Young children’s behavior can be challenging from the wonder weeks to the toddler tantrums all the way through to our children expressing their own opinions and lets face it they don’t always align with what we need or want them to do!
I personally don’t use the Montessori approach to the letter but a lot Montessori’s theory is woven into my parenting.
Below I will talk about the Montessori approach from;
. Who Maria Montessori is,
. How we can make Montessori at home work for you and your child,
. The five principles of the Montessori method,
. The pros and cons of this parenting style,
. And books you can pick up if you want to learn a little more
What is the Montessori approach?
Maria Montessori is the lady behind the Montessori approach, hence the name. She was an Italian Dr who devoted her time to researching and watching how children learn, play and act. She was so passionate about the subject that she used her findings to create a school, centered around the each individual child to best support their holistic development.
Maria’s basic idea was that children are more self-motivated, willing to learn and learn best when they control what they learn and when they learn it. By following the child’s lead the teachers (you as a parent are definitely a teacher) role is to guide the child where they need guidance but to otherwise take a step back and let the child learn at their own pace.
Is her research really relevant now though? Yes! There are loads of Montessori nurseries popping up all over the UK). Not only that, the Montessori approach is something that is definitely growing in homes all around the UK as parents begin to move away from plastic toys and towards wooden alternatives. While creating rich learning environments for their children at home because the early year really do have a huge impact on our children even into adulthood.
How does Montessori at home work and how to raise a Montessori child
Montessori is all about fostering independence and allowing children to lead their learning. so, Having resources at the child’s height is key. Purely because your child can get what they need without asking for help. Montessori loved to encourage practical life skills like tidying and cleaning. You can easily bring this into practice by using steps for high surfaces and lower hanging hooks and shelves.
keeping the environment open, tidy and simple is also part of the approach which is where toy rotations come in. If you haven’t heard of toy rotations before checkout my blog post here, they are a real life saver!
Montessori found that natural resources supported children’s curiosity the best. So that’s your wooden toys, shells, pine cones ect. As well as your outside play. The beauty is, as you step away from the plastic toys and toward the wooden toys they become more openended. Therefore they can be used for more than one purpose) and boost your child’s imagination and learning too.
Your Role As A Parent
As a parent take a step back and watch your child; what do they like playing with?, what particular topics are they interested in right now? Where is their development at? is their something in particular they seem to be working on? such as numbers, letters, fine motor skills or even self-care.
Once you have a good understanding of where your child is at, what topics they are interested in and what are they able to do vs what are they trying to do it is time to provide activities, and equipment that will support your child’s learning. It could be that they love watching things roll so you offer a marble run (or DIY your own). Or they are interested in spotting letters in books so you add letters into a sensory tray for them to search through.
When you are setting up the activities, and to be fair even when you set out the toys from a toy rotation. Keep in mind your child’s developmental stage. The aim is for your child to need every little support from you, but still be challenged by the activity. By intervening as little as possible children get the satisfaction that they learnt something new independently. Leading them to be active and self-motivated learners in the future.
How to Raise An Active Learning
Offer an optimal learning environment with child led activities
By using our observations and adapting the environment as well as providing supporting equipment to meet our children where they are at while allowing them to challenge themselves.
Take a slower pace of life. I know we are all busy and we have things to do but try and section out an hour or two of totally uninterrupted play time. If that’s not possible at first make it a top priority to not interrupt your child’s play when they are fully engaged in an activity.
Hands off approach
Trust in your child’s abilities. Let them learn through the process of trial and error, as long as it’s safe to do so of course. This one is actually really hard, when we see our children struggling we naturally want to step in and help.
By providing activities centered around your child’s interests they are going to be self-motivated to learn. Children are naturally curious and want to learn so, why not allow them to learn as much as they can about a topic until they move onto something new.
Like I’ve mentioned before Montessori saw the value in teaching children valuable life skills so give children a little responsibility. Task them with laying the table for dinner, washing up plates or hanging the laundry.
Can you be a Montessori parent for your baby?
Yes! Although some Montessori nurseries take children on from 3 years old. Montessori believed that children take in the most information about the world from conception to 6 years old.
What can you do for your baby?
Talk to your baby about what is going on around them for example; showing them flowers and talking about the details, talking about what sounds you can hear and where you are getting ready to go.
Follow your babies lead just like we do for older children. When they stick out their tongue copy them, when the make sounds mimic them it’s all part of early communication.
Give them time where they aren’t restricted to bouncers, cars seats and baby slings. Let them practice tummy time and kicking their legs. Offer lots of different sensory materials, mirrors that they can explore with their hands and their bare feet.
The five principles of the Montessori method
And how to work Montessori parenting into your daily lives.
Principle 1: Respect for the Child.
Give your child a choice where possible, as well as, the opportunity to do something independently and when they are playing don’t interrupt, respect that they are working hard just like if we are concentrating on a task. Don’t forget that children learn by how we respond to them and people around us, if we model respect our children will copy.
Principle 2: The Absorbent Mind.
Children are naturally driven to learn about the world around them, it’s how they work out how things work and how to fit into society. They are always learning. Children particularly learn through sensory play, the more senses we can get involved during play the more our children will make connections and learn about the world.
Principle 3: Sensitive Periods.
There will be points where your child is ready to learn a new skill, this is where I say “if it’s hard they aren’t ready”, Maria Montessori called this a sensitive period. Your child will remain in this sensitive period until they mastered whatever they were ready to master. You will know when your child reaches a sensitive period through your observations which is when you provide equipment and activities which will help them flourish.
Principle 4: The Prepared Environment.
The environment should be organized, easy to navigate and set up to support each child where they are at. When we get this right, children will be able to fully engage in their learning and push themselves to their very limit with little to no support.
Principle 5: Auto education.
Because the equipment is easy for children to access and it is fully focused on the child. Children will automatically educate themselves with the resources provided. We as parents are their to inspire, guide and encourage so our children can be confident in their abilities.
The benefits and criticisms of Montessori parenting – Montessori parenting pros and cons
. Encourages open-ended toys meaning they boost creativity and reduce clutter.
. The whole approach fosters independence in learning and practical abilities
. It boost self-discipline as children learn from their mistakes and improve through trial and error.
. Supports children to develop a love of learning.
. By reducing distractions it increases concentration periods and focus.
. The price tag on the furniture and toys can be high but they do normally last years as appose to months.
. Focusing on independence and self-directed learning can make it harder for children to work as a team or adapt to more rigid rules.
. It can be seen that play time is being reduced to help with practical tasks but actually how often does your child normally want to help you load the washing machine? Why not let them help?
. By following the child’s lead you may find that some subjects get pushed to the side because your child isn’t showing an interest in them.
What Montessori parenting books do you need?
If you want learn more about Maria Montessori or would like have a guide at your fingertips take a look at the following books.
*Full disclosure, these are affiliate links so if you buy the book using my link I will earn a small commission. If you don’t want to use my link that’s absolutely fine! If you type the book titles into amazon they will come right up.*
The Montessori Toddler has 5 star reviews on amazon and is loved for it’s useful techniques to apply the Montessori approach as well as methods to deal with typical toddler behavior. It’s easy layout mean you can dip in and out of the book whenever you need to.
The Montessori Family has 4.5 star reviews and again is loved for it’s step by step techniques on building a Montessori home and is perfect for Montessori parenting beginners because it offers simple and easy to implement activities to begin doing with your children.