What is Montessori at home and why do it?
Updated: Feb 13
What is Montessori? Montessori is a teaching philosophy that was created by Italian physican Maria Montessori in the 1900s through scientific experimentation with her students, the method has since been used in many parts of the world.
It encourages independence and sees children as naturally eager to learn and capable of initiating learning in a prepared environment.
It discourages the use of rewards and/or punishments such as star charts or timeouts, instead it encourages intrinsic motivation to develop. In Montessori there is an emphasis on practical life work, such as cleaning, cooking and care of self. And recently more people have started to incorporate Montessori philosophy in their homes, as have I.
In Montessori we respect the child as what they are, a human being. We create an environment that is purposeful for us as well as them, and we take on a role of their guide, not their authority. This does not mean we are permissive and they can do what they want, which is a common misconception around Montessori. What it does mean is that we prepare the environment as much as we can to serve them purpose, allow for independence and to avoid having to say no all the time by creating yes spaces.
Each material has an end goal and builds onto the next to eventually achieve the end goal. For example Montessori sound games like I-Spy (different to your traditional I-Spy) is the start of them learning to read and write.
They do have this amazing freedom to develop in their own way at their own time and explore as they see fit. But this freedom lies within a framework of what is safe, developmentally appropriate and what limits you feel need to be in place in your home.
Montessori at home is about bringing in all those philosophies and principles into your home. Swapping toy bins for carefully selected activities on low open shelving, inviting the child to join in daily tasks like cleaning and cooking around the home etc. There are many ways to bring it into your home and a lot of it will start with you and your approach to parenting as it is right now.
A fundamental point to remember is a common saying you will hear in the Montessori community which is to "Follow the child"
What we mean by this is that you are following the child's interests, the child's developmental needs and what they are wanting to learn. Our job is to prepare the environment for them to learn developmentally appropriate skills, it is their choice what they want to learn and when.
So, why do Montessori at home? Well there’s many reasons. It encourages children to get involved in home maintenance and learn basic life skills as early as they want to. It provides hands on learning, at the child’s pace. It allows a child’s much needed independence to develop by providing child sized tools and activities, leading to less power struggles on a daily basis and being able to fulfil their own needs effectively.
They develop much deeper concentration levels as they are not interrupted when doing their “work” with praise or anything else. And by work we mean play! It is going to allow your child to thrive, learn and develop on their own timeline.
Here's an example of OUR home before I found Montessori. My son had a toy bin, the tv was always on in the background and I used time out to stop him hitting. That's what I was lead to believe was the "right" way to parent. Fast forward just a month or so to when I discovered Montessori that flipped, and so did all of our happiness.
The toy bin went, the tv is used purposefully and I have not put him in timeout since. Has his behaviour changed? Massively, for the better! If we didn't stumble upon this philosophy I dread to think the disconnection and mistrust we might have at this point.
Bringing Montessori into our home has enabled my son to be independent, develop in his own way at his own time, and enabled me to be much less emotionally driven by his actions. I've never told him to share. I've never made him tidy up after himself. I've never made him clean dishes and do the laundry or cook dinner. But he does all of those things because he WANTS to and because the Montessori approach has given ME the tools to allow him this.
I've met adults who don't have the skills he has, but most importantly he is HAPPY. Jax is completely his own person, I do not decide what he should be interested in or do at what time everyday. Of course there's boundaries to keep but I am letting him choose who he is as a person and discover it for himself. I am merely here to support him, not control him.
If you want to start using Montessori in your home, you check out my other blog post here about getting started. I also would recommend the book The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies and How to raise an amazing child the montessori way by Tim Seldin. Both have a really well organised layout with simple explanations and guides.
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I believe Montessori is for EVERYBODY! and i want to help everybody make their lives and home a little more Montessori.
Montessoraus mama. x