Monday, 2 October 2017

How to "Montessori-fy" Your Home

So you've heard about Montessori, and you're really excited to start implementing some Montessori principles in your home.

But it seems like all you search for about Montessori turns up these perfectly organized and spacious Montessori setups with materials you definitely do not have yet.

Does Montessori really have to be that complicated?

Do you have to go out and spend an arm-and-leg on new furniture and materials?

Maybe eventually.

But there are definitely ways you can set up your house right now, with what you already have. Or by purchasing very little.

Honestly, do not be afraid to just start. There are a few simple ways you can Montessorify your home today:

Start small, with just a shelf, just a room.

Get down on your child's level in this space, and try to see it as they do. Are things presented in a way that is inviting, orderly, and adapted to their needs?

If you have your toys all thrown together in large bins or a toy box, limit what is available to your child and place just a few items out on a shelf, ledge, or even along the edge of the room if you do not have a shelf.

Group like objects, like wooden train tracks or small toy cars, together in a basket or bin. Trays are useful for housing different kinds of activities and works, as having everything grouped in an orderly way can help a toddler not to feel overwhelmed.

Watch how your child interacts with their environment, the materials and items they are drawn to and do not be afraid to rotate, rotate, rotate if they do not seem to be engaging.

{Our play room. Some elements I have found to be really key are the low table for the boys to bring their work to, and the separate shelves, one for more "play related" activities, like train tracks and toy cars, and one for more "work related" activities, like puzzles and craft trays.}

Start with practical activities. These don't have to be perfectly prepared on a tray as you might have seen on Pinterest. Just let them help you with real, practical tasks around the house.

  • Ask your child if they would like to help you mix up a batch of cookies, let them be hands-on in the process and do not make a big deal about the mess.
  • Offer them a rag to wipe up a spill, and model how. 
  • Arrange your child's clothing so they can have independence in this area. 
  • Allow your child to use the vacuum, stand up at the sink and wash a few dishes, or carry a dish to the table. 

Maybe it goes without saying, but do not start with things that really stress you out (like allowing your child to use a knife or have free range of snacks, small and relaxed is always better.)

Focus on giving your child motives for concentration and on following your child's interests.

Do not pay attention to what the children on Montessori Instagram accounts seem capable of doing, and just let your child show you what they are needing from their environment.

Focus on your own growth. This has been a huge focus for me in my journey as a Montessori parent. Becoming more supportive, peaceful, and attentive to my children, parenting more respectfully, and learning to give my children freedom to develop as they are meant to, are all important steps to becoming a Montessori family. And they will cost you nothing.

Give your children freedom to explore their interests, and to move around in your home. Allow them to handle things.

I do not feel it is necessary to run out and buy a bunch of things right off the get go. Get a feel for how Montessori fits into your home, and use as much of what you already have as you can.

When you are ready to start changing over to more Montessori-friendly materials, remember that natural materials like wood, glass, and material, are always preferred over plastic.

Lastly, be gracious with yourself. I think everyone feels overwhelmed when they first become interested in Montessori, and that is totally okay. There is a lot to learn, and a lot of it is pretty counter-cultural, but little-by-little it all starts making sense.

{The materials you provide for concentration (a huge part of what Montessori encourages) can be as simple as this Hi-Q game I found at a thrift store for $1.00} 

Thank you for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. I would also love to hear any suggestions for posts you would like me to write about. And if you are interested in following along in our daily adventures, follow us on Instagram where I post daily.

God bless,
Olivia Fischer

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