Monday, 4 December 2017

Some Observations of Our Twenty-Month-Old in Our Montessori Home

As I had only just discovered Montessori when Jerome was the age Benedict is now, and I was slowly implementing things then, we are definitely into brand new territory with a twenty-month-old in a Montessori home, and I thought I would share some of what I have noticed in the past few weeks.

The Floor Bed:

Benedict's room also functions as the guest room when we have guests over, and usually, we will just move him into our room in a playpen for the duration of the visit. This past week we had a friend over, and I decided to set his floor bed up in our room, which offered me a good opportunity to observe.

We transitioned Benedict to the floor bed once we moved back to our old house this summer, and it has been surprisingly smooth. Even when I put him to sleep in the master bedroom the other night, a different environment with much more space to explore, he did not move from his bed after I tucked him in. I have found that, even with the freedom to move around his room, Benedict will usually stay in his bed.

When Tharin and I came to bed a few hours later, we ended up waking him, and it was after we had turned out the light I heard him shuffling around the room. I decided to wait to see what he would do on his own, and after playing with some of the toys I have in Ignatius' movement area which is in our bedroom, I heard him dutifully climb back into his own bed. I was smiling to myself as I listened to his little exploration, certain he would put himself back to bed when he was ready. This trust in my toddler's ability is an aspect of Montessori I have really loved with Benedict.

As Benedict does not yet know how to open the door to his room, he is still confined to his room, so I am sure we will be in new territory once he has that skill.

Trusting my Toddler with Water Access:

About a month ago I moved the water dispenser to a lower shelf so it is accessible to Benedict, and I have been periodically giving him lessons on how to use it. This week he has shown more interest in it and, as a result, finally mastered it. He has always loved drinking water so I can tell you we have a very happy Benedict on our hands. There are always at least three cups of water on the weaning table in the kitchen, and a wet dish towel on the floor by the water dispenser.

Though there are definitely plenty of accidental spills, I have been really impressed with how respectful Benedict is of the water station. At first, it took him some practice to know to release the tap before his cup was overflowing, but now that he mastered that part of the process, I have not found he makes unnecessary messes with the water, which I think would be the primary fear when giving toddlers free access to a water source.

The only instance, I would say, was the other night when he was trying to pour water from one cup to another and just kept getting new water when he would spill. When I found him doing this, I saw him trying to meet a need, and set him up with a tray and better vessels for pouring, and this kept him happy for quite a while.

On one last note, I always have him help wipe up spills and do not get angry at him for them. He is definitely in a phase of loving to help wipe and clean up, so this also appeals to the developmental stage he is in.

Montessori Mealtimes:

Another change we implemented when moving back to our old house, was switching to glass dishes. I already forget how foreign it is to trust little children with glass, until we are having a meal in a different house, and even Jerome is given a plastic dish. Switching to glass has been a really smooth transition, and we have had hardly any instances of broken dishes, as even Benedict seems to understand the need for gentleness.

We are not fully Montessori when it comes to mealtimes, as we still have Benedict in a booster seat at the table, and the weaning table is only used for meals they are eating alone, as I prefer to have family meals together at the large table. However, I love witnessing the understanding Benedict already displays, even without prompting, that he is meant to place his cups of water on the table in the kitchen and bring his snack here when I give it to him to carry. Trust me when I say, it is the cutest thing to see a toddler walking carefully with a glass of water.

The Beginning Stages of Montessori Potty Learning:

We have had the learning potty in the bathroom for a few months, and I try to talk about it and have Benedict sit on it every once in a while, without putting pressure on him. This is to get him accustomed to the potty, trusting he will show a personal interest when he is ready. The other night, when he was still undressed after his bath, he was running around with Jerome, and suddenly he announced he needed to go. When I suggested he go on the potty, he did and had his first successful attempt. I would definitely not say we are anywhere near him grasping the concept, as he seemed completely surprised by what he had done, but I am happy with how relaxed it has been so far.

We used a Montessori approach to toilet training with Jerome as well, and I was so happy with the process, and am definitely interested to see how it goes a second time around.

Shared Space:

Another, slightly less positive, experience we had this week due to Montessori came in the form of our craft cupboard. I have always had the craft supplies fully accessible to both boys, and generally, it has been a source of discovery for Benedict without any real issues. It has not been uncommon to find him dumping just to have the opportunity to pick up, study, and handle different items, which I was happy to let him do. However, this week he has taken markers on two separate occasions and drawn on our couch and a table, so I have had to move a few things to higher shelves for the time being.

Other than this instance with the markers, I have not found he misuses materials, though he can reach many of Jerome's things. He definitely explores things which are not at his developmental level, but I think that is a unique and important part of a space shared between children of different ages.

In general, I find raising a toddler in a Montessori home very peaceful. He has access to many meaningful activities, plenty of freedom to explore, and goes about his days contentedly and purposefully. Even with the increased dumping we have been experiencing in the past few weeks, resulting in bigger messes than we are used to seeing in the playroom, I would honestly say that implementing Montessori more and more into our home and our lives has always been with immense benefit.


  1. Replies
    1. It's so cool that we have kids that are so close to the same age!

  2. This is so fun and helpful for me to read since my son is a few months younger! That's awesome that you've had such a good experience with the floor bed. We used one when my son was born and loved it...until he became mobile. Bedtime wasn't a huge issue, but his naps got super short. It seemed like he was too eager to explore, and could no longer transition sleep cycles, he just woke up to play instead. After over a month of short naps, I tried a travel crib and he immediately took long naps again! Still, I loved the floor bed, and am thinking I might try it again soon, perhaps once he switches to one nap per day. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. I know, I love seeing what James is up to! I do think that Benedict is less likely to go back to sleep, as I suspect he does often when he is confined to a crib, now that he is in a floor bed. How is James doing with his transition to one nap with school? That must be so difficult for him! My kids are not super adaptive sleepers either, and are very affected by lack of sleep.