Is Montessori for you? How I discovered Montessori and why we Montessori and Montessori at Home.
I had always been wondering what type of parent I want to be. The more time I spent with my son, the more I noticed how intelligent my son is. How ready he is to learn. His individuality and the way he quickly learns and absorbs everything around him.
I began my journey to EcoMom. Started with eco home products and eco baby products which in turn created my own natural company ‘ECONEST’. I then found out about wooden toys and natural toys. This is when I also observed how toddlers are human with human emotions that need validation.
My friend, whose sister in law is a Montessori teacher, told me about it. She also invited me to the Facebook group ‘Montessori 0 to 3 years’. I was hooked and drawn to the Montessori toys and work that is wooden and made from natural materials.
To top it, my husband handmade my sons’ toddler Pine (wooden) table and chair. We also bought him a low wooden toddler bed.
Why we choose Montessori?
It already fits with my personal philosophy.
Child centered: following the childs’ interest, natural instinct to learn and setting up attractive and independent spaces in your home up that are child centered and child safe.
Montessori also allows for ‘yes centers’ in the home and makes the home or some areas of it child-friendly. Because most homes are adult centered only. But children are also part of the family. Montessori is all inclusive. Montessori is a way of life.
I am drawn to the Natural materials used are non-toxic, last longer, are more sustainable, don’t pollute the environment, are less over stimulating but encourage learning.
Raises self-confident children.
Teaches life skills at an early age that are useful for years to come such as baking, cooking from scratch, sewing and threading, cleaning etc.
Encourages and glorifies in uniqueness. Sees an individual. Does not judge nor categorize. Focuses on what the child is interested in at the moment.
Enhances independence and self-capable children.
Allows for repetition so that the skill is learned, practiced and known.
I also like that some Montessori Materials I can DIY and concepts I can use at home as well as I can use what I already have. Montessori at home is more practical and cheaper. The first thing I made is the DIY prominence box.
I love toy rotation concept in Montessori.
Encourages and enhances special skills such as concentration, hand eye coordination and self-efficiency etc.
Enhances creativity. Touches on the inner side of self-creativity that each person has and is born with.
Montessori maximizes on Minimalist, organized and simple or slow living.
Freedom in a guided environment and as much as we allow them to.
Montessori work is play that the toddler learns from. Montessori toys are mostly versatile and open ended meaning that they can be used in numerous ways. And they are not over-stimulating. Teaches while the child plays.
I also love the practical life and sensorial life sector of Montessori that is unique to Montessori and allows for the child to be a more prominent member of the family.
Encourages a calm and peaceful home with less to no yelling and more understanding of each member in the house.
Emphasis on the outdoors and outdoor or nature play. My son and I already did nature walks before we discovered Montessori.
I love the reaction on my sons face the first time I allowed him to do something he wouldn’t normally do without my supervision. This reaction I love when I allowed him to wash dishes with me, when I set up a space for water play and pouring, when he brushed his teeth on his own, cut bananas on his own, taking his socks off etc.
Every time he tries something new he says “Yeah, I did it”. And that self-satisfaction look keeps me going. He is getting more confident in doing things on his own. Today, he poured water from our water filter on the fridge.
It also prepares the adult and there are lots of resources for this.
It also organizes your environment.
Encourages Self-discipline, Self-correction and expression in a prepared environment.
Enhances vocabulary, math skills and personal skills. Teaches other subjects such as science, geography, history and language.
Celebrates nature. (My philosophy.)
Where to start Montessori?
Prepared environment should be a space that allows for natural development that enables children to develop important life skills and enables freedom to independent and capable children. The things we need in our home to begin with are:
- Small table and chair.
- Low open shelf with trays preferably with handles and baskets for work.
- Work mat made from natural materials and is dull in color to allow the materials to stand out.
- Cozy Nook or reading area with a front facing bookshelf for calming moments.
- Low bed /floor mattress.
- Natural realistic pictures as deco for room and pictures of close familiar family
- Low stool for reaching sink. As well as space in the fridge and cupboards that is accessible to your toddler with healthy snacks, water and cutlery for your toddler.
- Toddler height cleaning equipment such as broom, cloths, mop etc
- Toddler safe stepladder/learning tower for the kitchen.
- Low hooks or dress up area with a stool and
- Self-care station in your bathroom with toddler toothbrush, wash bin, washing baskets for dirty clothes and a stool to dress and undress.
- Low stool in your bathroom to reach the toilet and wash bin.
The adult should be observe the child to be prepared for Montessori and prepared a place for the child in the home. Watching what we say and how we react to the child, talk about the child even when the child is not present.
This also includes preparing ‘work’ for the toddler to use. And having faith in your child to do it. Setting the example for the child to follow.
Montessori prepared materials can be so expensive, I decided to DIY Montessori and Pinterest lead me to Montessori at home ideas. I followed Montessori blogs, Youtube, Pinterest googled materials, signed up for Montessori at Home webinars, Joined Facebook groups that DIY and or are Montessori at Home, and bought Montessori Books and activities.
Some of these websites and blogs offered them for free. I only got what I need at the moment and will update as I go. There is so much overwhelming information out there but I followed my childs interest ‘sensitive periods’ at the moment.
The Montessori toddler explains this in detail.
Montessori Books to read:
The Montessori Toddler simplified everything for me. It explained thoroughly how Montessori is unique, how to apply it to my toddler. Explained Montessori at home, how to be a prepared adult and how to prepare the environment for the toddler plus some materials to use.
I learned that “Toddlers thrive in an environment that challenges them; they seek to be understood, And they take in the world around them like sponges.”
The Absorbent Mind
“ A different form which concerns humanity itself and which has never been taken into consideration. The real constructive energy, alive and dynamic, of children, remained unknown for thousands of years. Just as men trod upon the earth first and cultivated its surface in later times, without knowing of or caring for the immense riches that lay hidden in the depth,
so is man now-a-days progressing in civilisation without knowing of the riches that lie buried inside the psychic world of the child and indeed, for thousands of years, from the very beginning of humanity itself, man has continued repressing these energies and grinding them into the dust.
It is only today that a few have begun to suspect their existence. Humanity has begun to realise the importance of these riches which have never been exploited something more precious than gold; the very soul of man.”
“The child has a type of mind that absorbs knowledge and instructs himself.”
Montessori blogs and websites to follow and for free and paid work:
Simone Davies @ The Montessori Notebook
Teachers Pay Teachers (has lots of educational materials)
Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram
Mother.ly has a specific section
- Practical life
- Langauge: Reading Phonics
- Cultural: Natural Science, Geography, history
Materials my son is interested in at 2 and a half years old:
Beading, lacing and threading
Cracking a raw egg
Where to get shelves and materials and activities in South Africa:
Stationary shops: I found wooden trays at PNA, CNA has art equipment
Art supply shops
Storage Supply stores: Westpack has a wooden section: toys, puzzles, woven baskets, blocks, Cars
Flea Markets: China Mall also has a wooden toys section, farm animals, woven baskets and art equipment.
Furniture shops like Pine on 14th.
Grocery stores: like Game have a wide selection. I found a Montessori broom at Game.
Nature: Botanical Gardens, Parks, around your complex, your back yard.
Second hand stores: I find various materials at Cash convertors like glass bottles.
Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Montessori Groups and Facebook buy and sell groups
Sustainable toy shops like https://mrschettylifestyle.co.za/little-amber-rabbit/
Why we use Trays:
To keep work organized and uncluttered.
Work is laid in the open for the child to clearly see each part.
Holds small and loose parts (keeps them from getting lost).
The child works easier.
Holds all parts in place.
Allows the child to carry with both hands.
Gives the child a work area.
Aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Remember to get realistic materials and made from natural materials.
Set materials up in an organized 3 part way. That allows the child to think for themselves and solve the problem.
Trays should also be lightweight, horizontally laid with handles to allow the child to pick up with two handles.
How I decluttered and organized our shared bedroom for Montessori.
And our shelfy for the week.
I’ll be creating more content on Montessori, It is my focus for next year along with everything I am already about.
Follow me on Instagram where I have many pictures and other activities of how we do Montessori at Home.