Start with Why
Think about what first attracted you to Montessori and why you want to bring Montessori principles into your family life at home. Tapping into your values and motivation will clarify the best place for you to start.
Maybe for you it's mostly about a respectful way of parenting that facilitates your child's independence and nurtures your child's inner motivation.
Parenting the Montessori way is all about adopting a new way of thinking and developing new habits. Over time you'll train yourself to do less, say less and interfere less.
You'll give your child opportunities to do things by himself or herself, slowing down so your child has lots of time to practice these real-life skills. This includes establishing a process for resolving social conflicts peacefully. By allowing your child to choose from a limited set of acceptable options and being comfortable with the natural consequences of that choice, your child will learn how to make good decisions.
Establishing clear and consistent expectations, modelling appropriate behaviour, and encouraging your child's efforts are a few of the habits you'll develop as a Montessori parent.
Maybe you're inspired by beautiful images of clutter-free and child-friendly Montessori spaces.
Your vision is to bring more order into your home and family life, with everyone contributing in their own way.
You'll probably want to start by decluttering your home and adding low shelves for your child's toys, art supplies and books. With less stuff and a place where everything belongs, your child will be able to help keep the space tidy. Your child will also absorb the idea that things are valuable and we need to treat them gently and put them away when we're done working with them.
You'll also focus on establishing routines and expectations around helping with food preparation and cleaning the home. It's not about doing "chores" as much as it's about your child learning real-life skills and being a contributing member of the family. Set up your child for success by demonstrating how to contribute to the family using child-size tools.
Maybe you're wanting to engage your toddler or preschooler with some educational activities at home.
You'll want a solid understanding of how the practical life and sensorial activities indirectly prepare your child for academic work. If you're considering Montessori homeschooling, you'll also want to become familiar with the sequence of Montessori lessons for a child who is 3-6 years old and learn about the Montessori approach to writing, reading and math.
Make an Action Plan
Make time for ONE simple task you can do today. Here are some ideas to get started.
If your focus is on Montessori parenting:
- Identify one task your child could do independently with some instruction. The next time your child asks for help with that task, show him or her how to do it. Demonstrate the steps slowly and give your child time to practice.
- When you get the urge to fix something your child has done, pause. Let it go! If you re-do something your child has done, his or her effort becomes unnecessary.
If your focus is on setting up your home Montessori-style:
- Install a low clothes rod in your child's closet. It can be as simple as a rod attached to the higher one using string.
- Remove clothes from your child's room that are out of season or not the current size.
- Toss or donate 5-10 toys. Start with toys that are broken and toys that your child no longer plays with. (Repeat each day!)
If your focus is on child-led learning:
- Book a tour at an accredited Montessori school. Ask if you can observe a toddler or Casa class so you can see the Montessori approach in action. If this isn't possible, watch A Montessori Toddler Morning (5 minute video) or A Montessori Morning (4 minute video) that follows a 4 year old boy during the morning work cycle.
There is no right or wrong way to get started with Montessori at home.
Whether you focus on embracing the Montessori mindset, setting up your home Montessori-style or inviting your child to work with Montessori materials, each approach supports the others as they are all interconnected. Montessori at home is a journey. It's taking one step at a time towards creating a prepared environment that supports your child's natural development.