Whether you currently have a child in a Montessori school, are considering Montessori education or are even the slightest bit curious about who Maria Montessori was and how she revered the life of the child, you belong here.
We at Guidepost Parent want you to know that your learning journey in Montessori does not need to be grandiose. In our time together, we just want to encourage you and help you to see that understanding and living with Montessori methods is everlasting for both the parent and the child, and very intimate at that! It is about learning principles day by day, understanding materials one by one and being in a more intentional, connected relationship with your child as they grow.
Our teachers within our Montessori schools are asked often by a parent, “How can I continue my child’s Montessori education at home?” And this is even asked with angst, as if the parent feels inferior to her child’s education or that her home environment is not conducive to Montessori. But continuing Montessori methods outside the classroom simply begins with better engagement. Here’s how you can start today.
In a Montessori classroom, students work within three-hour work periods. When they arrive to school in the morning, for example, they begin their day by choosing work on their own and engaging with a material so long as they wish. This means the child is left uninterrupted with something she chose for herself and is also left to decide for herself when she’s ready to move on to something new.
Even though there are schedules and possibly other siblings in the home you need to be mindful of, you can still give your child more uninterrupted work time within reason.
If you have free time on a Saturday afternoon, for example, use that time to allow your child to work in solitary, and observe her choices as she moves along. If she asks what to do next or asks for your participation, let her know that you are happy to help her find something enjoyable to do, but then step away from her independent space. Say to her, “I am right here for you if you need anything.” Give your child the time and space to build her concentration, and increase this time as often as you can.
Montessori classrooms also design a “prepared environment” for the child, which includes an intentional set of materials to choose from based on their developmental needs. This also means that the classroom is orderly, clean, and peaceful, and this becomes an expectation for the child. They enjoy coming to work in the classroom, because they quickly learn where things belong and where they can find them. A student must also always return a material to its place before beginning different work and must participate in keeping the classroom orderly, which sets an expectation and responsibility to the child who works in the classroom.
At home, consider how you can prepare your environment for your child. It’s unrealistic to expect your child’s bedroom or toy room to be orderly all the time — when you might have an infant exploring his sibling’s belongings or a dog who likes to steal the balls — but you can be intentional about what you set out for your child, and you can work together to maintain an orderly environment as a united family.
Being a Montessori parent means being a connected, intentional parent, one whom is constantly aware of and respectful of the child. You mustn’t feel obliged to have all the materials within a Montessori classroom inside your living room, but you can observe your child, watching for what interests him, what calms him, and where he needs guidance. Give him the opportunity to work independently, give him the space to explore independently, and give him the uninterrupted time he needs to learn about the world on his own terms, and the both of you will flourish.
About the Author
Angela Tewalt is a mother to two boys. She shares parenting stories and Montessori inspiration at Guidepost Parent.
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