It’s been ages since I did an update on how we are applying the Montessori method in our home. I will be adding a category in the main menu called “Modern Montessori” soon where our monthly updates will go. I’m calling it Modern Montessori since we are doing a more minimalist, home-oriented style of Montessori rather than the traditional classroom method.
Here are some of the changes we’ve done in our home for Prima recently. She is 18 months old and we are seeing some big developmental changes as a result. It’s been such fun to watch!
- We drastically reduced the toys available to her at any given time. My husband first made the observation that she probably had too many options. I didn’t think so, based on what other people were doing with their 18 month olds (and younger!) First mistake: not listening to my husband’s wisdom and fairly evaluating it. Second mistake: comparing what Prima needs and what we are doing to how “everyone else” is doing it. Montessori is supposed to be primarily about “follow the child” – observe what your child needs right now based on his/her actions and roughly based on his/her age. Also consider: what can your space support? Our space cannot support lots of shelves and activities, toys, materials, or whatever out at one time. It quickly becomes cluttered and overwhelming. After I rotated out her toys and things and she still did not use most of them, I decided to follow my husband’s suggestion.
- I removed all of the things from the larger shelf in front of our stairs. I put out only those activities and toys that seemed to correspond with what she was choosing to do (matching, playing with animals, lots of music/rhythms, and practice with various types of lids on bottles and containers.)
- There is a shelf and a floor basket filled with books, and another basket with a few balls and bean bags for when she wants to throw and chase. I left out a bead stringing activity in her bedroom, along with a couple of books and favorite animals. She uses the books to “read” from when she first wakes up in the morning, and occasionally before bedtime.
- Art items such as paper, scissors, pens, pencils, and notebooks are put away where she cannot access them at any time. Soon we will reorganize our art/camping closet so that she can choose what she wants. First she has to learn to stay seated longer when “coloring” and to not draw on walls, her clothes, or the dog. (Yes, the dog.) This might be an indication of her needing more active time before having a coloring activity.
- Other activities (materials) such as color matching and matching animals and other pictures are also put away for now. She can’t do them completely on her own, so since we don’t have space to put a shelf for her “not quite mastered” tasks like in Montessori classrooms, they will come out in the afternoons when I am able to sit and focus on them with her.
- We removed all of the baby gates, as I mentioned a few months back. Mainly because Prima figured out how to defeat every. single. one. She even has a scar on her cheek to prove it! Since we still want to restrict her access to some rooms upstairs, we just keep those doors closed.
- We spend at least an hour outside, weather permitting. As probably most moms of toddlers discover, these kids seem to 1.) have boundless energy and 2.) love to be outside getting into everything they see. Plus we get some extra Vitamin D, and the house stays a little cleaner! It’s basically a winning scenario for all of us.
- Prima now gets to “help” cook with a chair in the kitchen. We haven’t gotten around to making the learning tower yet. Fortunately I can stick the chair into the corner and she can have a container, her little utensils, and some water or veggie bits and be pretty happy. Then when it’s time to do things at the stove, like dump in the cut up veggies or stir the pot or what have you, I move her and the chair, and let her have a go at it. She always looks so proud of herself! If she is really hungry or tired, she can be more in the way than a help. Sometimes I just let her sit at this stool with a snack and a drink while I cook.
That’s all I can think of at the moment! We have some things we want to change up to make the bathroom and kitchen more accessible to her. And we have a lot of reorganizing to prepare for Secundus’ arrival in June. I’ll update with how that’s going in late May.