Using Montessori at home might require a bit of initial work as you set up, but once you get started, you might be surprised to find that it feels quite natural.
Regardless of whether you have a baby, toddler or school-aged child, it’s never too early or too late to begin incorporating Montessori methods at home.
How can I start Montessori at home?
As Montessori education becomes increasingly popular, it’s easy to overlook the method and assume that Montessori practices can only be applied in formal educational settings. However, if you’re wanting to provide your child with a Montessori experience, one of the best ways to do so is to incorporate Montessori at home.
One of the best ways to start Montessori at home is to begin including your child in daily practical life activities. Things that most adults consider to be “chores”, such as laundry, food preparation, cleaning, walking the dog, etc., are often of great interest to children.
Using the Montessori method at home means that you’ll want to provide your child with opportunities to be as independent as they choose to be. This involves setting up your home with child-size furniture and placing toys or objects at low height for them to access.
What is a Montessori home?
The idea of a Montessori home is quite simple: it is a space where children can be independent, take part in household activities, and choose how to spend their time.
Setting up your home to facilitate use of the Montessori method means seeing the space through your child’s eyes. It means that children are welcome to take part in daily chores, they are responsible for themselves to the extent that they are capable, and are treated with the same respect as adults.
The Montessori method can involve very specific, targeted activities when it comes to learning and education, but incorporating its principles at home is much easier than most expect.
Focusing on the foundational principles will help you set up Montessori at home with success.
How to Set Up at Montessori Home
Whether you are new to Montessori or are already familiar with the method, there are a few simple changes you can make to your home to facilitate the use of Montessori principles.
With a few simple tweaks and adjustments, any home can become a Montessori home in no time. Here are a few tips to get started creating a Montessori home.
Get organized! The first step to creating a Montessori home environment is to clear away unnecessary objects and clutter. Create an open space that looks neat, tidy and encourages exploration.
Store and rotate
Minimize the number of toys and books available at one time. Place a few toys on display and store the rest. Once toys and books have been stored, created a rotation system to bring out stored toys every so often and mix things up for your child.
Create a safe space for your child to explore. Use gates to block any stairs or unsafe areas, creating an open space that is safe for your child in every nook and cranny.
Invest in child sized tools and furniture
Providing a child sized stool, chair, table, toilet or anything else helps them gain independence and confidence. As much as possible, provide furniture that is your child’s size and accessible to them on their own.
Provide access to adult furniture
Providing a child-sized version of every item of furniture is unrealistic, so for the items that you are unable to size down, provide access through the use of step stools, helper towers, etc. These additions are especially helpful for children to gain independence using the counter, bathroom sink, etc.
Keep toys and books on low shelves
One essential element of using the Montessori method at home is that everything a child needs or will use throughout the day should be accessible to them. Investing in some low shelving units will help you display toys and books at eye level, so children can reach for them as they wish.
Make snacks and kitchen utensils accessible
Similar to toys, snacks and kitchen utensils should also be available and accessible to your child in a Montessori home. Designate a low drawer or cabinet for storing healthy snacks, plates, bowls, cups, etc. for your child. When they are able, they will be able to select the necessary dishware or food for their next snack or meal.
Hang pictures and art at their eye level
A frequently overlooked detail of the Montessori home is that art and pictures are displayed at the child’s eye level. Playrooms and bedrooms are the perfect location for hanging low artwork on the walls for your child to enjoy.
These elements help differentiate between a non-Montessori and Montessori home. While the space and material available may variation of the setup, keeping the child in mind when creating your space is key for successfully utilizing the Montessori method at home.
9 Ways to Incorporate Montessori at Home
Once your home is set up in a way that allows you to practice Montessori principles, the next step is learning to utilize all of the changes you have made to their full extent.
Here are a few simple ways to incorporate Montessori at home, right from the start.
It’s easy to feel like we need to play endless activities, events and playdates for our child. However, the Montessori method focuses more on a slower pace. Try planning less structured activities, and allowing for more free blocks of time. Allow your child to dictate the activities, and explore life at their pace.
Treat everyone with respect
Respect is a key component when it comes to using Montessori at home. Treat your child with respect at all ages – starting from infancy. Talk to them as you would to any other adult. Acknowledge their feelings, communicate with them, and aim to never belittle them or speak poorly of them.
Involve your child in daily activities
One could argue that perhaps the biggest difference between a “standard” home and a Montessori home is the child’s involvement in everyday household activities. Allow your child to participate in and help with tasks like laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc. The older they get, the more involved they can be.
Emphasize hands on learning
Children are often very curious of what we are doing, but more often than not, they get shut down because we believe they either aren’t capable of participating or will slow down the process. If your child is showing interest in something you are doing, allow them to try – even if it means taking twice the amount of time.
Provide opportunities for concentration
We often assume that because of their age, children are unable to concentrate. While they certainly can’t concentrate on something for as long as an adult, they are absolutely capable of concentrating at their own pace. Find activities which your child enjoys and provide opportunities for them to concentrate without distraction, noise or interference.
Focus on problem solving, not rewards
Incorporating the Montessori method at home usually involves a great deal of positive parenting practices. Instead of time outs and other forms of punishment, Montessori parents focus on helping the child problem solve. Teach your child to use their intrinsic motivation to complete a task, rather than motivation based on a bribe or external source.
Be the guide, not the boss
In a Montessori home, you’ll learn to become more of an equal with your child. The parent’s role is to guide their child through the day while keeping them safe. Provide opportunities for your child to explore, discuss and learn why certain boundaries exist.
Follow the child
Following the child is one of the fundamental elements of the Montessori method. Your home should provide an open space with plenty of opportunities for the child. Spend time observing them to see what they seem to choose and focus on the most, and then tailor your activities or toy selection based on their current interests.
In order to be a positive, encouraging and supportive parent, you’ll need to spend time filling your own bucket. We are all human, and each get angry or stressed at times. Take the time to evaluate your triggers and create a way to handle them. Incorporate various stress management practices in order to feel calm, fulfilled and present with your child when they need you.
Once you have begun incorporating Montessori at home, you’ll find that the options for daily activities are limitless. Often the most engaging activities for children are some of the simplest – and therefore, frequently overlooked.
Try some of these home Montessori activities to give your day some variety and expose your child to as many different activities as possible.
Montessori Home Activities
- Household chores: cleaning, laundry, etc.
- Cooking and food preparation
- Music and movement
- Arts and crafts
- Alphabet activities
- Sensory baskets
- Outdoor exploration
- Hand-eye coordination games or toys
The best part about incorporating Montessori methods at home is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes the simplest, most routine activities are the most interesting for children.
Begin using Montessori at home by involving your child in your day-to-day activities, and creating a space for them to become independent. Once your space is set up and children have the ability to choose, they confidence grows and skills will flourish.