Parenting The Montessori Way
BY UMA PUNEETH
What is Montessori?
Most of us recognise Montessori as just an alternative form of education, but it is so much more than that. Montessori is a way of life.
The Montessori Method of education was developed by Dr Maria Montessori, the first female Italian doctor, in the early 20th century. She believed that the Montessori Method is an education for independence, preparing not just for school, but for life.
“It is not true that I invented what is called the Montessori Method... I have studied the child; I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it, and that is what is called the Montessori Method.”- Maria Montessori
Montessori has always been known for putting the focus on the child. Speak, listen and respect the needs of the child and most of all, see things from the child’s perspective.
Since the Montessori approach is child-centred, it promotes independent learning and natural development of the child. Therefore, it is necessary to create an environment that promotes the natural progression of the child.
An incredible element of this approach is that it can be integrated at home, without the child having to necessarily attend a Montessori school. Every year, there is a strong inclination towards a natural, simple and a back-to-basics approach to raising children.
So how can you integrate Montessori philosophies into your home environment?
We break it down for you here.
Give them independence
Montessori at home in particular, is about giving your child the independence of body and mind. Children are encouraged to be independent in every aspect of their life. There will be a sense of achievement in the children when they perform routine tasks. The simple tasks could be arranging the toys after playtime, cleaning up after a meal, and so on.
- Arrange your house in accordance with your child’s movements so that they can perform actions of their own.
- Keep the environment ready to enable the child to perform the tasks.
- For a Montessori infant, a low wall mounted mirror, a floor mattress and a Montessori mobile can be beneficial.
- Give your child ample time and space to explore.
- Whether it is the kitchen, the bedroom or the bathroom, ensure that the furniture is small for the child. This can be done by making adjustments to the already existing furniture in the house too.
Keep it simple
The Montessori principle is based on the “less is more” principle.
- Make sure to remove clutter.
- Avoid over-stimulating the child with more toys. The rest of the toys can be stored away for later use.
- Place a minimum amount of toys at the child’s eyesight to create a simple play space that promotes concentration and focus.
- A simple play space enables the child to replace the toys to the place it belongs after playtime. This creates a sense of order for the little one and their play area.
Observe your child
Begin to see the world from the child’s perspective.
- Sit on the floor and spend time with the child, see what works and looks the best form their height and size.
- It is encouraged to respect their views.
- Children communicate through their voices, postures, gestures, mannerisms, and facial expressions.
- Observing them helps us better understand their needs and connect with them.
Involve children in daily activities
It is encouraged to involve the children in day-to-day activities.
- If skills such as cleaning, laundry, setting the table and so on are taught at home at a young age, it will be the greatest gift you can bestow upon your children.
- When kids are allowed to participate in household chores, it will provide them with a set of life skills that will benefit them for life. • Make housework as a part of life. It will teach them how to take care of themselves and the ones around them.
- By participating, the children develop a sense of caring, responsibility and teamwork at an earlier age.
It is easy to reward children for good behaviour, however, the Montessori approach emphasises on acknowledging the child’s commitment and decision to display good behaviour and accomplishing a task.
- Children will feel good when you notice their efforts. Parents can nurture self-motivation in a child through positive reinforcements.
- The parent can guide the kids to do a task, but not entirely do it for them. Ideally, the parent should opt to stay out of the child’s way just enough, so the child can figure out who they are, what they think and where their own interests lie.
- This helps the child overcome low self-esteem and grow up to be a resilient and responsible individual.
Model the behavior you want your child to follow
Children love to copy adults. Therefore it makes sense to model the behavior you want to see in your child.
- Eventually, they will copy your behaviour and it will become a routine.
- Saying please and thank you teaches children kindness, courteous behaviour and to be considerate towards others.
- It is better to demonstrate how to perform an activity rather than instructing them.
- Providing repeated and assisted practice from an early age can have lasting impressions on the child and can be hugely beneficial in developing vital character traits that will serve them in their adult lives as well.
The Montessori style of parenting can be adopted in every home! Many parents can get inspired from the Montessori ideas. The smallest steps can lead to a big difference in a child’s development.
So, keep on observing, “follow the child” and contribute to their growth as human beings.
Uma, along with her husband Puneeth, is the founder of Thasvi Toys.
As a mother of two, Uma realised that there was a lack of developmental toys in India that are safe for children. Along with her husband, she began making the Montessori mobiles for her daughter, which eventually led them to embark on the journey to launch Thasvi, an Indian Montessori toy brand.
Her children are her biggest inspiration and the word Thasvi is a combination of both her children’s names. Thasvi specialises in Montessori inspired, handcrafted, child-safe wooden toys. Many parents have expressed gratitude for making these toys available in India and saving them the time and effort to source these.
Uma hopes to contribute to a more sustainable world, one wooden toy at a time.
See Thasvi's collection of Montessori Toys at The Nestery here - https://thenestery.in/collections/thasvi