I first started to hear about Montessori when my friends started having babies. It’s a form of education that offers a broad vision of education as an aid to life. It draws its principles from the natural development of the child, letting each individual child’s inner directives freely guide them toward wholesome growth.
One friend enrolled her daughter in a Montessori preschool because she had trouble concentrating in a normal preschool environment. My other friend actually taught at a Montessori preschool where her child attended. It was this friend who truly introduced me to the concept.
She told me it was all about letting your little one learn at their own pace, make their own decisions, and when you can, choosing natural products and activities. She said something like, “You’re probably already Montessori and don’t even know it,” and she was right.
Now that I’ve been consciously practicing Montessori for awhile, I hear a lot of discussion about what toys are appropriate, and concern about what it takes to make your environment perfect. We are all on our own journey—there is not a standard we all must meet in order to practice this lifestyle.
You don’t have to include Montessori in every part of your life to practice Montessori.
I’d like to think Montessori is more about the interactions you have with your child on a day-to-day basis and the way you respond when given a chance to educate your child, providing hands-on opportunities for your child to learn.
Here are some ways you might already be doing that.
Respecting your child
If you’re talking to your child, not at your child, it’s a good start. Yes, you are the adult but you can still show your child respect and talk to them like you would an equal.
Allowing your child to make decisions
This works best when offering two or three choices, so you don’t overwhelm your child. For example, asking them whether they would like to wear the blue coat or the red coat today. This helps them with confidence and independence.
Letting your child help you
Children want to learn. Letting them help with laundry, cleaning, cooking, and gardening are all great ways to incorporate your child in everyday tasks. It is very hard to let your child make a mistake that you can foresee, but it is also very important for them to learn the consequences of their actions. Obviously, if your child is in danger you should intervene.
Encouraging old-school play
Truth be told, we still have a few flash toys hiding away here that I just couldn’t bring myself to give away, but if you want to incorporate some Montessori principles into your playroom donate all your flashy, noisy plastic toys.
Trying not to say “No”
This one can be difficult, but try to create more “yes” spaces in your house. Instead of saying, “No,” you can say, “We don’t play with those Tommy. How about we read a book?” It’s always best to tell your child exactly what they shouldn’t be doing, and then give them a new activity to focus on. This allows your child to explore worry-free.
If you're just starting your journey, it’s good to know that you don’t have to do everything perfectly to consider yourself Montessori. So if you have to change the guidelines a bit to meet your needs, don’t stress about it. There are several guidelines to living Montessori, but at the end of the day, using the parenting style that suits you is the key to successful implementation.