Little ones at home from school? Thrive with these practical Montessori strategies.
What’s the ideal Montessori home environment?
Should I purchase all the Montessori materials I can get my hands on? Should I re-create my child’s Montessori classroom in the playroom? Or should I skip all that and just focus on accessible, child-sized water glasses and hand-held brooms?
It depends on the situation. Today, I’m going to focus on one situation:
School is canceled. Your kids are home all day.
(This situation might occur during the summer, and the advice I give would work well then, too. But to fill you in if you’re reading this at a later date, I wrote this in the midst of the 2020 COVID 19 pandemic. Schools are closed around the world.)
What is the best way to support the development of your 3-6 year old children at home?
Is now the time to set up a Montessori homeschool environment?
Montessori at Home
Here’s some advice from my trainers: don’t try to recreate a Montessori classroom at home.
This advice was given years ago, in response to parents wondering how to support their Montessori-enrolled children after school. It’s good advice today too as we deal with school closures.
Note: If you’re going all in on Montessori homeschooling and have several children, a home classroom might be the way to go. But for those of you who are just wondering what to do with your kids who are home from school, take a simpler approach.
Here’s why: it takes more than materials to create a true and effective Montessori classroom environment. The number of children and their ages, the tactics of the adults, etc. also contribute to a successful classroom.
While a full blown classroom isn’t the way to go, here are Montessori strategies you can implement at home, anytime:
1. Set a Routine
“Order is one of the needs of life which, when satisfied, produces real happiness.”
– Maria Montessori
Kids and grownups alike can benefit from a good routine, but it’s particularly important for kids, who are in a sensitive period for order.
A good routine is much easier to implement than a strict schedule. You can do it!
👉🏻 Learn how to set a routine that works for your family here: How to Create a Simple Routine for Preschoolers
2. Offer Engaging Activities
“Movement helps the development of the mind, and this finds renewed expression in further movement and activity.”
– Maria Montessori
During the early years (before age 6), the Montessori focus is to help the child reach normalization through concentration.
Basically, engagement with meaningful activity is super important. You can do this at home!
So even though your child isn’t getting new Montessori lessons during this time, you can support his development by offering activities that capture his interest.
- Go for hands-on activities: When the hand and the brain work together, amazing things happen.
- Provide a few (2-4) options: If your child chooses her activity, she is more likely to engage with it for a longer period of time. Plus, it’s a chance to practice making choices and developing her will.
- Go simple: Think coloring, digging dirt, building Lego castles, etc. Meaningful takes on a new look here. Almost anything that involves the hand and the brain working together counts.
- Connect, then walk away: First connect your child with the activity, by showing him how it works or what the limits are (no digging next to Mom’s roses, etc.) Then, allow him to work independently and without interruption. You can keep an eye on him while protecting his concentration.
- Chores count: Small children love to do what they see us doing. It seems important to them. So show your child how to sweep the floor, water the plants, put the spoons away, and mix the dry ingredients. These can become part of her routine!
👉🏻 Discover more: Practical Life is the Foundation of Montessori: Why Do We Rush It?
3. Encourage Independence
“Development takes the form of a drive toward an ever-greater independence.”
– Maria Montessori
Montessori is an education for independence. Support this aspect of your child’s development at home as much as possible.
- Give freedom within limits: Children are growing in independence, but they’re not there yet. They still need our help. Honor this by setting clear boundaries, especially with regards to discipline, and within those boundaries allowing the child freedom.
- Offer a few good choices: This is one way to allow freedom within limits. For example, let her choose between two shirts, between milk and water, etc.
- Help the child help himself: Show him how to get dressed in the morning, then let him do it by himself. Show him how to get a glass of water, to look at a book, to prepare a snack, etc. Make sure the limits/rules are clear.
- Make materials available: As much as possible, store anything the child needs throughout the day within her reach. Water glasses and a step stool to reach the tap. Crayons, pencils, and paper. Books. Explain any limits clearly, and remove materials that are being mis-used.
4. Spend Time Together
“…what is necessary is the child’s participation in our lives…to extend to the child this hospitality…”
– Maria Montessori
- Include your child in your activities: Set aside a little extra time and let her help you make dinner. Show him how to pull weeds. Do squats and lunges together. Let him sit in quietly on a Zoom call. (You might want to run that one by your boss.)
- Read together: Self-explanatory.
- Take walks together: Go slowly and notice things together. What are the clouds doing? Can you hear the birds?
- Answer all the questions: If you don’t know the answer, just tell him.
- Have conversations: Linger over meals if possible and have some good old fashioned conversation. Ask questions, and tell stories.
👉🏻 Discover more: DIY Reading Nook
Now I want to hear from you:
What’s one new strategy you’d like to implement today?
What’s already been working for you?
Leave a comment below and share your stories, insights, and questions. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
~ Jean Marie