You cringe as your kid pours milk in their bowl of cereal. Their arms wobble under the weight of the jug. As expected, a bit of milk splashes onto the table.
But, in a perfect demonstration of responsibility and independence, your little one grabs a cloth and wipes up the spill. Not only does your child demonstrate independence, but they also practice their motor skills when serving their own food and cleaning up.
This simple moment shows one way you can use Montessori principles in your home. Here are three other practical ways you can incorporate Montessori in your home, along with the principles they follow:
In the Montessori classroom, children are allowed to choose their own work. This helps ensure that kids are motivated while working, making their efforts more effective. It also offers children the chance to practice decision-making skills, an important life lesson.
You might offer your child choice in the clothes they wear, activities that they do, or in the snack that they eat. However, this freedom of choice should have limits. As Montessori said:
“To let the child do as he likes, when he has not yet developed any powers of control, is to betray the idea of freedom.”
So, allow your child choices, but make your limits and boundaries clear. Your child should have a clear idea of what clothes are appropriate to wear, which activities they can choose from and what snacks are approved.
2. Use Real Materials
Use glass or ceramic dishes instead of plastic ones. Offer your child real cleaning tools (although child-sized is best!). Montessori noticed that children, when given the choice, prefer to use real materials and perform real-life tasks rather than their toy versions. Why should your child pretend to clean or cook when they could be doing the real thing?
Using real materials also involves another Montessori principle: control of error. Glass dishes break when dropped. This means children must handle the dishes carefully and learn to clean up safely when a dish breaks. If you’re concerned about glass dishes breaking too frequently, try using a combination of wooden, metal, and ceramic dishes.
3. Facilitate Independence
Montessori believed that children should be encouraged to develop independence from a young age. From feeding themselves to dressing on their own, preparing and serving their own food, and more, even the youngest children can do a lot on their own. In Montessori classrooms, children practice independence-building skills when they do practical life activities.
You can bring this to your own home by helping your kids be more independent. Facilitate this by placing stools around your home so that your kids can reach sinks and countertops. Another option is to make child-sized furniture available for your kids.
But, the hardest and most important part is staying out of the way until your little one asks for help. As Montessori said:
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
Incorporating Montessori principles into your home requires some adjustments, but if you work at it, you’ll get there. Soon, you’ll notice your children showing greater independence, initiative, and improved decision-making skills.
How do you do Montessori in your home? Tell me about your experiences in the comments!