Montessori in the Home | A Parenting Guide Inspired by the Montessori Education Method

Straining apples to make applesauce
Straining apples to make applesauce

The Montessori Method of Education has been meeting and exceeding the expectations of parents worldwide as not only a method of education inside the classroom but in a greater sense, a means of looking at the way human beings learn throughout their lives.

Although formal Montessori education takes place within a classroom, the human mind begins learning from the first moments of life and every day after that. This ability and curiosity to learn are never-ending.

Maria Montessori believed that learning “is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment” parents and teachers “can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so, they will be witnesses to the unfolding of the human soul and to the rising of a New Man who will not be a victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society"

These are noble goals which can be obtained in simple ways by making small changes to the home and by considering the parent’s role in this environment. Maria Montessori stressed the importance of the child’s environment because it allowed the child to move and explore, and that rather than teach, a caregiver would facilitate the child’s natural learning process.

These and other Montessori philosophies can be applied in the home with amazing results regardless of the school the child attends. I have laid out some easy ways that you can apply this philosophy in your own home:

1. One of the first things that you will notice if you look around a Montessori classroom is low shelving with almost everything accessible to the child. This allows the child to choose their own activity, based on curiosity and since the interest is there, they are most likely to stick with it.

YOU CAN: Apply this concept in your home by keeping safe toys and items within reach and changing them as necessary once the child tires of them.

2. Accessibility also means making the things the child needs most accessible to them.

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YOU CAN:

  • dedicate one low kitchen cabinet for your young child with child safe cups, plates, bowls etc.

  • hang low hooks in the entryway for coats.
  • allow access to their clothes so they can choose their own clothes and assist in laundry work such as sorting, folding, distributing etc.
  • each room can have an area dedicated to their use with neatly placed child safe toys and books.

3. Beds, furniture and basically all the things that a child uses are ideally at their own height, this allows the child to be completely engaged in their environment. Maria Montessori states “Having equipment made proportionate to the size of the children satisfies the need for moving about intelligently.”

4. Give your child time in any activity that they are engaged in, without interruption. Allowing your child this uninterrupted time is one of the secrets to expanding a child’s ability to concentrate. This will reap great benefits for them both now and later in life when they can stay on task. When human beings are able to concentrate for longer and longer periods of time they are gaining not only the ability to focus and accomplish great things but getting to know themselves better.

5. ‘Respect’ is a highly valued quality in the Montessori classroom. It is this respect that teaches children to both value themselves and others as an extension of all living things. This being one of the highest goals of all. Manners are synonymous with respect.

YOU CAN:

  • Read books about manners.
  • Be a model of good manners
  • Speak to your child and listen to what they have to say because valuing each person’s opinion is a sign of respect for the individual.
  • Use puppets to role play both good and bad manners.

6. Take the time to teach your child how to do something using a detailed explanation. If you would like your child to learn how to make their bed, describe it in detail and step by step. It is easy for parents to overlook explanations for things they have long since mastered. Other things to explain are:

  • What to do when you walk in the door; such as hang up your coat, wash your hands etc.
  • How to read a book and return it to the shelf.
  • How to clean a window.
  • How to use a dustpan.

7. When requesting that your child do something, state it in a detailed way, “clean your room” is vague but “pick up all your toy cars” is specific. “Get ready for bed is general” but “brush your teeth” is specific. Even brush your teeth may have to be broken down into “please get your tooth brush” etc.

8. Mixed age classrooms in Montessori Schools replicate the sibling home environment. When an older sibling teaches a younger sibling, the benefits are compound. Beyond the bonding that takes place between the two siblings, the learning for each of them is mutually beneficial. If one child has mastered making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, that is one level of accomplishment, but if he then teaches this skill to a younger sibling he has to convert the knowledge into a lesson which requires an even more advanced set of skills. This is a win-win for all involved.

YOU CAN: Encourage your children to teach skills to one another. It is a beautiful thing!

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9. Cleaning and chores are another part of the Montessori classroom called practical life. Montessori students learn to wipe the table and sweep the floor. You can teach your child to do these things at home. By doing this they will feel like a valuable part of your family. By participating in this way they are also learning self-sufficiency which builds confidence. All of this confidence building will bring them to their next challenge (whatever that may be) feeling stronger for having accomplished the last challenge. It is a confidence building approach since learning is broken down into simple steps, the possibility to learn is boundless. Here Maria Montessori explains the benefit of teaching children to care for themselves:

A man who acts by himself, who expends his strength on his own actions, conquers himself, increases his strength, and perfects himself. If men of the future are to be strong, they must be independent and free

YOU CAN: Have a child accessible broom, dust pan, child safe window cleaning supplies and have a ‘can do’ attitude.

Empanadas made by a 12 year old.
Empanadas made by a 12 year old.

10. Montessori schools offer an international multicultural approach which can be easily incorporated into the home by cooking international foods, reading stories from other cultures and modeling a tolerance for differences. This philosophy is on trend with the direction technology is taking the world.

11. Montessori classrooms not only have a variety of fine art on the walls, it is often rotated throughout the year. This is an easy, yet effective way to introduce art appreciation and create a sense of beauty in the environment.

YOU CAN: Buy a fine art calendar and hang it or frame the artwork itself and rotate the images. Place the artwork low where you child can see it. Each time you change the art work you can discuss the new image with your child.

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12. Montessori kids cook! Cook with your kids. Invite you child to participate with you anytime you are making something and you have time to teach it, it may take longer and be messier but it is worth it. Maria Montessori states “if teaching is to be effective with young children it must assist them to advance on the way to independence”

YOU CAN: Teach your child how to make their own snacks by providing accessible items that a child can get and eat for themselves, such as fruit and crackers. As children get older they can be taught to make a sandwich and even cook eggs with supervision. When introduced to the concepts of cooking at an early age many children can cook almost independently in the kitchen by the age of 11.

Some may say that Maria Montessori was a genius while others have criticized her ideas in saying that the Montessori classroom is limiting and lacks creativity. Either way Maria Montessori cared deeply about children and the role of teachers and caregivers. She did not simply create a method of education that would be useful for children in the confines of a classroom but reshaped the ways in which we look at learning, and in a greater sense that learning is an inherent part of life. I hope this article inspired you or gave you some concepts that may be useful in your home or help you to better understand what the needs of children really are as well as the parent’s role in raising them.

That humanity which is revealed in all its intellectual splendor during the sweet and tender age of childhood should be respected with a kind of religious veneration. It is like the sun which appears at dawn or a flower just beginning to bloom. Education cannot be effective unless it helps a child to open up himself to life.

Maria Montessori


© Copyright 2012 Tracy Lynn Conway with all rights reserved.

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Comments 20 comments

MummyDearest profile image

MummyDearest 4 years ago from Kildare, Ireland

Great hub..I've bookmarked your hub for future reference. Thank you!


tsarnaudova profile image

tsarnaudova 4 years ago from Sofia, Bulgaria

This is absolutely comprehensive hub. You practically covered the entire Montessori method. It is becoming quite popular in my country, and I in particular have serious intention to send my little daughter to Montessori child facility.

Rated up, useful hub.


jponiato profile image

jponiato 4 years ago from Mid-Michigan

Good information. I like the "empowerment" that this method instills in young children. My son attended Montessori for Kindergarten. He has been considered "gifted" ever since. Of course, I'd like to think that genetics had something to do with that :)


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Great suggestions for all parents! Although I don't believe in all of the Montessori teachings, I think that there are so many ways to help kids be more self-sufficient both at home and school. Even implementing a few changes in both places can have a huge effect.


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

MummyDearest, I am so glad that you liked this hub enough to bookmark it. I am also happy to know that this information is useful to you both now and in the future. Thank you!

Tsarnaudova, I love children so much and I really enjoy writing on the topic of education and the role of parents. I am glad that you found it comprehensive and I hope that you have a wonderful Montessori experience if you do decide to send your child there. Thank you!

Jponiato, I am sure genetics had everything to do with it. Perhaps your son's Montessori experience unleashed his gift. I agree with you about the "empowerment." You can sense a level of comfort and a 'do anything' attitude when you speak with a Montessori student. Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience.

Randomcreative, all methods of education have critics, it comes with the territory. As parents we can pick and choose what we like from any method or philosophy that is out there. I still can't get over the fact that some education philosophies directly contradict one another. I am glad you liked the hub and thank you for your great comment.


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

Fantastic hub! I haven't read much about the Montessori method as I typically teach older children and adults. But it is certainly perfect for integrating into home life!


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Nifwlseirff, Montessori concepts such as hands on learning and guiding a student to independence are universally useful concepts for teaching curious minds of all ages. I am so glad you enjoyed the hub, thank you so much!

Tracy


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

These are great ideas for creating an environment in which children can learn. I think I followed a great many of these things with my daughter, even though I didn't know much about the method! Voted up.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

Hi Tracy,

I wanted to let you know that I have included this hub in my list of favorites I've read during the week ending March 11. Congrats. Providing a learning environment for kids at home is such a great idea, and you've provided some great tips on how to do that.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada

Tracy Lynn, this is brilliant! I absolutely love the way you have taken the Montessori concepts and applied to a home setting. I am definitely sharing this one, especially with my sister, who is currently home schooling her daughters.

I was familiar with the Montessori method but you explained it much better for me. Excellent work!


sandrabusby profile image

sandrabusby 4 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

What a beautiful way to remind us all how to interact with children. Thank you. Sandra Busby


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

@Millionare Tips, I find it fascinating that some of the greatest methods of teaching, although on the surface may seem different, share the same core principles. It sounds like you were and are a great parent. Thanks for the positive comment and vote.

Wow, thank you so much for including this hub in your "list of favorites," I am so flattered and honored.

@Priaireprincess, I have been using these concepts with my children since they began attending a Montessori School some years ago. I wanted to find away to break down the concepts and explain them in simple terms. I am thrilled that you were able to gain a better understanding of the Montessori Method, as that was one of my goals in writing this article. Thank you so much for sharing this and for your compliments, I appreciate these very much.

@Sandrabusby, I like how you worded that, sometimes we do need to be reminded of things like this. Thank you!

Best, Tracy


Ciel Clark profile image

Ciel Clark 4 years ago from USA

Hello Tracy, great hub. I was trained in Montessori and did my internship at a school in Seattle--I think the methods are wonderful. You explain the basic concepts very clearly and also I love the photos. Although now I teach adults, I use many of Maria's ideas at home with my own kids. Up awesome and interesting. Thanks for the refresher course!!


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Ciel,

I am thrilled to get a stamp of approval from a Montessori trained teacher. I wanted to provide an easy to understand breakdown of what can seem like confusing concepts to an outsider. Maria Montessori's ideas can and should be applied to environments outside of a Montessori classroom, many of her ideas are universal and are supported by many other education experts. It is great that you could transfer this knowledge to a different educational environment.

Best, Tracy


pixie 4 years ago

Do you follow this form of education with all you children. Are they all high achievers in school


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Pixie,

I have used the Montessori inspired parenting approach outlined in this article with all of my children with great results. My children are all self-reliant, confident and very curious about the world, they are eager learners. They all do well in school but my greater wish for them is to maintain their eager curiosity throughout the course of their lives as well as a sense of peace. Thank you for your questions.

Best,

Tracy


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida

This is great. I do so subscribe to immersing children in their environment. And allowing a child to work at something uninterrupted is another way to enhance the total learning experience. It worked when she first suggested it and it works now

thank you for sharing this with us. Is that little doll in the picture someone near and dear to you?


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Pstraubie48 - Allowing a child time to concentrate without interruption has immense lifelong benefits and is a way of counter balancing the current media driven ADD like habits common with children today. Maria Montessori offers children a timeless approach to life and learning. I am thrilled that you enjoyed this article and yes, my son is pictured in this article.

Best, Tracy


literatelibran profile image

literatelibran 4 years ago from Williamsburg, Virginia

Another excellent hub full of ideas to implement! Voted it up...


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Literatelibran - Thank you for the comment and votes!

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