September 03, 2020Montessori
Montessori At Home! - 3 Things Parents get wrong
By Frances Madueke-Ozorue
‘Montessori’ is fast becoming a household name. But while it’s pretty well known as an alternative form of education, there is often still an air of confusion around it. Parents are yet to understand what it truly means or how they can incorporate Montessori at home.
It’s not surprising to learn that parents whose kids attend Montessori schools know little or nothing about Montessori.
For the purpose of clarity, I need to describe Montessori using the simplest terms.
So, what is Montessori?
First, Montessori method of education was developed by a female Italian Doctor- Maria Montessori in the early 20th century.
She developed this method of education with the child in mind! At the time, she was working with kids wherein she made wonderful discoveries about the child. She found that the adults seemed to work around and for the kids while totally ignoring the child.
She compared the old way of learning where adults made decisions for the kids hardly letting them do things themselves and discovered the missed opportunities these caused the kids. In order to change this, she introduced materials, employed an assistant and let the kids work on the materials with little guidance.
She noticed a fantastic change in the kids; they were eager to learn, developed relevant skills and had a total reformation in their behaviors. It was beautiful to watch that kids could love order and work.
She concluded that any child can assume his/her full potentials when given the right guidance, treated with love and respect, put in ‘prepared’ environment where hands-on materials are provided and they are left to use the materials at their own time, learn at their own pace and given freedom but with limits.
She opined that for a child to blossom, the adult caregiver must recognize that his/her role is at the back seat and the child’s is right in front- being in charge. That way the child develops a sense of belonging, gains confidence and learns the required skills to tackle any challenge and soar in any situation.
However, as much as ‘Montessori’ seems to be the best way to raise kids, some parents do not know how to incorporate it at home to foster learning.
In my years of working with parents, I found that they felt reluctant to incorporate Montessori at home because they got certain things wrong about the method of education. They always thought Montessori interfered with their parental authority.
I will discuss 3 major things parents get wrong about Montessori.
1. I can’t have a prepared environment at home because Montessori materials are expensive:
I’m going to be real and agree with you that Montessori materials are not as affordable as we would like them to be. However, have you heard the saying that ‘good things don’t come easy’? Despite parents’ grumble about the prices of these materials, they end up buying toys or other items that add up to same amount as the Montessori materials. These toys on the other hand, provide the child little or no opportunities to learn developmental skills; they have fixed keys and ‘how-tos’, they are non-manipulative thereby do not encourage creativity. Moreso, you don’t need to buy all the Montessori materials; that’s the responsibility of the school. All you need are few basic ones for example puzzles, pink tower, color box, sandpaper numerals & letters, spindle box, Montessori clock etc. The good news is, the internet is filled with Montessori inspired activities to engage your kids in, some of them provide DIYs inspirations too that you can easily make.
2. My home will be untidy when I let my child play with whatever he likes and whenever.
I totally understand your fear and your fear is valid. But, do you know that children love order? You don’t believe it right? Well, one of the discoveries of Maria Montessori is the child’s ‘Love for order’. You only need to teach it- Buy/build low shelf and label each section for a particular group of materials, Buy only child-sized materials and point out where each material goes after use. , extend this behavior in other areas of the home. It is counterproductive to teach your kids to keep their room/play area tidy whereas your room or any other room in the home is unkept. Model cleanliness! Remember, you’re your child’s model.
3. If I let my child be in charge won’t that mean my child will disobey me and ignore my instructions?
The line was ‘Freedom with limits’ so yes, you’re still very much the adult. Letting your child work at his own time and pace with whatever, whenever and wherever doesn’t go without your guidance or instructions. For example, Instead of saying ‘go and read your book’, say ‘which of your books will you like to read?’ This way, you’re stating that it’s ‘book time’ but the child gets to choose which to read. Giving the child the power to choose will encourage cooperation. Kids especially toddlers are known to push boundaries, you have to learn to be firm and be consistent.
Creating a Montessori home doesn’t have to be confusing, expensive or overwhelming. It is possible that you’re already practicing a few Montessori principles. With the right guidance, you can bring more of this into your home with ease.
If you're looking for more information about how to incorporate these ideas into your family's environment or where to buy Montessori materials you can follow and find on Instagram- https://instagram.com/_themontessoriplace?igshid=1oh8yrffdp9tn
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Frances is a trained Montessori educator and has taught for over 5 years. She was on the Management team in a leading school in Lagos where she was the Foundation Head. She is currently the Founding director of a Montessori Foundation school(Geneva Heights School) in Festac Lagos, Nigeria. She is also a toddler parent coach that work with parents through effective ways to raise emotionally intelligent, responsible and wholesome kids.
Follow her on IG @_themontessoriplace for contents on Montessori education, Montessori materials, Intentional parent coaching and Early years sex education.
She can be reached on email@example.com