For all the parents who have asked me a quick sum up of the montessori principles, especially, principles you can follow at home, with examples, this one is for you. Im a newbie myself, but these are some principles that have helped us and now we realize, we follow them unconsciously. They have become a way of life at home.
1. A for Action
Maria Montessori believed that movement is directly related to cognition. Children need to move their hands and legs focussed on an activity, guided by their intellect.
So instead of reciting 1 -10 ask your child to count the onions in your basket, or run their fingers on sandpaper numbers. This also doubles up as a sensory activity.
2. B for beauty
You go to a store and see a gorgeous yellow pashmina with detailed embroidery, and a plain crumpled piece of dull grey cloth. Which one are you tempted to touch, run your fingers through?
No brainer right?
Similarly, children are attracted to beautiful things. They are encouraged to pick up, touch and explore(refer point 1) things that catch their interest. That is another reason why toy rotation helps.
So have a basket of beautiful colored buttons or figurines in their toy shelf. Hang some attractive posters in their play room. Make their space a joyful one, one that encourages happiness and learning.
Please note – beauty does not always mean jazzy.
3. C for Choice
Children learn best if they are given the freedom to choose their learning. I dont ask you to completely hand over the baton to your child, but simple choices that makes him feel valued and responsible for his learning. That is another reason why montessori toy shelves are made children sized so that they can pick their own toys or books.
“Would you prefer apple or banana for a snack today?” ( See what I did there, I did not present a choice between chocolate and banana.)
Give them a fair choice, but enjoyable ones. Choices should not feel like punishment. Say, your toddler is having a meltdown demanding a chocolate,
“Would you want to be spanked or eat broccolli?” is NOT a good choice. (Let me clarify that spanking is never ever a good choice)
“Would you like that chocolate after you have finished your dinner or after your chores?”, is somewhat more reasonable.
4. D for desire
Frankly, I never saw eye to eye with Maria on this one, although I see her point now.
Maria believed that the prize of an activity should be the completion of the activity itself and not something as petty as a gift or prize. This would encourage the joy of learning in children. I always thought children were too, for lack of a better word, small to understand intrinsic motivation, but I was wrong.
Don’t believe me?Watch your child struggle and complete a hard puzzle on her own!
So no statements like “Il give you pasta if you finish your book” or ” complete this jigsaw and we will see a nice movie”. Children will get there themselves.
5. E for Environment
Children will learn more from experiencing in the environment than learning through words. I dont mean nature here. I mean any environment- your home, playground, school, outdoors, etc.
Create experiences for your child. Maintain a beautiful and orderly environment. A place for everything. The child learns to put things away in a particular place and learns logical reasoning. Order in surroundings leads to an orderly mind.
Children learn in context with the environment. You take your child to the garden and see a butterfly she is interested in? Zoology lesson right there! Your toddler is having a gala time running up the stairs? How about some counting fun?
6. F for freedom
Montessori classrooms usually encourage free movement and frown upon typical desk and chair culture. We try to follow this at home too. Baby V basically roams anywhere and everywhere, whenever she wants. She can play with whatever she wants within her reach, explore and afterwards we put the back (refer previous point).
Having child sized furniture/ cutlery/ tools will also help children get independent early on and give them a sense of accomplishment.
7. G for group
This one is a no-brainer. Children learn through collaboration. Bring on those play-dates. Have reading clubs. Have playground friends. More the merrier. ( Unless one of them is a biter! Kidding 😉 )
Most importantly, follow your child. His/her interests, aptitude and attitude will help you plan your activities. Seize the teachable moments in each day and create learning experiences for your child that enrich them. And yes, have fun along the way- both you and your child. 🙂
Was this article helpful? Would you like to read more in this series?