Dr. Maria Montessori brought a new method of education to the world in the early 1900s. Children are still benefiting today. Whether or not your preschooler attends a Montessori school, you can help your child by following some basic Montessori principles at home.
Here are the top 3 Montessori principles you can use with your preschooler:
1. Observe and follow your child.
“Let us leave the life free to develop within the limits of the good, and let us observe this inner life developing. This is the whole of our mission.” Maria Montessori
Dr. Montessori based her system of education on observation of the child. The Montessori Method is about observing the child’s needs and interests and following the child in response. If you follow your child’s interests, you’ll find your child loves learning … and learns more easily than he or she would otherwise.
2. Encourage your child’s independence.
“The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s self. Adults work to finish a task; the child works in order to grow and create the adult, the person that is to be.” Maria Montessori
Montessori education is known for the saying “Teach me to do it myself.” One of the best things you can do to foster your child’s independence is to demonstrate new tasks, breaking the tasks down into clear steps. Here’s an article I wrote about demonstrating tasks to encourage independence: How to Help Yourself By Helping Your Preschooler.
Anytime you can provide child-sized materials for your child will help your child’s independence and enjoyment of a task as well. Not only are child-sized materials easier for a child to handle, but they also reflect an attitude of respect for the child.
3. Help your child develop a sense of order and self-discipline.
“What advice can we give to mothers? Their children need to work at an interesting occupation: they should not be helped unnecessarily, nor interrupted, once they have begun to do something intelligent.” Maria Montessori
Colors, shapes, numeral and quantity identification, and a phonetic introduction to reading are just a few of the concepts preschoolers learn in Montessori schools. More important, though, are the sense of order and self-discipline children can develop.
You can help your child develop a sense of order and self-discipline by having a place for everything and encouraging your child to take care of his or her home environment. Low shelves with an orderly arrangement of toys on the shelves are very helpful for your child’s independence and sense of order.
Practical life, or daily living, activities give your child the opportunity to develop order and self-discipline as he or she works through steps in a task and concentrates on that task. When your child is concentrating on a task, don’t interrupt. It’s that absorption in a task that will develop your child’s self-discipline and ability to concentrate for progressively longer periods.
You can find information and videos on a number of practical life activities you could make available for your child at home at www.infomontessori.com. Also, every Monday, I have an activity of the week featuring activities I find online that are appropriate for use in the home.
How have you used Montessori principles in your home?
Our featured guest blogger, Deb Chitwood, has extensive training and experience in teaching using Montessori methods, and has even applied these principles in raising and homeschooling her own children (now adults). Please read more about Deb and the Montessori method on her blog Living Montessori Now.