Bringing the Montessori Method Home
"(Parents) alone can and must save their children. Their consciences must feel the force of the mission entrusted to them by nature for...in their hands lies positively the future of humanity, life."
The philosophy of Montessori has, at some point, called to each one of us. Over the years I have seen parents and teachers "fall for" Montessori for a variety of reasons and with a variety of intentions or hopes for its outcome. Whatever the reason we chose this particular journey, it has probably become as clear to you as it has to me that a Montessori education is bigger than the 8 hours a day that our children spend inside the walls of Montessori Community School. Our children are coming home with the ability to think with initiative and innovation. They have the desire to extend their learning outside the classroom. From the time they are small, children are naturally learning. They begin life touching and tasting everything in their path in an effort to learn as much as they can about their environment. For a child who has been in a Montessori environment, their desire for knowledge has not changed much from the time they were infants. They seek knowledge everywhere they go!
One of the most popular questions I get from parents is "how can I support the Montessori philosophy at home?" What are we to do? How do we keep that flame alive so their desire for knowledge continues to grow as they learn the tools necessary to obtain knowledge? As a Montessori mother I can assure you that the items below will make your job bringing Montessori home a whole lot easier as well as making your child’s Montessori experience more rich and meaningful than if it were to stand alone as a “school” experience.
Slow down, model appropriately, and STOP hurrying our children: Our children are watching us. And they are in an environment where they are learning appropriate social behavior. They are learning skills necessary to recognize and communicate their needs and desires. In our homes we can give them a voice! The moments we spend effectively communicating with our little ones will serve them for a lifetime. In addition to hearing their voice and giving it a fair amount of power, we need to SLOW DOWN. Let us all make a committed effort to teach our children to stop and smell the flowers. Lets show them that the only job worth doing is a job done well. Effort and desire produce meaningful results.
Preparation of the environment: Preparing an environment where the child can continue their patterns of growth and discovery is essential to supporting our children’s Montessori experience. This is because our children are in a state where everything in their environment is of essence to their experience as an individual. Our school environment allows the child space to learn in many aspects but often our home environments are set up to suit the needs of the adults. Montessori said, “(The child) absorbs the life going on about him and becomes one with it....The child’s impressions are so profound that a biological or psycho-chemical change takes place, by which his mind ends by resembling the environment itself.” Providing our children with an age appropriate, enriched environment is part of the gift we can give them in support of their Montessori education.
Give our children space to explore their passions: These little ones are learning to find enthusiasm and joy in different tasks. They are given freedom to explore topics of interest. When we hear their voice and honor their passions, we support their love of learning. A child who has developed an interest in plants desires nothing more than a parent who will listen and actively encourage their passion by providing them books, field trips, and conversations about plants. A person truly masters a skill or subject when they can teach another person about it. I urge you to give your children space to teach and share their passions with you.
Accept their contributions: Our children are being taught to be contributing members of a community. How can you allow your child this opportunity at home? Their ability to contribute is usually beyond what we might think they are capable. When we maintain our space as a family community we then have the opportunity to explore, play, and learn as a community. My experience has been that to be an effective Montessori Parent, I have no choice but to understand and fully embrace that I have three little individuals on my hands. Their ability to truly and effectively contribute to society is one that makes me feel honored and privileged.
I don’t advocate for having a house full of Montessori materials. Our little ones spend many hours in a day working on academics. They are most served at home when we allow them to participate in practical tasks and explore their surroundings. When I invite you to bring Montessori home I certainly don’t want anyone getting the impression that I think our children should be home working on math. I am saying that we can indulge their love of learning by hearing what they are interested in. We can support their development of imagination by reading wonderful, adventurous books with them. We can support their love of nature by hiking and camping and exploring with them. We can teach them the beauty of the earth by walking slowly with them. We can nurture their ability to build meaningful relationships by seeing them and hearing them and touching them. We can teach them to be confident by looking them in the eye while they speak to us. We can teach them to resolve conflicts peacefully by modeling peaceful conflict resolution.