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4 Ways to Integrate Montessori at Home

by Alison Breithaupt
Friday, February 26, 2021

Encouraging order, independence, and self-motivation is fundamental to the Montessori approach. At school, carefully designed classrooms allow students to develop competence in caring for themselves and their surroundings. Here are four ways you can support your child’s Montessori education at home:

  1. Everything in its place: Having a place for everything means that children know where to find what they need, and have a place to put things away when they are finished. An ordered environment also has fewer distractions, allowing children to focus on the task at hand. For example, limiting toy choices and providing shelves at your child’s level allows them to see all of their options. Sorting smaller items such as puzzles, art supplies, and blocks by category into trays or baskets makes them accessible. Limiting the amount of items on the shelves allows you to swap out toys to continue to pique the child's interest in "new" choices. 

  2. Child-sized and accessible: Bedrooms for children of all ages should be free of clutter with clearly designated areas for rest, self-care, and dressing. To nurture independence and self-esteem, furniture can be child-sized and accessible. For example, a closet with low-hanging clothes and limited choices for the day will enable your child to make his own clothing choices and put away clothes independently. This sets the stage for maintaining tidiness and organization later on. In the bathroom, place a stool next to the sink and the toilet so your child can access them without assistance. Walk your child through a good hygiene routine and give them the space to do it on their own. 

  3. Real objects: Welcoming children into the kitchen is one of the easiest ways to support your child’s growing independence. Groceries can be placed on low, easy-to-reach shelves, so your child can make choices and be responsible for replacing items in their correct places. A stool or learning tower placed near the countertop will invite help with washing dishes or food preparation. If there’s enough space in your kitchen, consider a table and chairs that are child-sized, so that your young one can make their own decision as to when and what to eat or do since they have a place they can sit down and eat their food or do their activities. Allow your child to use “real” objects for mealtime and food preparation. For example, using a child-sized pitcher and small drinking glass prompts your child to pour water when they are thirsty, teaches them to exercise care using real dishes, and supports their growing autonomy in taking care of their needs independently. 

  4. Inner motivation: Children are most willing to apply themselves when they feel there is intrinsic value to their work. Unlike external rewards such as an allowance, gold stars, and merit based privileges, Montessori is based on the belief that pride and pleasure in one’s own work has a more lasting and meaningful effect. From a Montessori perspective, even praise is given sparingly – saved to acknowledge a child’s effort and encourage dedication and commitment to accomplishing a task, rather than the outcome of their work. By expressing encouragement and appreciation for your children’s efforts at home, you – like their guide at school – will help nurture an inner motivation that will serve them for life. Next time your child asks for praise, try saying "I see you used so many colors in that painting." Or "how does it feel to accomplish such a big work?"