I was introduced to the Montessori method of teaching last year when my kids (now ages 4 and 5) attended a wonderful, small Montessori school for a few hours a day. I had the honor of working as their school photographer, where I got a first-hand look at not only how things were structured, but also how the kids were respected and inspired to be and think independently. This year, Im looking forward to incorporating Montessori Homeschool methods for Preschool and Kindergarten in our home using some of the things I’ve learned below. I hope you find this helpful in navigating this unprecedented 2020-2021 school year.
“The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn.”Maria Montessori
MONTESSORI BOOKS I RECOMMEND
The Montessori Toddler helped me better understand ways to incorporate the Montessori method at home, both in regards to how to physically set up our space as well as how to discipline, communicate, and guide in a way that will encourage respect, kindness, independence and happiness in their young lives.
MONTESSORI BASIC PRINCIPLES
Focus on Experiential Learning & Life Skills
By teaching them to take care of themselves and the space around them at a young age, you will set your child up to be a considerate, capable adult later on. Take the time to teach your child how to properly clear and clean the table after a meal. Matching their tasks with their age and abilities, how they help around the home will continuously evolve. Younger children are perfectly capable of learning to water plants, feed pets, wipe the table after a meal and pick up their toys. Older children can incorporate more complex tasks into their routine, like taking out the trash, meal preparation and basic home maintenance. Older siblings can help model and assist in teaching younger siblings as well, facilitating the mixed age learning environment of a Montessori school.
Child Directed Work: Students are given agency to self-select work, leading to intrinsic motivation and sustained attention.
Uninterrupted work periods: An extended period of “free choice” enables students to work at their own pace and without interruption.
- Concentration- You can do this by identifying what they are interested in and setting them up with the materials and space they need to explore it more thoroughly.
- Rotate books and toys every few weeks. The goal of this is to keep their curiosity fresh and prevent boredom.
Limited Extrinsic Motivation: The Montessori method isn’t big on giving children extrinsic rewards for behavior, such as stickers or candy. Verbal praise is valued, although it’s important to make sure it is given in moderation. The key is that you should teach your children to enjoy and seek the feelings of pleasure and pride that come with learning something new or completing a task.
SETTING UP YOUR HOME,
Organize your space: “A place for everything and everything in its place” is one of the critical principles of Montessori at home
I began by emptying the shelves at their level to add lessons that were at their height in baskets and trays. Since they are familiar with this set up from last year at Belle Menti Montessori, they picked up very quickly. I purchased these great wooden trays that helped make organizing a breeze, while keeping the aesthetic consistent and minimal. Double win!
I also rolled up 2 cotton work-rugs for them to utilize when they’re working on lessons. You could also use a towel or blanket, but having something for them to comfortably lay and distribute their materials is an important part of their process.
- Realistic Animal Figurines that include Cards for Matching
- Animal Information Flashcards : I ordered these separately and placed the animals in their respective bins based on their environment. We love these cards specifically because of how easy it is to read the facts. The kids are enjoying learning about the type of animal and the size the most!
MUSIC AND ART
Teaching our children how to care for themselves and their environments is a fundamental practice in a Montessori environment, and one that will help give the child a sense of being and belonging. Generally the activities of practical life revolve around four areas: Caring for the Self, Caring for the Environment, Grace & Courtesy, and Movement of Objects.
One are of the home where practical life skills can be practiced best, is in the kitchen. Incorporating your child’s help with preparing the food and table will help them in more areas than one.
Some of our favorite practice life exercises include:
- Grooming and Dressing: Setting daily routines for hygiene and allowing your kids to dress themselves is an important step in their independence. Make sure their clothing is accessible so they can dress themselves with little to no assistance. As they get older, they can help fold and put away laundry (can’t wait for that day, personally!).
- Cooking in the kitchen!
- Cutting Fruits and Veggies with a Wooden Kids Knife : there’s few things my kids enjoy more than helping me in the kitchen. This is a great tool to safely get them started as your sous chef
I think it’s safe to say that this is most children’s favorite part of the classroom! It’s so important for their young, developing minds that they see, touch, and smell unique objects.
- Sensory Bins with Wooden Tools
- You can use items you have around the house like dried rice. Some of our favorites are sand, kinetic sand, and slime.
- Aromatherapy Dough : All Food Safe, Kid-Safe ingredients, this non-toxic play-dough makes the perfect addition to your arts and crafts sensory table for kids of all ages!
- Water Beads are also really fun and versatile for sensory play!
Embrace the flexibility that homeschooling allows. Woke up late this morning? Who care’s…keep it moving, mama! There’s no shame in your sleep-in game.
Once our day has started, which may vary slightly from day-to-day, we follow a timeline that we created together and have up on the kitchen wall, available to reference at any point in our day.
I was first introduced to this concept in this Khan Academy Video.
- Create a daily plan that has a general flow so you all know what to expect. This is key to success in our home! Rather than create specific (rigid) schedule for each part of the day, allow some flexibility and openness by creating an order of events that fits your lifestyle. That way, you can make minor changes to the events themselves, but the overall order is predictable and structured.
- Morning: Get Dressed & Eat Breakfast. Set morning routines as they work for you and your family.
- Outdoor Play/Gardening/Sensory
- Shower (usually needed after midday play)
- Down-time, sometimes includes games on tablet or laptop, or lessons if they choose since they are always out for them to pick up when they want
- Brush Teeth/Bedtime Routine
In addition to our Montessori Homeschool for Preschool and Kindergarten, I’ve also published the story below on additional homeschooling resources that we will use this year!