When it comes to implementing Montessori principles in the home, most parents are intrigued by the idea, but they aren't sure where to start. But, it starts with a change in mindset. As a parent, you have to start by understanding that children — even the littlest ones — are capable of more than you realize. Once you acknowledge this, then you can make some changes around your home to set yourself and your child up for Montessori success.
1. Organize Your Environment "A place for everything and everything in its place" is one of the critical principles of Montessori at home. When you designate a place for everything, your child will quickly learn where everything goes. This is an essential tool in teaching them to be responsible for their belongings and clean up messes they may make. To effectively order your environment, the most significant change you'll want to make is to make things more accessible for your child.
To do this, we recommend that parents:
Store clothing in low drawers or baskets, as well as move the rod in the closet down to eye-level so your child can reach their clothing
Place step stools in both the kitchen and bathroom to enable them to wash their hands and, in the case of the kitchen, help with meal preparation
Place toys, games and art supplies on low shelves where your child can easily access them, then separate these toys into various baskets and bins so the items stay separate and are easy to find without sifting through piles of other toys
Store healthy snacks down low in your refrigerator or pantry so your child can help themselves
Keep beverages in small pitchers located on the lower shelf in the fridge, with child-friendly cups nearby. When your child is thirsty, allow them to help themselves — just be sure to keep a sponge nearby so they can clean up any messes they make, too.
In the Montessori approach, parents are also encouraged to rotate their children's toys and books every few weeks. The goal of this is to keep their curiosity fresh and prevent boredom. This may seem overwhelming to some parents, but the best way to do it is to rotate the items on your shelves based on the seasons and your child's current interests. Do they get excited about dinosaurs? Then include a basket of dinosaurs, as well as a few age-appropriate books on the shelves. Whatever topics interest your children, the key is to encourage exploration and creativity.
2. Emphasize Life Skills Even young children are capable of pitching in around the house. 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. This will mean that, as a parent, you may have to stop and take the time to teach your child how to properly wipe the table after a meal or which cabinet to place their cups in, but their minds are so absorbent that it won't be long before they can do it independently.
Remember to match their tasks with their age and abilities. For example, 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. You can also have them teach the younger children in your home, as well.
3. Teach Concentration A lot of adults don't think young children can concentrate, and it's true that children cannot focus on something for the same timespan as adults. But, under the Montessori method of thought, this is a skill you can start cultivating in your child when they are young. 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.
4. Focus on Inner Motivation, Not Rewards
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.