Maria Montessori was an Italian Doctor born in 1870 who dedicated her life to the study of the education of children.
The school of thoughts that she developed (and that takes her name, the Montessori method) puts the child at the centre of the learning environment and lets him explore his environment in a positive way. (more info)
Being a mum of 2 beautiful boys (6 y.o. and 19 months old) and a mumpreneur, I find that the Montessori approach gives me and my children the best of both worlds… I can get on with my bits and pieces whilst the kids get on with their playing and learn from doing it.
My approach is pretty relaxed, I let my children explore their house entirely… the only places that are off limits are cupboards with cleaning products and plugs sockets, which I have covered with plug protectors. Everything else is free for them to explore…
“Isn’t it dangerous?” I hear you saying…
Well, I believe that if something is dangerous like a hot oven, a hot cup of tea etc… if the child himself realises it, he would be discouraged in the future to experience it again. For example, when I have a hot cup of tea or coffee on the coffee table, where my toddler can reach it, I don’t discourage him from touching it. If he shows interest in it (by pointing at it for example) I say: “Hot”, then, if he decides to touch it, he will realise that it is indeed hot and next time, if I say that something is “Hot” he will remember the sensation and will be discouraged from experience it again…
Obviously if he tries to actually put his finger inside boiling water, I would stop him, but I believe that it is better that the realisation of danger comes from them rather than it being imposed by an adult.
Here are some of the Montessori inspired activities we do at home:
Indoor and outdoor playing activities:
Both of the children play with water in the garden (when the weather is nice, lately has been lovely) with toys in I, plastic empty bottles (squirty ones, normal ones) etc…
Both water the plants and flowers
They both enjoy playing with shaving foam in a container in the garden with toys in it.
They enjoy writing with chalk on the pavement in the garden
The older one tidies up his room and toys in the living room.
We made homemade playdough (flour, salt, water, veg. oil, food colouring, essences -optional-)
We dance in the living room like crazy to very loud music!!!
They both raw rainbows to stick on the windows (even more relevant in this Covid-19 isolation period)
In the kitchen/home:
The little one is allowed to peel his own banana
The big one helps me cutting vegetables when cooking dinner (we cooked a lovely Ratatouille the other day….)
They are both allowed to sweep the floor
They are both allowed to dust the surfaces with a damp cloth (no chemicals or products, just water)
The older one spreads his own butter and jam on his toast
They both help setting the table before meals
The little one loves to play with pots and pans from the cupboard and plastic tubs. He plays with the tinned food in the cupboard too. He loves to stack them one on top of the other.
The big one pours his own water
They both help to empty the washing machine, load the tumble dryer and empty the tumble dryer (the majority of clothes goes on the floor pretty often… but I am cool with that…)
They are both encouraged to blow their noses, wash their hands, brush their teeth and brush their hair
The big one chooses his outfit every day
The little one is encouraged to put his own shoes on – the big one knows how to do it.
Mums, remember…! The focus is not for them to do the job so you don’t have to do it… the focus is for them to practice independence and gaining satisfaction from completing a task.
Look at it as an investment… they are learning the skills now so one day it will be beneficial for them (and for you!). Let them help you with things!
By taking responsibility for their own actions, the child will learn that he is needed in the family and that his effort is appreciated. This will encourage self esteem and self-development. He will also improve his language skills and concentration.
My children are free to explore their surroundings freely, but my beady eye is always on them… they are safe to learn but “under supervision”… at the end of the day… they are still children!
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