Create Montessori Environment at home
What is Montessori education?
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952), an Italian physician, who was dedicated to the study of children believed that every child has a part to play in the transformation of the universe. She realized that each child’s development is unique, and the foundation of personality is set during the early childhood years. A child who enters the strange new world strives to perfect themselves in a world created by adults. The montessori materials available in the environment are explored in a sensorial way by the child and they absorb everything around them. Confidence and self-assurance in a child are built by providing independence and putting the right number of challenges around them. Education systems focussing on this philosophy are followed today in schools and are accredited by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI).
Montessori classes are child-centric and exhibit a mixed-age environment that mirrors real-life society. Young children learn by observing the older kids and the older kids consolidate their learning by helping the younger kids. Academic objectives are achieved through sensory play and performing a lot of hands-on activities that are predominantly sensorial. Even higher-level concepts in science and geography are introduced to the child through age-appropriate activities. The Montessori classroom gives children the freedom to choose their activities and work at their own pace leading to in-depth mastery of concepts of language, mathematics, geometry, geography, science, art and music. After an introduction to an activity, the child is given the freedom to explore the material with less interruption from the teacher. The materials and activities are self-correcting, thereby helping the child work independently. A typical image of a Montessori school is shown below.
The second picture shows a kid exploring his language skills using movable alphabets and the third picture shows a kid exploring his practical life skills by using a juicer. Learning can happen either way in a Montessori classroom. Montessori respects the difference in children’s learning abilities and supports their individual development.
How can you prepare your home space for Montessori play?
Montessori at home is easy to implement for which you do not need Montessori training. It can be implemented for young children by providing freedom to choose what they want to do and for how long. They can be given the freedom to choose what they wear, the freedom to choose what and when to snack, freedom to express themselves as long their work is not disruptive or damaging. Montessori is all about freedom within limits. Create a space within your house where the materials to be used for activities are accessible to the child. Get rid of the chaos and arrange the materials on a low-height shelf for the kids to explore. Set up a snack table that is easily accessible to the child. Bring life inside the house by placing plants inside the child’s work area. Let the child water the plant and take care of it. Have a mirror hung at the eye level of the child, so that they can groom themselves. Provide them with a step stool wherever needed. Set up a book corner, where the books are stored on low height bookshelf. Place a child-sized sofa for the kid to sit and read independently. Observe your child from the background to see what their interests are and how you can help them explore and learn new concepts for themselves. Here is the typical layout of the child’s work area set up for Montessori home-schooling.
The strategies that can be followed to make the Montessori at home a success:
- Reduce the number of toys and materials in the work area – lesser the number of materials on the shelf, lesser is the distraction and more concentrated is the work cycle
- Rotate toys – keep the rest of the toys and materials other than that on the shelf away from the sight of the kid and rotate the materials once a week.
- Include sensory play time in their work cycle
- Be the “Prepared Adult’ – prepare yourselves before presenting an activity to your child.
- Set a routine and adhere to it
- Avoid micromanaging every movement of your kid. Never interrupt a concentrated child unless their actions are disruptive or damaging.
- Show them how to do it, rather than instruct them.
- Always remember, “Follow the child” – introduce activities based on the child’s interest and developmental needs.