What Is Montessori Parenting (How To Be A Montessori Parent)
You may have heard of Montessori parenting, and advocates claim that it is child focused and natural way of child-rearing. If you have the privilege and challenge of being a parent, you’ll be concerned with raising your kids in the best way possible so, what exactly is Montessori parenting?
What is it?
The Montessori style is relaxed, child focused and gentle. Children are allowed to learn new things primarily through play, and they have freedom to experiment and discover the wonders of the world.
The Montessori view is that education should be positive and not dictatorial, and children should be encouraged and supported in order to develop their full potential.
It’s the opposite of a ‘one size fits all’ approach and involves observing a child’s specific attributes and skills and enhancing them by planning education that suits their personal learning style and needs.
Children are not punished under the Montessori ethos, and are encouraged to learn from mistakes and take responsibility.
The Montessori way is that children learn to choose the correct way of behaving because it is right, not because they are fearful of punishment.
Parents and teachers work collaboratively and there is consistency between home and school. Children are made to feel important members of the family and home, and respected at all times.
If this ethos resonates with you, and you feel your child would benefit from this approach, how can you incorporate it in your everyday life?
How To Be A Montessori Parent
Supporting your child through positive reinforcement should be at the forefront of every parent’s mind. But the Montessori approach takes it much further. What can you do?
- Use real objects
It’s useful to remember that Montessori parenting is a way of life and not something you switch on and off. Be determined to use the approach throughout the day and try not to deviate as this will cause children to get confused. Learn about it and commit, and if done properly you’re guaranteed a happy and successful child.
It’s well known that children learn from adults, and they copy. Ensure you are a good example of appropriate behavior, so your children can follow your lead. Modelling is a valuable learning tool, and parents and teachers alike should be utilizing this opportunity.
Freedom to learn is a crucial part of the Montessori way, and it’s crucial that parents allow children to explore in a safe environment. This helps them take responsibility for their own learning without force or coercion.
Although relaxed, the Montessori style still requires you to teach children and provide necessary boundaries.
Teaching takes on more of a facilitating role and parents should provide opportunities for learning whilst allowing children to discover for themselves and make their own decisions.
Helping children use adult objects is another way that the Montessori style differs from traditional parenting. There is a wealth of ‘child-friendly’ available.
Objects such as plastic beakers, plates and cutlery however, should be discouraged and children allowed access to adult utensils to help them learn how to handle things early on.
It’s important to observe your child to help you decide how best to support their learning. Cultivate their need for independence. It may seem to take longer, but forcing children to learn before they are ready can be counterproductive. Patience is vital!
Talking openly with children is important to build trust and will help them understand that they will be heard when they have a problem. This will set them up for future life, as most professional and personal relationships are dependent on good communication.
Talking to children with respect and showing them courtesy is always a great modelling tool and will encourage them to talk politely to you and others.
How To Adjust Your Home
There are several ways to adjust your home to facilitate your child’s learning journey. What are they?
Observe what toys your child enjoys playing with and make sure they are easily accessible. You could build shelves that are reachable, so your child can access them without your help.
Enabling independence is crucial for the Montessori parent. Try and get down to your child’s level and observe your home from their perspective.
It will give you a good idea of what your home looks like to them and enable you to inform any adjustments you need to make.
Get your child involved in everyday tasks such as washing/cleaning etc. Leave dirty clothes in a low basket and ask your child to do the washing after showing them the right buttons to press etc. This will help build practical skills.
Keep snacks and lunchtime food in an area that your child can reach, and encourage them to make their own lunch. Try not to get overly concerned about mess.
Mess is inevitable when children are learning, so allow it and know that a little mess is unimportant compared with teaching your child life skills.
Helping children do things such as pouring drinks, running baths, folding washing and taking care of toys will help give them a sense of responsibility and independence, and they will gain practical life skills to help them become fully functioning adults.
You should always make sure that your home has plenty of creative resources. Children are naturally creative, and it’s important we give them things to fuel their imagination.
Make sure your cupboards are well stocked with essential ingredients to allow for baking and other creative activities in the kitchen.
Have baskets of leaves and other natural materials, so they can make pictures or constructions. As tempting as it is, try not to interfere too much as you really want them to learn problem-solving skills, which is a great foundation for the future.
Montessori parenting isn’t for everyone. However, the child focused style has been proven to have many positive benefits for children and can enable them to grow into well-rounded out adults, confident, independent and free thinking. And that has to be worth the extra time and effort.