Montessori is one of today’s parenting buzzwords. Everywhere you look, there are toys and baby essentials labeled as “Montessori.” But what is Montessori truly? It is an early childhood teaching/learning philosophy, and you don’t need trendy toys or expensive materials to implement its core beliefs in your home.
The Montessori method of teaching was invented by Maria Montessori. Born in Italy in 1870, she was an ambitious and intelligent woman. From a young age she loved learning, and she was educated with boys her age (practically unheard of at that time!). She ended up becoming one of Italy’s first female physicians. Her studies as a doctor led her to the field of psychiatry, where her interest in how children learn began.
When Maria Montessori began working at a training center for special education teachers, her goal was to scientifically approach education. She believed that through observation, she would be able to better understand young children and how best they learn. You can read more specifics about how the Montessori method came to be at the American Montessori Society website.
The result of her scientific method applied to children is what we know today as the Montessori method! The main premise of Montessori education is that learning should be child-led. Maria Montessori believed that children have a natural desire for learning, and when adults know how to nurture that natural desire, children thrive. A true Montessori school is a wonderful learning environment for children, but might not be 100% sustainable at home. However, there are many Montessori aspects that are easily implemented at home to foster your child’s learning and growth!
Children can be self-sufficient
Montessori believed that children are highly capable of achieving tasks that often adults do for them. For example, a toddler can pour their own juice and a preschooler can tie their own shoes. When we give our children the chance to take their care and learning into their own hands, they might surprise you with what they’re capable of! Of course, they need the time and opportunity to practice tasks and things might not always go perfectly. In Montessori classrooms, a mess is expected and viewed as simply part of a child’s growth.
Helping your child achieve more and more self-sufficiency is a process, and also a personal choice. It’s okay if some of the tasks that I list are better suited for the adults in the home to do! Everyone is different, but here are some ideas for age appropriate Montessori aligned tasks for children aged 1-3.
One year olds:
One year olds are teetering on the edge of babyhood and starting to transform into toddlers! You can embrace their growing desire for independence in many ways that will be fun and safe for your little one.
• Allow your toddler to choose between two season-appropriate outfits.
• Provide a safe tool for chopping soft foods such as banana. My daughter loves this crinkle cutter for chopping!
• Hand your child a wet cloth after meals to allow them to wipe their own hands and face.
Two year olds:
Having a two year old is so much fun! Officially a toddler, they are capable of starting to really be a helper. And they’re incredibly motivated to do so!
• Since they’re now an expert on wiping themselves clean after a meal, you might try allowing them to clean their eating area! Two year olds can clean the table with a soapy rag if you hand them one.
• Twos can start really helping around the house! You can allow your two year old to use a watering can to water any plants. Hand them the pet food scoop and help them put the necessary scoops in your pet’s bowl! Of course any feeding of pets should happen safely, so wait to let the dog in until the food is safely in the bowl and the toddler can watch from a distance.
• This is a great age to start having your child help pick up their toys! Montessori schools require children to put away any toys in use before taking out more. You can teach your child to start putting things back where they belong throughout the day. Start small with just a couple of toys on a small shelf!
Three year olds:
Three year olds are magical! Montessori concepts will help empower your three year old as a growing member of your family. Three year olds love to be part of the action, so why not allow them to take on roles in the home?
• Three year olds now have much more coordination that will allow them to start sweeping things up using a dustpan. You can get a miniature broom that will be easier for them to use (we have this one and love it!) or simply use a hand room!
• Montessori emphasizes the importance of bringing children into the kitchen to help prepare family meals. At three, your child can help pour ingredients with your help! They can also mix using a whisk or even a hand mixer.
• Three year olds can start putting on their own shoes and zipping/buttoning clothes. This can take quite a bit of practice but it’s worth getting them started!
These are all ways to include your child in everyday tasks that will allow them to build essential life skills! Maria Montessori truly believed in the capability of children to achieve so much when adults give them the chance to practice. Do you use any Montessori principles in your home now, or do you plan to start? Let us know!