I first heard about the Montessori Method over two years ago when I was trying to find out more about it for Aristotle. We’ve come a long way since then and everything I have seen and heard about the Montessori Method confirms all the benefits of the program. The results have been so positive that I have been swayed towards selecting a Montessori playschool for Hercules to attend until he is ready for Aristotle’s school. However, since Hercules is still a month shy of his second birthday and it is not my intention to send him anywhere until he is at least 3 years old, I figured it would be a good idea to start some Montessori activities at home first.
There are several other benefits of adding Montessori elements to our home program:
- The vertical grouping encouraged by Maria Montessori means that both Aristotle and Hercules can work together on the same curriculum. And since older children are encouraged to help the younger children, Aristotle will have the opportunity to take on the role of teacher – which he loves.
- The child-directed learning suits Aristotle’s disposition to a tea since he has never been an easy child to direct.
- The practical life component will help Hercules gain independence more quickly which will help to reduce the sibling rivalry for attention on Aristotle’s part (Hercules currently receives a lot of assistance in many daily tasks which has prompted Aristotle to regress in an effort to gain attention for himself).
Our main problem with implementing a Montessori program at present is our space constraints. As it was, I did a compromised version of the Montessori setup years ago for Gavin. Now with two of them, our space constraint is worst than ever. Implementing the “busy boxes” has helped a little, but I think we will have to wait until we’re in our new place before we can create a true Montessori experience for the boys where things are set up on low shelves so they have complete autonomy over the choice of activities to occupy themselves with.
In “How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way“, Tim Seldin talked about the importance of having beautiful, quality, wooden toys over the cheap, tacky, plastic ones that are available in abundance today. The idea behind this is to encourage your child to value his toys and to take better care of them. Since this can be quite costly, it helps if you can make your own Montessori materials to supplement. “Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years” by Elizabeth G. Hainstock is a great book filled with lots of simple Montessori activities that you can make yourself.
For a more complete immersion into the Montessori program, there is Worldwide Montessori Online (thanks MieVee for putting me onto this) which is an affordable, online, Montessori teacher training program. Of course, it is also open to parents who want to learn more about the Montessori Method so they can teach their children. You can choose to do it as a standard course over 2 years or fast-track your learning and complete the course in 1 year. By the end of the course, you will be armed with all the information and resources required to create all the necessary Montessori materials to teach your children from 2-6 years old. The next intake will begin the program in December 2011.
In the meantime, there are a lot of Montessori activities you can do from the Practical Life component using regular household items:
- Opening and closing drawers
- Pouring rice (this is the first step to learning how to pour liquids – eventually, your child should be able to pour his own milk and juice) – pour rice from a pitcher into a cup.
- Household chores: dusting, washing the dishes, setting a table, folding a napkin, washing a table, sweeping the floor, polishing shoes, carrying a chair, etc.
- Personal stuff – washing hands, brushing teeth, lacing shoes, tying a bow, buttoning and unbuttoning, opening screw-top jars, etc.
- Art and craft activities – cutting, painting, sewing, etc.
Montessori Practice Life is about teaching children how to do things for themselves so many regular daily activities can be taught.
I have also been working on creating a Montessori busy box using simple materials. More about this in the next post.