Five Montessori Offerings That Have Gone Mainstream
Montessori is more intuitive than you think. Take a look at these five Montessori-aligned offerings
Montessori Education is admired as a path “for any and every child” due to its individualized approach. Yet, when the Montessori Method reaches parents in the home, many cite exclusivity – as if it’s not approachable or practical.
This sense of exclusivity is rooted in misperceptions about Montessori. Truthfully, incorporating Montessori at home is for every parent in the same way that a Montessori Education is for every child; it’s a personalized journey for you as the adult learner, too!
In fact, you may already be implementing Montessori in ways you hadn’t credited because of those misperceptions – one of the most common being that Montessori can only be practiced when certain materials are purchased, which is false.
Here are five Montessori offerings that have gained mainstream popularity:
1. Child-sized furniture
Child-size furniture for the home is everywhere now, so you might not pause to think about this as an anchor point of Montessori, but it is! When Maria Montessori ran her first Children’s House 150 years ago, she cultivated a particular classroom setup known as the Prepared Environment. One of the key aspects of this Prepared Environment was to utilize child-sized furniture, thus, lowering the children’s space to their own level. Accessibility leads to confidence, and confidence leads to greater independence.
Inviting your child’s participation at home with the help of a step stool, small table and chair set, or lowered floor bed in the bedroom might feel like a minor change – but it is significant from the child’s perspective, who begins to internalize that they are capable.
“The children are now working as if I did not exist.” – Maria Montessori
2. Hands-on learning
This is a widely used term, but the concept of hands-on learning is of particular emphasis in Montessori. Take tactile letters, for example. Maria Montessori developed sandpaper letters in order to give young children a concrete understanding of written language. The rough texture of the sandpaper letter provides sensory input when traced. As children trace, they say the letter’s phonetic sound. Instead of memorizing the alphabet with letter names – abstract information – they’re internalizing how letters sound in the formation of words, which is much more concrete.
Maria Montessori paid particular attention to the development of the hand because it is directly correlated to development of the brain. She found a child’s ability to learn through movement was key to deeper learning, especially with respect to use of the hands.
By emphasizing activities and experiences at home that inspire hands-on exploration, you’re supporting this!
“What the hand does, the mind remembers.” – Maria Montessori
3. Help around the house
This might sound like a mundane offering, but it’s not to your child. Having your child help around the house is a huge part of Montessori, known as Practical Life. Setting the table, feeding a pet, watering the house plants, hanging up our jackets – these are life skills that young children intrinsically want to do for the sake of understanding how things work. If you have ever felt like you weren’t practicing Montessori because you didn’t prepare “shelf work,” know that honoring your child’s desire to do real-world work is about as “Montessori” as it gets – so long as these activities stem from the child’s own lead and not yours.
“We do not teach the children these things to make little servants of them, but because we have observed that of their own accord, children actually take the greatest interest in perfecting all the movements of daily life.” – Maria Montessori
4. Free time
Sometimes the notion of letting our children “just be” is seen as a break from learning, but in Montessori, this is a valued part of learning. In a Children’s House classroom, the space is meticulously structured to activate self-directed exploration, but the day itself is not packed with scheduled activities. Instead, the guide will facilitate a three-hour work period where the children freely choose their own work. During this time, the guide strikes a balance between offering support, connecting children to work, but also stepping away and letting the children focus without constant adult interruption.
At home, a child’s space should be structured in a way that’s also inviting and orderly – with plenty of uninterrupted time for children to direct their play. Once they are connected to their space at home, the Montessori thing to do is step away – not supervise!
“The child who has never learned to work by himself, to set goals for his own acts, or to be the master of his own force of will is recognizable in the adult who lets others guide his will and feels a constant need for approval of others.” – Maria Montessori
5. Limits and boundaries
The need to identify and set limits is something all parents encounter, but Maria Montessori in particular had a brilliant take on this with her pillar of “freedom within limits. Children are trusted with freedom, but not left to their own devices. They are given support and boundaries alongside their developing sense of will. If you’ve ever thought Montessori was too “free range” or too “strict,” you likely only saw one side of it. Montessori is a harmonious balance, where both work together in an approachable middle ground.
“To give a child liberty is not to abandon him to himself.” – Maria Montessori
Making your child’s space accessible, prioritizing hands-on experience, including them in everyday tasks, letting them direct their own play, and striking a balance of freedoms and limits – all cornerstones of Montessori – whether you were drawn to the Montessori Method or not!
Jenna is a trained journalist and writer whose parenting journey transformed after implementing Montessori at home with her three children. She is a passionate advocate for bridging Montessori to the mainstream as a means to build community, empower parent-child relationships, and honor learning as the lifelong journey that it is.
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