The Montessori method has become more and more popular in recent years, but what is it? And how can parents create a Montessori-inspired home? To answer these questions, we interviewed learning expert Stacy Keane.
Keane trained in the Montessori method. She has a master’s degree in education and 14 years of Montessori classroom teaching. Keane is now the head of learning at Monti Kids, a one-stop destination for Montessori products, toys, and curriculum. She enjoys teaching others how to integrate Montessori activities and principles into modern day-to-day life.
Basics of Montessori
“Following a child’s lead is at the heart of Montessori,” says Keane. Creating a home guided by Montessori principles can be as simple as paying attention to your child’s interests: observation is key.
The Montessori method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian educator with a medical degree who created an educational philosophy based on the child’s creative individuality. She had a deep respect for children as people with an innate desire to learn.
Basics of Montessori
- A ‘sensitive period’ is a unique moment in your child’s life (0-6 years) to learn and develop an interest or skill.
- As a parent, your job is to support your child during sensitive periods by providing the stimulation needed for developmental growth.
- Less is more: the Montessori house has been carefully curated in a development-oriented manner.
- Attention is paid to independence, responsibility and concentration. You teach the child how to do things, give him or her confidence in daily tasks and make your work as a parent a lot easier.
The modern Montessori movement teaches these principles while also incorporating the current science of child development.
Fundamental Montessori Philosophies
Learning through play
Keane believes that the Turn right Toys can have a major impact on your child’s development. “Creating a Montessori-inspired environment at home can start at birth with a range of cell phones designed for a baby’s visual development,” she says.
By paying attention to where your child is in their development, you can support learning by providing strategic stimulation. Montessori toys are purposeful, thoughtfully designed to teach specific skills.
We often minimize a child’s ability to complete a task, but children are determined learners if you give them the tools they need to achieve success. This is a core principle of the Montessori method. From dressing themselves to helping in the kitchen, giving young children age-appropriate responsibilities teaches them vital life skills.
Most small children have a natural desire to help with daily tasks in the home and kitchen. Allowing your children to participate in meal preparation and home care will empower them and you. Independent children who can handle the developmentally responsible responsibilities are a joy in the house. Helping in this way builds character and gives children the opportunity to contribute, something they are usually eager to do.
Less is more
Keane recommends a space where children “can access their toys independently. A key to creating a Montessori environment at home is watching your child see what toys they are busy with and alternating every one to two weeks, removing and replacing the materials that are not of interest. .
Too many toys can overexcite your child, making it difficult for them focus or play creative.
Essential Products for the Montessori House from Monti Kids
$65 month/$195 per tier (including free shipping)
Take the guesswork out of which toys are best for your baby or toddler with the Monti Kids program. Delivered every three months, this subscription will send you expertly selected toys that support your child through every stage of development.
The very first level is designed for 0-3 months, with a range of mobile phones that help develop eyesight. It includes an attractive wooden activity gym that grows with your baby and a variety of dangling toys to teach hand-eye coordination and strengthen motor skills.
This is the first of the 12 levels, 3-year program. Every delivery meets a new stage of development that your child goes through, with toys that teach different skills including concentration, self-feeding, creativity, matching, sorting and much more.
This program also gives you access to personal coaching, expert guidance and the entire Monti Kids community.
The toy shelf is used throughout Montessori classrooms and homes and is a staple for your child’s playroom or bedroom. It is an open concept, with toys neatly stored together. It contains two low shelves that are easy to reach for children and even babies.
It’s the perfect place to store (and beautifully display) the quality toys offered through the Monti Kids program.
$100 (recommended for 18 months and older)
One of the essential skills a child must learn is to take care of themselves. Keane suggests a self-care station. “A low mirror with hooks in the bathroom or bedroom can provide your child with a space for self-care as they get ready for the day,” she says. “Kids will grow in confidence as they achieve these ‘I did it myself’ moments in their everyday lives.”
This self-grooming station is made of birch wood with an acrylic mirror and a shelf for accessories, such as a comb and toothbrush. You can mount it where it is most convenient for your child. It can also be the designated place where they hang their coat, umbrella or backpack. Not only do you provide a place for self-care and storage, you teach them an important daily routine.
Keane doesn’t use the phrase « potty training. » In the Montessori home, it’s called « toilet learning, » which removes some of the negative connotations associated with this often difficult process. Learning how to use the toilet shouldn’t be stressful – for the child or the parent.
This product “emphasizes intrinsic motivation and child empowerment,” Keane says. « The power struggle and shame are removed from what should be a natural process. » The toilet learning kit comes with a kid’s toilet, faucet extender, routine cards and a board book.
$100 (recommended for 18 months and older)
If they can sit independently and use their hands, they are ready for the kitchen shift. “A great way to introduce your littlest chef to kitchen-related tasks can be as simple as giving him a bowl of water (only as much as you want to clear up), a potato, and a vegetable scrub brush,” says Keane. « Your kid will love scrubbing the potato. »
This cooking set has all the kitchen essentials your little helper needs, including a cutting board, stainless steel mixing bowls, water pitcher and kitchen tools for pureeing, spreading and slicing. It also comes with 10 kid-friendly recipe cards.
Give kids their own lower kitchen cabinet to store their stuff, including their own plates and cups to set the table themselves. Keane also suggests investing in a learning tower so that they can prepare together with their parents.
More products for the Montessori house
While we appreciate toys made of different materials, Montessori preferences are made from wood and other natural materials for their weight and durability. We also have to admit, they just look nice! Open-ended toys like this building block set provide hours of imaginative play. The unpainted design allows a triangular block to represent anything from a cozy cottage roof to the side of a fiery volcano.
Montessori schools teach children the alphabet by combining sounds with sensory experiences. This wooden sign comes with indented upper and lower case letters that the little ones can trace over with their hands or the included stick. Whether they are tracing the letters or filling them with clay, it will help them work on their hand-eye coordination and basic motor skills.
Calendars are a great addition to the playroom as it teaches kids about the passage of time. Having a practical planning tool can help make the abstract idea more tangible.
This wooden learning clock is like a mini diary for your toddler. It keeps track of the date, time, season and weather. Your child can use the sliders to highlight the date and rotate the hands to set the time. The colorful illustrations help to show the differences between the seasons.
Your child’s development involves a lot of research, but many sights and experiences are too tall for their small stature. This step gives them the freedom to join in and see what’s happening in the kitchen. The stool has the same shape as a lifeguard tower and comes with safety rails to prevent your curious child from tumbling over the edge. If your child can see what you’re doing in the kitchen, it’s a great way to introduce them to cooking and encourage them to help.
Like the step stool, these wooden cutting blocks are a great way to involve your child in the cooking process. The child-resistant cutter is not sharp enough to cut the skin, but is capable of cutting soft fruits and vegetables. It comes with a handle so that little hands can get a good grip. This will help young chefs prepare their own snacks and become independent.
Believe it or not, many young children enjoy cleaning. This cleaning kit gives little ones fantasy tasks so they can use their imaginations, have fun and get a sense of accomplishment when they’re done. Sweeping and mopping are calming repetitive tasks, sure to help calm your little ones if they are overstimulated.