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July 02, 2018

5 Things I Do Everyday as a Montessori Parent

In a lot of ways being a Montessori parent is completely the same as a parent that has no interest in Montessori at all. We all still love our children and want the best for them. But, there are some ways that being a Montessori parent is fundamentally different. Sometimes those differences can make you feel miles apart from other parents. As a Montessori parent, there are some things that have been incorporated into my daily routine that may or may not have been there before. These routines are fundamental to how I parent and how our home runs. 

5 things that I do everyday as a Montessori parent - routines and habits that support our Montessori home

Here are 5 things I do everyday as a Montessori parent:


Everyday, I take time to observe my children. Maria Montessori stressed the need to observe children and their needs constantly. But she was clear that this need to observe should not be reserved for teachers, but that parents need to have an observing spirit as well. In her book The Child in the Family she said, "the necessity to observe the child before hazarding an approach will finally penetrate the family too and create there not only a new child but a new mother and father." 

So I take time to intentionally watch my children, even if its just as I'm cooking, reading, or cleaning up. What are they doing? What are they drawn to? How do their hands move? What challenges them? What excites them? Are there hangups they are having? Are they independent in their task? So many little questions like this to take note of and respond to. 

Wipe Up Spills 

This one is pretty self explanatory! No one is perfect! Not here, not anywhere. And, I've found that being a Montessori parent means I help clean up a lot of spills. If you give children access to water, it's bound to happen. It's water cups that knock over, or paint cups, or mopping. And, they do their best, but spills are a daily part of my life! And, I've learned that it's OK! 

Take Deep Breaths 

Frustration happens to every parent, but taking some time to be the calm is essential to me as a Montessori parent (or really any parent). And for me, stopping myself from reacting is important to keeping that calm. And, I do that through a deep breath (or two or three). Using Montessori at home does not mean my children are perfect, that they do not test limits or make decisions that are difficult to deal with. So, deep breaths are totally on my daily list! 

A simple deep breath is often gives me enough time to observe before responding, to calm my initial reaction, and for me to respond in the way I want to. That's not to say it always works and I never lose my cool, but they are very helpful! 

Set Limits

Another thing I do everyday as a Montessori parent is set limits. Sometimes there is a sort of permissive in it's approach. People may think that to follow the child means to allow the child to make any decision that comes into that child's head at any given time. But, that's not really what Maria meant. We follow the child as his leader. We set limits, often in how we prepare the environment, to allow a child to act as independently as possible. 

As a Montessori parent, I set limits either through my words/actions or through how we create our space that give my children freedom but also keep everyone safe and happy. Those limits are tested and explored. 

Invite Participation 

Finally, I invite participation everyday. I invite my children to work with me. I ask them if they want to come and help with cooking, with gardening, or with cleaning. They are invited to help keep our house running smoothly. Sometimes, they join sometimes they don't. That's totally up to them. But, I'm here modeling for them, and making the work available. 

I also take care that our environment invites spontaneous participation. That our home is accessible to them to make these contributions. This includes making larger design decisions (like creating a small accessible shelf, or something) but also smaller daily details like making sure the water dispenser is full, or paper has been replaced, or cleaning towels are laundered.

5 things that I do everyday as a Montessori parent - routines and habits that support our Montessori home
Do you have anything you do daily to support Montessori in your home? 

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Catherine said…
Hi Nicole: Do you notice what the balance you've struck is between spending time observing your children versus playing with them? I struggle with knowing what this balance is.

Also, any tips on how to get a 12 month old involved in the kitchen more? He seems to always want to watch when I'm cooking/doing the dishes. But I have no idea where to begin involving him in these tasks. Thank you.
Danyelle said…
Catherine, our 13 month old started "helping" early on by exploring the cabinets and learning names for things. We invite with language like: would you like to hand me the whisk? Currently, help looks like stirring (mostly with assistance), transferring things from cutting board to bowl or other container, watching us + and guided help with a wavy cutter for soft things like eggs, fruit, steamed veggies, cooked sweet potato etc. and cleaning up. Clean up is a favorite because it almost always involves water - scrubbing dishes in the sink, sweeping with a small hand broom and pan, wiping the counter and floor... it takes longer and is messy but we have interest and involvement, which is enjoyed by all!
Catherine said…
That was very helpful! Thank you!
Danyelle said…
Quite welcome :)