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March 18, 2020

Sensitive Period for Order, Isolation, and Covid-19

There's a general feeling of different in my house right now. Because of other time off, Henry hasn't had school in over a week. Nora's been out of school for the last couple days. We haven't really left the house other than to walk in our neighborhood. It's really different for us. Yesterday we had to go to Henry's school and get materials to prepare for long term closure and distance learning. The situation is still unfolding and we don't really know how long Nora or Henry will be off of school. I'm sure many of you are facing similar situations.

All of this has been the long way of saying our normal order of things is super disrupted. And we all know how important order is for young children. During this time of uncertainty we cannot forget about the sensitive period for order. So many of us are trying to create a new rhythm and routine for our lives. Maybe you are suddenly working from home, or maybe your kids are out of school, or maybe older siblings are home, maybe all of the above. 

Montessori parenting advice to deal with new changes in routine and order. Here are some tips to help make a transition home easier for everyone during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This new routine cannot and will not be an overnight success. The process of getting used to a new routine and settling into it is called Normalization in Montessori. Typically, we say that normalization takes 6 weeks for a classroom setting. Now, our homes are not classrooms and our children are already very used to that environment. So, hopefully it won't take weeks and weeks to get used to this new normal. But, it will take some time.

If you are feeling frustrated right now that your child is extra clingy, not interested in playing alone, not taking to your efforts to homeschool, or exhibiting other frustrating behaviors - know that it is normal. Know that it won't be like this forever. 

So, what can you do to help calm your child's sense of order? Here are some ideas: 

  • Go slowly - don't try to expect your child to jump into homeschooling or working completely independently right now. Make the day as fun, and light, get used to your new routine. 
  • Stick to a new routine - try to make the days as predictable as possible. This way your new order becomes very clear to your child. Here's our routine. 
  • Talk and acknowledge - even really little children will benefit from talking about all these feelings and acknowledging the change. "This is really different and that feels scary." The older a child is the more they can also fill in their feelings and talk about the loss they are feeling over school. 
  • Start with Practical life - Practical life is the key to so much concentration in Montessori classrooms and homes. Allow your child to participate in practical life and feel useful around the home. This will lend itself to concentration, repetition, and eventually calm. 
  • Get out some old materials - Don't try to change all your work to get your kids super interested in working alone or playing for hours. I know we are all feeling a lot of pressure to make sure our kids don't fall behind, but new and challenging work can wait. Sometimes seeing something they have mastered, something familiar, helps restore that sense of order. It's grounding, almost mindless, and captivating. Find something they loved a few months ago or a year ago, and take it out. Let them explore without expectation. Let them find calm in the familiar. 
  • Create Expectations - for older children sit down and talk about what is going on. Talk about the new routine, talk about the expectations you have for yourself and for them. Create some written rules to keep in mind as we are all living and being together so much of the day. 
  • Keep it the same - as much as you can KEEP IT THE SAME! This might not be the time for potty learning, or switching to a new room, or ditching the crib, or your nighttime routine. Wait a few weeks until things are more normal and try then. 
  • Give Grace - finally, give grace to yourself! Give grace to your child. Take some deep breaths, let go of some expectations, remember that this won't last forever. Embrace this time. 

Remember this sense of order today and for know that it will get better soon.

Montessori parenting advice to deal with new changes in routine and order. Here are some tips to help make a transition home easier for everyone during the Covid-19 pandemic.


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