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3 Ways to Get Started with Montessori without Spending Any Money

Montessori has a reputation for being expensive and difficult to implement. I'm not going to say that those assumptions are not always true. Traditional Montessori materials, specifically, can be really expensive and difficult to learn to use. And, when you're coming from a traditional parenting or education background moving toward Montessori can feel particularly overwhelming. 

But, you don't need to do everything at once to get started with Montessori. You don't need traditional materials, you don't need to change every thing you own over night, you don't need to make big expensive changes. You can go slowly. You can make the changes that fit best into your family's cultural norms and what works for your particular child. Here are a few free ideas to get started with Montessori at home. 

Observe

Observation is at the heart of the Montessori method. Without observation we don't know which toys or materials to put into our homes. Without observation, we don't know why our children might be responding a certain way or what they need in a particular situation. Keep in mind: 
  • observe without expectation - this isn't the time to try and change behavior, but understand it
  • watch big movements and small ones 
  • observe how your child can access the environment - what do they need help with? what can they do independently? 
  • keep yourself as quiet and still as possible, recording your notes (or even sitting on your hands) can keep you from intervening
Read more about observation here: Observation and the Prepared Adult

Simplify 

Dr. Montessori discovered that children really flourish in an environment that is specially prepared for them. This environment should be simple and organized which helps a child see and use the materials available. Simplifying your environment is something you can do for free, the exact toys and things in the environment don't have to be special. You can use exactly what you have. But by simplifying, your child will be able to access a lot more easily and work (or play) more independently. Try this: 
  • Go through your house and remove toys that aren't used by your children. Maybe it's toys they have outgrown, have no interest in or have broken or missing pieces. You don't need to get rid of them, but make them so your children can access them.  
  • Go through the toys that are left and organize them so all the parts of that toy are together. Instead of throwing them into a toy box or bins, try dedicating a specific spot for them in your home. Maybe it's on the floor along a wall, or maybe a spot on a bookshelf or coffee table - use whatever you have. 
  • If it still seems like you have a lot of toys or things available to your child, try a toy rotation. Remove some that might not be current favorites or toys that do similar things and just keep one option accessible. Always make sure your choices are made based on your personal observations. 

Once you feel like your toys have been simplified, you can try doing something similar with other things your children access on a daily basis like clothes, cups/plates, art supplies, and more. The simpler you can make your environment, the easier it will be for your children to access. 

Read more about simplifying: A Montessori Approach to Purging Your Toys

Slow Down

So much of what is at the core of Montessori is moving through life at the pace of the child. We want to follow the child through their development, at whatever speed that might be. It often means, however, that we need to put our adult ideas, ambition, and pace aside to really follow the child in their interests and developmental path. Here are some ways to keep it slow: 
  • Resist the urge to move your child from one activity to the next. Allow for repetition of the same toy, game, book, or interest. Let them work (play) until they are satisfied with the activity to extend their powers of concentration. 
  • Offer lots of free time for your children to explore their environment and their interests. Avoid over-scheduling or too many adult-led activities. 
  • Get down on your child's level and speak slowly. Give them time to respond, time to ask questions and time to ponder. Avoid giving them every answer or too much information too early, allow them to make discoveries on their own and in their own way. 
Read more about slowing down: What does it mean to "follow the child?"


There are so many other free ways to incorporate Montessori into your parenting and into your life. In fact, I would argue that these things are even more important than anything you could buy to give to your child. Montessori, at its core, is about respect and following the child. Even without any other changes, a few simple shifts in how we see the child can make a huge difference. 

3 free ways to start using Montessori at home without spending any money. These easy ideas are ways to get started with Montessori with your kid today
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