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August 31, 2022

Montessori Siblings: Balancing One-on-One Time

With five kids it can definitely be hard to balance everyone and their individual needs. It can be easy for any one child to get lost in the mix and not really get the one-on-one attention that children need and deserve. One of the reasons I am grateful for Montessori, specifically Montessori parenting, that Montessori is designed for multi-age environments. It is foundational to the method for multiple ages to be together learning and working along side each other. 

However, in order for this environment to really work for children, intentional observation and preparation is necessary. And for me this includes being really intentional with the amount of one to one time I get with all my kids. Not only do I want to have that time because I love my kids and they are all really cool. But, it's actually really important for me to have that time to know how to best prepare myself and our environment to meet their needs. 

Balancing Multiple Kids in Our Montessori Home

So, to the best of my ability we try to make sure we are getting 1:1 time with each of the kids every single day. Are we perfect? No, far from it. Especially this summer when my second plane children want to roam free with friends, it's hard to find time to get them to come be with their mom or dad. But, we are intentional about it - making sure it happens at least mostly frequently. Here are a few tips to learn to balance one-on-one time with multiple kids:

  • Skip Perfection and Equal: Don't fall down the path of thinking that 1:1 time has to be split perfectly even between all the kids. That is a recipe for serious guilt and will make it harder for you to enjoy the time you do get. Everyone's needs and availability is different, go with it. Make time for one-on-one connection even if it can't be perfect.
  • Schedule and Write it Down: Don't be afraid to literally schedule time if you need to. In our house, often if something isn't on the schedule it won't get done. 
  • Take advantage of Practical Work: One-on-one time doesn't have to be this giant ordeal. Invite one child into a specific practical life task. Maybe it's unloading the dishwasher together, maybe it's folding laundry. Make these regular moments a time to connect together.

    {Gus on a Love Cup day with Morgan}

  • Remember their developmental stages and interest: What one child needs is not the same as another. One to one time for a baby might look like a nice slow diaper change or singing a song together. For an older kid it might look like building a LEGO together or chatting while on a walk.
  • Stagger reading and bedtime: It's super important to connect before bed in order to have a more successful night's sleep. Staggering bedtime by a few minutes for each child gives Morgan and I an opportunity to be with each child individually. While group reading time before bed is really great, sometimes I just stagger that reading time so that each child and I get an opportunity to read together.
  • Love Cup Days: A couple of times a year for each kid (starting around age 3) we do a "love cup" day where typically Morgan (sometimes me) will take one child out on more of an adventure and fun day to fill their "love cup." On this day, the activity is crafted to each child. It can be things like going to lunch and to a nature center, going to a baseball game, seeing a movie, or to a museum. We let the children lead as much as possible and give them time to really explore their interests on their own. 
{Silly faces with Gus in a quick one-to-one moment as we waited in the car}

Balancing everyone's needs is always going to be big work for a prepared adult in a Montessori environment. Instead of making it a chore, just try to relish in it as really some of the most important work that you can be doing with and for your child. It's these moments that inform so much about how our children are doing and how we can best prepare our home to meet their needs. 

How do you balance one-to-one time with each of your children? 

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Anonymous said…
How do you make time to prepare yourself/activities/etc especially with multiple children who are developmentally very young? 1:1 time is lovely and important, but it sometimes feels impossible when my own cup is empty. I’m curious how you do this!