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August 22, 2023

Pros and Cons to Keeping Montessori Materials at Home

The new school year is right around the corner and for many of us that means our children are returning to the classroom. This may be a Montessori classroom or it might be a more traditional school. Either way,  it means a lot of their academic learning is happening away from home. One question I get a lot is whether or not to also have Montessori materials at home for our children. The answer for me is...maybe.

Traditional Montessori math materials including sandpaper numbers, and introduction to golden beads sits on the top of a shelf next to a plant

Should you keep Montessori academic materials out during the school year?

There are both pros and cons to keeping Montessori materials available at home while your child attends school elsewhere. (I'm not talking about homeschooling here, but when your child is enrolled in a school.) Each time I consider adding a material to my home for my kids, I weigh the pros and cons to decide if the material is worth it in our home or not at this time. 

Small boy holds Montessori thousand cube next to playroom shelf in his Montessori home.

Keeping Montessori Materials Available: The Pros

There are a lot of positives to keeping these incredible learning materials available. This definitely isn't an exhaustive list, so when considering adding a material consider why you think it is so important.  The analysis will be different for every situation. But some positives include:

  • Learning happens all the time: kids are learning everywhere all the time, we never really know when the mood will strike and they will want some deep concentration. There's no reason to center learning at school above learning in other places. 
  • You get to see the magic: its really fun to share with your child and have them show you all the cool things they can do. That connection time is important. 
  • Kids have questions, materials provide answers: kids questions don't stop when the school day ends, and materials often help to provide concrete answers in unique ways 
  • May not be available at school: the school might not focus on some of these concepts and you have the opportunity to bring it home.
  • Practice Can Be Important: things like math facts, for example, sometimes need to be practiced at home, materials can make it fun and engaging
Three-year-old boy sits in his playroom at home counting Montessori golden bead thousand cube material

If these pros outweigh the cons, then go for it and put the material out. In my experience some of the materials I tend to continue to have available at home while my children attend Montessori schools are: moveable alphabet, box of math beads, stamp game, and continent globe. I've definitely had other materials out depending on the circumstances as well. It really does depend on the individual child and circumstance.

Keeping Montessori Materials Available: The Cons

If your child attends a Montessori school, it is a good idea to talk about the specific materials you want to put out with your child's guide. They might have their own pros and cons list. So, what are some of the negatives to keeping specific Montessori materials out at home? 

  • Confusing: if you present the work or set it up differently that can be really confusing - especially if you don't have a strong idea of how the material works. It can also be really confusing if your child is not learning the concept in the same way as the materials teach - this is common if the child is learning Montessori math at home, but math more traditionally in school, for example. 
  • Less interest overall: having the material in both places can sometimes kill the child's interest in using it. If something is always there, they might not feel an urgency or call to use it. 
  • Siblings: Others people are going to want to use the material, whether they are ready or not.
  • Misuse: the rules and expectations at home are just different than school, misuse can be the result. Kids might not be able to be as specific, gentle, or focused at home. Be ready for some exploration in their more comfortable environment. 
  • Pushing academics ahead of other learning: there is so much more to life than just learning academics, by placing academic material out at home, we have to be careful that we are not limiting time for other learning that happens through free play, practical life, and connection with adults. That learning is no less important and is often best done at home. 

A Montessori playroom shelf with learning activities and traditional Montessori academic toys

At the end of the day, whether or not to include academic Montessori materials on your shelves at home will need to depend on your observations. Your child may really benefit from these incredible learning tools, or they may do better with Montessori friendly toys that support learning in a particular subject. As we move into this school year, weigh these pros and cons, and take time to observe as you consider the materials on your shelves! 

How do you decide if you need a traditional Montessori material at home if your child is attending school?

Why You Shouldn't Always Have Montessori Materials at Home


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