Articles from 2024

April 10, 2024

Montessori Parenting: Family Meetings

Montessori Parenting: Family Meetings
With five kids sometimes it can feel like moving mountains to get everyone in the same place at the same time. And it can feel especially hard to feel like we are all on the same page in understanding the plan. And overtime one of our most valuable things we have incorporated into our regular Montessori parenting is having a family meeting. These meetings are our opportunity to go over the things that will happen in a given day, week, or situation. Sometimes these are a way to increase cooperation between ourselves and the children , or explore a problem that has been happening in our family.  Now, I don't think the concept of family meetings is exclusive to Montessori. While Montessori herself never talked about, family meetings are similar to class meetings, and meetings between students/guides (second plane and older) that are staples in Montessori programs. They are definitely worth a try if you feel like you could use more cooperation from all the members of your family.  Tips
March 26, 2024

Montessori in the Kitchen - We love Nylon Knives

Montessori in the Kitchen - We love Nylon Knives
I feel like in Montessori circles there is a lot of love for kids using knives. Child safe knives open up a world of independence for toddlers and preschoolers. And, we introduce knives around here around my babies' first birthdays. But, I think a lot of love falls to the wavy chopper knife , which is honestly a great choice for young toddlers.  But, wavy choppers are far more limited than my favorite child-safe knife - a nylon knife. The wavy chopper is limited to a chopping (up and down motion). It's great for small children since both their hands can be up and out of the way of the blade. But, only so many different things need to be chopped, often that motion can crush more delicate foods and simply not work at all for larger ones. Plus, they really don't teach the skills needed to work with most adult knives in the future.  Reasons to Love a Nylon Knife for Your Montessori Toddler What does teach the skills then? Enter the nylon knife , also called a lettuce knife! The
March 22, 2024

Montessori Toddler Skills at 23 and 24-Months

Montessori Toddler Skills at 23 and 24-Months
I just love new 2-year-olds. They are so full of energy, and sweetness. They are becoming themselves, and their interests, preferences, and dislikes become easier to spot. And they are just so cute and funny. Our Montessori days at 2-years-old are slow and steady. We try our best for long periods of time where we are just hanging out in our prepared environment. But, I wanted to share some more specifics about what we are actually doing on these days at home.  Quick reminder that every child is different and that the best way to prepare your environment is for the child that is actually with you. Use these ideas as inspiration, not an exact guide of what a 24-month-old should be doing.  Montessori Favorite Toys and Activities to Support Skills at 24-months Here are a few skills at this age and how we support them:  Fine Motor Penelope has been much more interested in using toys designed to work her hands. She's sitting for longer periods of time to work with her hands. Some thing
March 13, 2024

3 Things I Teach my Children from Birth as a Montessori Mom

3 Things I Teach my Children from Birth as a Montessori Mom
Sometimes there's a misconception on the internet that Montessori is all about teaching children - that our main focus is math, reading, or writing. And I think this comes from the unique approach that Montessori takes toward academic work. The materials are extremely unique, the timing and the pace can also be very different from mainstream school approaches. But, the reality is that as a Montessori parent my primary focus is not on teaching academics.  But, that doesn't mean I'm not teaching my children things from birth. While I'm feeling zero pressure to teach my babies and toddlers letters, numbers, and facts. As a Montessori parent, I'm hopefully teaching them far more important lessons. Montessori is a method that is deeply rooted in respect for the child, in love for the child, and a belief that the child holds within them the future. With these beliefs in mind, here are three things I'm teaching my children from birth as a Montessori parent.  Lesson 1 -
March 11, 2024

Montessori Friendly Easter Baskets 2024

Montessori Friendly Easter Baskets 2024
I love putting together a simple, sweet Easter basket for my kids each spring. While Easter is mainly a religious holiday in our Montessori home, we do celebrate with some simple gifts and treats each year. There is so much pressure now to create these giant baskets filled with so many things. Instead I try to pick a few quality choices that my kids will each love and something practical for the spring/summer.  Just a reminder that these are choices based on my own children's preferences and to follow your own children when making decisions.  One note about this list this year, I have decided that gift lists will not include my children once they reach the third plane of development (12+) so my oldest is not included.  Here's what will be in my kids' baskets this year. Easter Basket for Montessori Toddler  Penelope will be 25-months-old this year at Easter. She loves baby dolls, small objects, and being fancy so her Easter basket this year will include:  Sarah's Silks R
March 08, 2024

What Activities are IN today in our Montessori Home?

What Activities are IN today in our Montessori Home?
I live for all the different ways my children show up in this world. They are just so cool and doing so many interesting and amazing things. And, I bet your kids are too! I think that's one of my favorite shifts that I've made as a Montessori parent - seeing children as whole humans right from the start. These are not empty shells for us to fill, but flowers we get to watch open.  And no matter how many children I have, it is just so amazing the number of different things that peak their mind. They are all so vastly different and it is so challenging and intriguing trying to meet all their needs at once. And, in our family with our wide variety of kids, it feels like we really get to experience so many different things all at once. I thought I would just share a glimpse at what's in today for my kids and why I love it!  Montessori Kids at Home - What are they Using? I'll take this in age order from youngest to oldest. Just a reminder that I no longer share specifics abo
March 04, 2024

Montessori Elementary Play: Science Kits and Tools

Montessori Elementary Play: Science Kits and Tools
There are so many cool ways to explore our world as an kid. Free play and exploration are so important, and so is giving our children time to make discoveries on their own. But, as kids move into the elementary years, I've found it's really fun to make space and time for some more directed exploration. And, we are so fortunate to live in a time where science kits are common and handy.  
March 01, 2024

Using a Waldorf Playstand in our Montessori Home

Using a Waldorf Playstand in our Montessori Home
It's no secret that I love play silks in my Montessori home. I mean we really love them. They are used nearly every day around here for some sort of pretend play by all of my kids. Capes and forts, dress up and small world play - you name it, they have probably done it with a play silk. Even in our home, firmly rooted in Montessori, we have found that the Waldorf magic just creeps in and brings their play to the next level.  But, when Sarah's Silks approached me with the idea of trying a Waldorf Playstand , I hesitated a little bit. Would we really need such a large piece of furniture geared toward pretend play? Would it really see that much use? Ultimately, I decided to give it a try and gave it to Penelope for her second birthday.  Waldorf Playstands and Montessori Play And once we added the Waldorf playstand to our home, a magical thing happened. Play exploded. And, I'm not just talking about my toddler, but with each of my kids. Suddenly my kids are in Penelope's r
February 26, 2024

Make an Easter Basket for Your Montessori Baby

Make an Easter Basket for Your Montessori Baby
Celebrating holidays with your baby can be so fun and exciting. I've really enjoyed creating traditions around holidays and seeing the festivities through the eyes of my new babies. As a Montessori family, we want to include even our littlest members in the celebrations with some simple gifts when appropriate. For Easter, this includes a small basket of gifts, just like my older kids get. 
February 22, 2024

Montessori Parenting in the Second Plane: Responding to Questions

Montessori Parenting in the Second Plane: Responding to Questions
The mind opens up in the most incredible ways during the elementary years. Suddenly our small little people have all these big questions, thoughts, and abilities. Maria Montessori tells us that this period is so unique for the capacity that elementary children have for learning. They need new stimulation and crave abstract information. But in an age where every bit of information is at our fingertips, how do we give elementary aged kids the information they need without doing too much? Or should we just info dump on them at their given questions? 
February 12, 2024

Our Montessori Days at 2-years-old

Our Montessori Days at 2-years-old
It's hard for me to believe that my youngest little Montessori baby is already 2-years-old. The years fly by faster with each child and by the 5th, the years are barely a blink. But, even if I can't believe it, my Montessori baby is solidly a Montessori toddler now. Entering the 2-year-old year is just such an exciting time. Our days are predictable, her language is exploding, and we have a lot of fun together. 
February 01, 2024

Montessori Activity: Valentine's Stencil Painting

Montessori Activity: Valentine's Stencil Painting
Valentines Day is right around the corner and that means I'm adding a couple of things to our Montessori art shelves to celebrate. While adding seasonal work to your Montessori home can be super fun, it doesn't have to be super complicated. Since giving cards at Valentine's Day is super popular, I wanted to add something for Ted to be able to make some cards for friends or family. So I decided on some simple stencil painting work.  This simple work is perfect for preschoolers for encouraging fine motor skills, multiple steps and a little precision without being too difficult to clean up. Plus some great opportunities for social emotional learning as we make and give something simple and beautiful to others.  Make a Montessori Friendly Valentine with Stencil Painting Like I said these are super simple! A tiny bit of preparation on your part and your kids will be making tons of great cards in no time. To make these you'll need:  Tray : Use an easily cleanable tray that ca
January 31, 2024

Montessori Kids: Rule Making in the Elementary Years

Montessori Kids: Rule Making in the Elementary Years
The elementary years, or the second plane of development as we call them in Montessori, are marked with many unique characteristics. One of the major characteristics of the second plane of development is the immense interest in social relationships. These kids are so social. Their brains are wired to move around in little packs learning how to be in community with others. Their friendships become important, they start to explore social dynamics, and test out social rules. They also have a strong interest in justice, morals, and fairness. In fact, one of the first signs of the second plane in my family has been the phrase "that's not fair" popping up repeatedly!  Why do Elementary Kids Love Rules? The combination of these two characteristics create a super interesting phase for some second plane kids - an obsession with rules. I've seen in my kids this peak between age 5.5+ (when they start to transition to the second plane) and around 7.5-years-old. All of a sudden r
January 22, 2024

Montessori at Home: Pretend Play in the Preschool Years

Montessori at Home: Pretend Play in the Preschool Years
Pretend play can be such an interesting and complicated topic within Montessori. While Maria Montessori found that children prefer real work in favor of pretend toys, children in Montessori environments still engage in pretend play. In fact, pretend play has an important role to play in the social emotional development of all children.  Where Montessori often differs when it comes to pretend play in the preschool years is the role of fantasy based play. Fantasy is often avoided, or limited, until a child is older and has a firmer understanding of reality. While every family will take their own approach in this area, Montessori principles would suggest less fantasy and more exploration of real life. In our society things like talking animals, superheroes, fairies and mythical creatures are common in the preschool years, often making them difficult to avoid.  Don't miss part 1 of this series: Montessori at Home: Pretend Play in the Toddler Years Building with mirror blocks (and hol
January 17, 2024

Montessori At Home: Pretend Play with Toddlers

Montessori At Home: Pretend Play with Toddlers
We've been experiencing an explosion of pretend play in our home lately. With my two youngest (nearly 2 and 4) both in really unique stages they have both been drawn to pretend play in a way that I find so fascinating. Sometimes in Montessori environments, there is a pervasive myth that small children prefer only real work to pretend play. And while Montessori activities should certainly be based in reality for small children, pretend play is an important part of every child's work in these years.  Even in Montessori schools , you see a fair amount of pretend play. While materials have a specific aim, children often explore the boundaries of those material through their work. Montessori at home, however, is far more flexible than in a classroom. Children will want and need opportunities to pretend and process the world around them through their work.  Pretend Play in the Toddler Years I've observed some unique phases of pretend play in my own children over the years. The to
January 16, 2024

Shelf Help S4 Ep 8 - Finding Center After a Break

Shelf Help S4 Ep 8 - Finding Center After a Break
 This week on our Montessori parenting podcast:  The new year is here and for a lot of us that means a time of reset after a break from our regular routines. In this this week's episode, Nicole explores a couple of ways that she likes to reset her home and get back to Montessori roots following a time of disruption.  Show Notes... Reading Area Reel 5 Minute Observation Ideas    Thanks for joining me for today's podcast! If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share and leave a review in your favorite podcast app.  If you are interested in finding Shelf Help in a podcast app, it is available on  Apple  |  Spotify   |  Google  |  Amazon . *Shelf Help now includes  automated ad breaks. We do have control over the content of the ads and do not specifically endorse their messages/products. Thank you for your support of our show.