As a Montessori preschool owner, I am asked from time to time how someone can incorporate the Montessori philosophy at home. One of the main tenets of the Montessori curriculum is independence. Independence goes hand in hand with responsibility as well. Win win! Yet you can’t have an independent child if everything is set up out of their reach or adult sized. Read on to see what small things you can do to bring independence and pride into your child’s life.
Start with the Basics
When our babies are, well, babies, the second they start to move, we child proof EVERYthing, right? It’s likely that things are still set up that way even though you don’t need to worry about keeping items out of each. Look around your child’s room, bathroom, living areas and kitchen. What can you lower so they can reach it?
Bedroom: We moved our son’s clothes from the top to the bottom dresser drawer, so that he could choose and put on his own clothes (which is also a PERFECT moment to take a memorable photo to embarrass them with as a teenager!).
Bathroom: Put a faucet extender on the faucets in your home. I made sure there was a step stool in front of his sink and toilet. I bought him a child sized toothbrush and toothpaste tube. Easy!
Living Room/Kitchen: Can your child turn on the TV when they wake up on weekends? No? As a former sleep deprived parent, I encourage you to fix that problem. Then there is furniture they can get up on and move (bean bags are GREAT), snacks in the kitchen pantry they can get and eat on their own, like fresh fruit (obviously you have to be careful with this one…feel free to put a child proof door knob cover on your pantry door if you need to), water they can access independently, and a chair they can sit in that allows them to eat dinner with you at adult levels. I’ve seen microwaves only two feet off the ground to enable independence in some pre-planned kitchens. Put plastic plates, bowls, cups and child sized utensils in a bottom cabinet. Do what feels right that also doesn’t break the bank.
Okay, so your house is set up for ease of movement and independence. Now what? Here are some other fun ideas!
More Ideas Inside the Home: Part of Montessori is taking care of your environment, so think of ways your child can help your family do that. You can buy a small watering pitcher and some indoor plants and ask your child to water them once a week (I recommend doing this activity with an adult watching or your plants may float away). Buy a child sized broom and dustpan set so they can clean up inevitable messes. What else does your family do regularly? How can your child be involved with that? Does one of your older children play soccer? Your child could be responsible for grabbing their sibling’s soccer cleats as you leave for practice, which means creating a designated place for them on the ground. Think of age appropriate, simple things that allows them to help.
Your Backyard: Most play areas are WAY too high or big for a young child. If you take a look at our playgrounds at Sunrise Montessori, you’ll notice nothing is very high and there are lots of moveable things for creative play and exploration. You can do the same in your backyard! Set up a lego table or easel with chalk. Buy balls with a container they can put them back into when done using them. Set up a nature table to take care of plants. The sky’s the limit! Look online for other ideas. There are a TON of examples on Pinterest.
My husband, Rob, is known around Sunrise Montessori as Mr. Fix It. He comes from a family of men who know how to build and fix things. John wanted to be like his daddy, which is why we bought him a tool belt with plastic, child sized tools for him to use while Rob worked on a project for Christmas when he was almost 4 years old. Your children crave independence, responsibility and being a true help in their family. By designing a home that incorporates Montessori with some simple changes, you will accomplish all three.
Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at Sunrise-Montessori.com or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!