The Montessori method is a common practice in schools today, mainly the places that focus on early childhood education. There are also entire schools based around this method Maria Montessori created in 1897. Maria has revolutionized the way we foster learning in children with her research and educational practices.
The basic idea of the Montessori method is children take charge of their learning. The adult provides the material, the child makes the decision on where and when to spend their time. Everything is eye level with the child, making it easy access. Wood is the preferred material for toys, not plastic, being aesthetically pleasing, as well as durable and practical. It’s a method that can be adopted in homes, daycares, preschools, elementary schools, even up to high schools.
“Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. In Montessori classrooms children make creative choices in their learning, while the classroom and the highly trained teacher offer age-appropriate activities to guide the process. Children work in groups and individually to discover and explore knowledge of the world and to develop their maximum potential.” Montessori Northwest
I had the intention to use the Montessori method in our home when my daughter was born, putting toys on a shelf at her eye level and practicing other Montessori ways. However, soon I began to feel inadequate about my implementing based on research I was doing and others I was comparing to, especially with my limited funds. Here’s how I brought the Montessori ways into my house without breaking the bank.
We found a kid-sized card table we bought second hand.
Toys were organized on a cube shelf, all at my daughter’s level.
I was more mindful of the toys we bought for her, trying to stick with materials that promote imaginative play and learning, not limited, one-time-use toys.
We incorporated more play into our day.
I let her prepare and be more involved in her meals.
She took the reigns on her own learning, I stopped pushing her to learn letters and numbers and instead accepted that she would pick it up by herself eventually. She did.
The Montessori method doesn’t have to be complicated or perfect. Certain aspects did not fit into our daily lives, but others worked great. Placing her dishes at her level to claim responsibility worked wonders, but setting up a functioning child-sized kitchen set for dishwashing and food prep wasn’t practical for us. I stopped comparing my small acts to those who had more resources. My main takeaway, in the end, was that just because I couldn’t orchestrate a perfect Montessori household for my two-year-old doesn’t mean that my efforts went to waste. This can be the case in any classroom.
Move art supplies to kid-level.
Give students access to imaginative play materials.
Allow younger kids to use messy things such as markers and paints. They won’t understand the responsibility of playing with messy items until you give them the opportunity to.
Place learning and classroom functions in the hands of the students.
Be an advocate for responsible, independent kids, who will turn into responsible, independent adults.
How do you implement Montessori ways into your classroom? How can this elicit deeper learning in other areas?