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Bringing Montessori Home


By Paula Usita Brotherton, AMI Primary (3-6 year-olds) Diploma


Editor's Note: This article was written for the first edition of the MCS parent e-newsletter. We are honored to have guest contributor Paula Brotherton share her expertise with other Montessori parents. Paula's son is a student at MCS, and Paula is a Montessori-trained teacher at the primary (3-6 year-old) level. She holds a PhD in Family and Child Development from Virginia Tech. Paula taught and did research at universities on the mainland for over 15 years.


Background


Dr. Maria Montessori’s observations of children led to amazing insights about child development. Montessori found that young children, from birth to six years of age, possessed an absorbent mind (like a sponge absorbing water) that effortlessly took in all information from their environment using all of their senses (seeing, hearing, touch, smell, and taste). Along with an absorbent mind, Montessori discovered that 3-6 year old children had a developmental window for orderliness, learning language, using senses, and refining movement.


This led her to create unique materials and environments that nurtured children’s growth. These materials were practically oriented, proportioned to children’s size, made of natural materials, aided indirectly or directly in language and writing development, simple in design to emphasize attributes of interest, offered self-correction, and were placed on low shelves for easy access. Montessori observed children freely choosing to work with the materials, repeating exercises, valuing their independence, and concentrating.


Montessori education produces self-directed learners and provides a strong foundation for learning for life. Psychological and educational research supports Montessori’s approach to children’s education. ​


What can we do to support our Montessori children? What can we do to bring Montessori home? We can consider Montessori’s discoveries about children’s natural tendencies and the importance of offering an environment that helps them to fulfill their vital needs. Our approach at home may encompass two components: (1) preparing our home and (2) preparing ourselves.



Prepare Our Home


Accessibility. Most of our homes are not designed for children. We can make our child feel more comfortable at home by offering stepping stools to reach the bathroom and kitchen counters and sinks, or a Learning Tower for helping cook in the kitchen. Hanging towels on a low hook on the wall makes it easier for a child to dry their hands. Preparing a lower drawer or cabinet in the kitchen for storing your child’s dishes. A low table and chair gives a child an easy place to work or have a snack. For a great example of increasing accessibility within the home, see the video, Edison’s Day.


Order. Young children desire orderliness in their environment. Use baskets and trays to hold all items that are needed to complete a job (e.g., cleaning a table, watering an indoor plant). Ensure each item has its own place on the tray, and encourage your child to return the items to their proper place. Keep the tray on a low shelf and see that your child returns the tray to its designated shelf spot. Children learn about organization and sequence of steps from repeating activities in sequence from start to finish. Toddlers will benefit from being present when objects are being permanently moved in the home. Keep order by offering a few items rather than an overabundance of stuff.