Disclaimer: I’m not a Montessori-trained teacher, I’m just a mama to a young tot who is interested in Montessori practices. I’m merely providing this information to inspire others, to share thoughts and to give a point of view and my opinions. Feel free to point out anything I’ve said which is wrong or not-quite-right or to question me!
What is this whole ‘observation’ thing?
All of Montessori’s theories and materials were based on observations of children. The whole notion of ‘following the child’ doesn’t really make sense if you do not first observe them.
Initially, I found the concept of observation (in the books I read) fairly vague. I wasn’t sure what to look for, what conclusions that I could draw from what I was seeing, or what changes I could make to his environment as a result.
However, ultimately, what it is about is that your child holds all the answers.
Some things to consider as you watch your child are:
– What toy/s is s/he favouring?
– What room does s/he prefer to be in?
– How is s/he moving from room to room and activity to activity?
– What is s/he having difficulty with?
– What skills does s/he seem to be attempting to master (look for repetition)?
– What is s/he most interested in?
– How is s/he behaving?
– What activities is s/he drawn to?
From these answers you can extend on your findings by asking yourself what it is that you can I include/remove (in their environment or daily life) to help develop his/her abilities, confidence and freedom based on his/her interests, preferences, behaviours, movement and difficulties.
Is Montessori all about making children work?
Children, particularly toddlers, are natural learners. They soak up the world around them (hence Maria Montessori’s term the ‘absorbant mind’) . They want to know ‘what is this?’, ‘what is that?’, ‘what are you doing?’, ‘what will happen if I do this?’, ‘why did that happen?’ and on and on and on. They want to repeat things and they want to feel safe in exploring the world.
My happy tot modelling his newly painted rocking chair
Montessori believed in following the child’s interest and that for them, work is play… and I wholely agree. Cameron isn’t forced to do anything. To me, parenting Cameron in a Montessori-inspired way is not about making him the smartest or independent quicker or anything of the sort.
I want Cameron to feel respected and valued. I want him to gain independence at his own pace (and through dependence on me at this stage). I hope for him to have a love of learning and for him to feel capable and confident. Which is what Montessori is about.
I believe that the best way for me to provide this is by setting up a beautiful and adaptive environment where he can move about freely and gain age-appropriate skills in practical activities as well as those of language, math, culture, nature, sensorial etc.
Why the floor bed?
So many of the things that parents use for their children (prams, cots, high chairs, play pens, etc) don’t really allow freedom of movement and choice for the infant/toddler/child.
The idea behind a floor bed is to allow the child to get in and out of bed when they want to. The rest of the room is child-proofed and they are able to play upon waking. The child doesn’t have to cry upon waking or be ‘allowed’ out to do what they want.
Why is everything on shelves and accessible? Isn’t that a bad idea?
The typical method of storage for toys are toy boxes. But can you imagine chucking all of your work into a box and not having order or beauty within your spaces?
I agree with Montessori in the idea that having toys/books/activities neatly displayed on shelves helps a child to develop a sense of respect for their environment while also showing them that you value their things.
I hope that gives you a little more to look into and think about. For those who are much more knowledgeable than me regarding Montessori, I would love to hear your thoughts on these common misconceptions of Montessori. I’m sure that someone could answer these types of questions better than me!