How to help your Montessori child at home.
Children who spend their time in Montessori schools learn to think of the world as an exciting place full of possibilities. They begin to know themselves as powerful people who can do all sorts of things for themselves. They think of adults as helpful friends who are always there if needed, but who never try to overly interfere or control their activities. This is because Montessori teachers really respect young children as individuals and treat them as dynamic natural learners.
Your Montessori child will come home buzzing with ideas about what has gone on in the day or what is likely to go on tomorrow! From cookery projects, to learning about the life-cycle of butterflies, to the joy of discovering the skills of counting and writing.
It is really helpful, therefore, if parents can provide home environments that support this burgeoning confidence and creative curiosity. Your child needs you to slow down to his or her timetable, to spend time sharing the things that he is excited about or interested in. Depending on the projects they are studying many Montessori children become incredibly knowledgeable about such things as the different types of beetle, the shapes of leaves or the names of geometric shapes! It can be crushing if a mum and dad are too busy or tired to share in their childs new knowledge or excitement .
At school Montessori children can access all the things they need without the help of adults. They may want to draw, cut, stick, count, write, make books, build towers or read. At school they learn that everything can be found in its own place and that it helps others if things get put back again in the same place. So Montessori children tend to be pretty thoughtful about others and tidy.
If you can provide the same thing at home it will help your child to maintain the same level of consideration and independence. Special cupboards and shelves, all easily accessible, and beautiful materials and activities, all carefully laid out in boxes and trays, help the child feel that his or her work really matters. Many of the activities that are provided at school can easily be duplicated in the home. And if you ask your child's teachers they will let you know what things your child is particularly interested in at the time. One of the most important things we can do for children is to follow their interests - to really know what they are excited about and to provide as much support and further activities as possible for them to explore and understand.
We live in a world that is full of pressures and external expectations. The early years of life are recognised as the very foundation upon which everything else follows. Each child is full of natural curiosity and the desire to learn and needs only to be set free within the right environment. This way of learning is characterised by a concentration and passion that is rarely ever exhibited in adult life. Montessorians think that this is the most important quality that we can preserve in our children.
But all too often this precious natural resource is threatened by pressures from outside: pressures to learn all your numbers faster than anyone else, pressures to be able to write your name, to colour shapes in accurately, to draw things that look acceptable, to count to ten, to sit still and wait to be told what to do. And pressure on boys to do all the things that girls do, even though we know that boys and girls are very different in their learning processes.
Whereas pressure from the inside is a good thing and makes us want to explore the world and learn more, pressure from the outside can be very dangerous. It can interfere with all our natural processes and make us fearful rather than the wonderful risk-takers that we naturally are. It can tell us that we are only valued by our results and can make us see work as something that you only do if you have to, rather than something that excites us and makes us feel good. So we ask Montessori parents to really trust their children, to try to ignore such outside pressures, and to celebrate the very individual talents and abilities that their children possess and enjoy.
The love of a child is like no other. At no other time in their lives will our children be so dependent on us getting it right. By choosing a school environment that is full of happy, sensitive, loving teachers and by providing a home environment that re-affirms to the child that he or she is an important person in the world, we allow each child to grow in trust and confidence and to become someone who cares about self, others and the larger world in which we live.