If you have been following along for a while, you will know that I am rather fond of this time of year. So I have made you an advent calendar with a difference. A 25-day countdown with some of my favourite tips to bring Montessori into your home.
I love creating connection with children. But in times of conflict I try to remove myself a little emotionally. I support the child by reflecting back and asking what is going on for them. This way I don’t feel attacked, I have some emotional distance, and it can still be difficult to see the child is sad, but then I’m much more available to give the support they need.
Today let’s explore my favourite thing about the Montessori approach. Even if you took away all of the Montessori materials and just stood by one principle, this one would get you a long way.
At the core of Montessori is the idea that the child wants to learn about the world around them. But most of all they don’t just want to be told about it (sitting in a classroom being told by a teacher; their parents telling them why the sky is blue etc).
Instead, I love to guide the child to find the answers to their questions by making discoveries themselves. We can guide them, but let them be the explorers they were born to be.
I have a treat for you today! Andy Lulka is one of the people I most admire in the Montessori community – wise, supportive and has answers to any Montessori question. I wrote to her to ask if she would like to contribute to our Advent calendar by sharing the one thing all parents should know.
I love Andy’s advice here about how we show up in the world. It’s one thing to say something to your child; and another to show them by doing, by what we say in our daily lives, by our interactions with others (and ourselves), and by our values. Thank you Andy!
See the beauty everywhere. Yes, take delight in slowing down with your child as much as possible (I give you permission to rush once a week, so use it wisely) and you will see all the amazing beauty around us. A feather on the ground, a smile from someone in the store and a shoot of grass coming up through the cracks in the pavement. Have you spotted something beautiful today?
To give your child the greatest chance of success, look for ways they can manage for themselves. They love it. “Me do it!”
Here are some quick ideas:
* the smallest Duralex glasses are perfect for drinking
* a small dustpan + brush for little hands to help with sweeping up
* cloth hand mitts are great for wiping spills
* look for sugar cube sized tongs for them to serve themselves fruit at meal times
* hang hooks down low so they can hang their own coat
* cut down tables and chairs to a height where the child can have their feet flat on the floor
* make two choices of clothing accessible at the child’s height
Break things down into teachable parts. Have you ever wondered how Montessori teachers explain things? I was recently teaching a card game to some friends. Rather than explaining the rules up front, I asked them all to copy how I’d laid out my cards, step by step. They thought I was so strange but they all picked up the set up and rules very quickly!
The same applies for showing your child how to get dressed, set the table, or learn a skill. Break it down into bite-sized steps, slow down your movements, and use less words. So. Easy.
I’m so honoured to have Bobby George from The Baan Dek Montessori help us with our advent calendar today. If you don’t know Baan Dek you are going to want to jump over to check them out. Bobby and his team are the masters of child-led learning, creating beautiful environments for the children, and a passion for always learning and improving.
I love his advice – positivity is definitely something we can all keep working on. Especially as our children will observe and pick up this example from us. Happy Day 7 everyone!