Montessori style education gets quite a lot of attention on social media and the internet nowadays, but what is it, and what benefits does it actually give to your child’s development?
To keep it simple, the Montessori concept is about letting your child develop with a love for learning by providing an environment that lets them naturally respond to their tendencies to create, socialise, play, develop and build confidence as a person. Montessori style classrooms are usually set up in a way so each child can explore the things they are interested in, compared to traditional schooling when everyone learns the same thing. This approach offers young minds the ability to explore and develop their interpersonal skills alongside their traditional “education” ones.
So how can you bring this style of education into your play at home? It’s quite simple actually! By providing the right toys, games and equipment for your child, you can offer them the freedom to explore, build, make and learn in their own unique way. Here’s some simple ways you can bring Montessori concepts into your child’s day to day activities.
Toys for Imagination
Providing your young ones with toys that spark creativity, imagination and problem solving are one of the most important ways you can introduce self-directed learning to them. Aim to find things like blocks, counting tools, simple puzzles and toys that encourage sensory exploration. Wooden toys are usually the best for this, as they are simple, timeless and also great for the environment compared to their plastic alternatives.
Let them play with older and younger kids
The recommended age range for Montessori is a three year window, it provides a way for younger children to learn from the older ones, for kids to socialise in different ways and to respond to children at different maturity levels. Another fantastic perk for this is that it allows the child to learn in a non-competitive environment, and it better replicates our society as well.
Appropriate furniture for the space
For children to learn optimally, they need a space that’s size appropriate for them. Imagine yourself walking into a workplace that has badly placed furniture that’s uncomfortable and too small or large for your body. It would make you less productive, right? The same thing happens with children too. By giving them size appropriate furniture, and storing their toys in easy to reach places, you’ll encourage them to utilise their environment more, and to direct themselves to the activities they want to learn more about.
Order and Structure
Particularly with older children, maintaining a system of where everything is stored is a very important part to Montessori style spaces. It teaches organisation skills, and replicates real world learning and work spaces. When your child knows where everything belongs, they will find it easier to decide what to play/learn with, and it’s also a great way to encourage them to keep things tidy and clean.
Take play outside
With so many young children using technology these days, it’s important to give them time to explore the great outdoors. Getting their hands dirty, exploring nature and learning about the world gives them a head start in life. It’s also a great opportunity to learn about science and about the importance of looking after our planet. Using things you find in the garden like leaves, sticks, stones and plants also inspires creativity and imagination. There’s plenty of great ideas online for outdoor activities you can do with your children too!
In general, the keys to using Montessori style education in your everyday children’s play is about giving them the opportunity to explore in their own way. If you provide the right environment for them, they will be more inclined to get creative and start their own activities, projects and to explore their passions and interests from an early age.