In the past few months, I have seen several forum posts wondering about Montessori homeschooling for preschool. Well, I must admit that I did not homeschool my children for preschool. All three of my kids went to Montessori Primary. However, we have always and still do practice Montessori in our home. Of coures initially-I had no idea that we were a Montessori family. We just started our family this way and found that this method had a name. Also, in the summer time-I have always set up a Montessori area for the kids to do “work.”
So what makes our home Montessori?
From the time our kids were sitting, we started with very simple toys. They had mainly (of course, they did have a few of the toys with the bells and whistles) wooden blocks, simple toys and real items such as spoons to play with. The toys continued to be real objects and simple things. To this day, two of my kids favorite toys are a ladder that my dad made for them (he took an extension ladder and used half of it to make the kids a 6 foot ladder that is light enough for them to move) and a bike ramp. They also all love to play in the sand box, swing, and play anything outside.
In the kitchen….Once they could crawl, they had a drawer with their own dishes and basket with their own snacks. They all sat at the table with us instead of in a high chair. The kids went from a bottle to a cup. Yep, no sippy cup. Can you imagine? I did purchase them but I hated all the peices that went with them and thus, they only came out every once in a while. Now, the still have their own dishes that they can all reach. Sims now uses the grown up dishes more and more because he can reach them. The kids use real dishes and real glasses. I buy Ikea dishes so they hold up well but are not too expensive when they break. The kids still have their own snacks too. In the fridge-you know those big drawers in the bottome? They work great for the kids items. I keep yogurt, chees sticks, and kid friendly snacks int there. One of the best things we taught the kids was how to make breakfast. Sims has been making his own breakfast since he was 2 and from then on he has also helped the others make breakfast. All breakfast food is kid accessible. THe waffles are in the bottom of the freezer and the toaster is in a bottom cabinet. All of the cereal is in easy to pour tupperware. I forget how spoiled I am that I do not have to make my kids breakfast until I hear about other people’s mornings! I have time to enjoy the morning with my kids. We all sit together to eat breakfast-one of our favorite times.
In the playroom…along with simple toys, the kids have a place for each toy. If there is not a home for it then either something needs to traded out or given away. Keeping it simple it very important. Is this crazy hard? Sometimes. Luckily, our kids do not watch much TV (and most of it is on Netflix that they do watch) so they are not bombarded by commercials convincing them to buy more toys. We have something to build with (they moved from big wooden blocks and duplo blocks to small legos and city blocks), imaginary play (a simple wooden doll house, barn with animals, and a castle-these were trades out and now they have a big kid doll house and fire department), gross motor toys (a chair that spins, a ladder to climb, and a cacoon swing-yes, all in the playroom) and some other fun itmes-kitchen items and musical instruments. Art supplies are always available including paint, clay, playdo, colored pencils and crayons. We avoid markers for the most part. Crayons and colored pencils teach them about shading and different pressures.
In each child’s room….the kids went from a crib (yes, in a true Montessori hom-kids would not sleep in a crib) to sleeping on a mattress on the floor around 12-16 months old to sleeping in a regular bed. The kids clothes were accessible to them and they have always chosen their own clothes. Yes, I purchase the clothes but they put them together. Sometimes they come up with some interesting combinations. 🙂
In the summer, some of their favorite works over the years have been
1. hand mixer in water and a drop of dish soap to make bubbles, 2. pouring-anything (beans, rice, water) from one container to another, 3. stringing beads, 4. counting, 5. puzzle maps, 6. using eye droppes to mix colored water, 7. penny polishing, 8. stacking the nesting blocks, 9. pop beads, 10. tanograms, 11. shape works. 12. measuring liquids and with a ruler, 13. sewing. 14. finger knitting and 15. gardening-we have raised beds that allow the children to work 16. the magnet board.
Of course, now we are homeschooling. Thus, we do some Montessori works in our school room. The main idea though is to set the environment so that the kiddos can be successful in their environment. So far, it has worked well for our family. In the morning, the kids wake up and get dressed, brush their teeth and make their breakfast all on their own. Yes, we are spoiled.
Oh-I almost forgot. As babies, my kiddos were put in a sling. We did not use the stroller much and they did not use any equipment except for a bouncy seat. Babies on the floor are more prone to explore and develop strong muscles (it also helps them avoid getting plagiocephaly or a flat spot on their skull).
In the pictures, you can see the bathroom set up, the ladder and spin chair, sitting at the table to eat and a few other fun Montessori things in our home over the years.