The wonderful Becca from The Know & Play Space is here sharing her journey with Montessori play with her little one, Isaac.
The Montessori Method & Montessori-inspired Play
When you hear the word ‘Montessori’, is the first thing that you think of wooden toys or wooden shelves where the beautiful toys are laid out neatly? There is SO much more to Montessori. Read on to find out.
What is The Montessori Method and why is it so beneficial?
The Montessori Approach is a method of education, founded by Dr. Maria Montessori, and is based on child-led, self-directed, and hands-on learning.
The word ‘Montessori’ is often assumed as a label for wooden toys, and although natural resources and materials are part of the method, the concept is so much more than just ‘things’. The Montessori Approach is deeply rooted in mutual respect, trust and understanding between the adult and child. Viewing babies, toddlers and children as capable human beings is an integral part – of allowing them to learn through their own experiences, at their own pace, and in their own way.
2 ways to be more ‘Montessori’ at home
1. Create accessible environments that meet your child’s developmental needs and interests
Montessori suggests that the optimal environment for a child between birth and three years is one that is safe, engaging and nurturing, where trust in both themselves and the world around the child, is promoted.
Your child’s home is their main environment. Montessori suggests that we as adults should aim to create a ‘prepared environment’, meaning that our child’s areas are safe, set up for them to practise skills independently, as well as offer opportunities to make their own choices and follow their own interests.
2. Allow your child Freedom of Movement
Montessori suggests that it is most beneficial for children to develop their gross motor skills naturally – meaning that we as the adults not putting babies into positions that they cannot get into themselves. It is important that babies learn how to roll, sit, stand and walk themselves – using what are called transitional positions to get their own bodies there. Isaac’s natural gross-motor development was very much benefited through having TP Toys Active Tots range in his play space. Isaac was able to pull up to stand on pieces such as the Pikler Triangle and the Climbing Cube, and cruise along these using the ramp between them, without needing any adult support (although supervision is of course needed). This independence and exposure to safe climbing equipment mean that he was able to meet his own developing needs at the time that was right for him. As a young toddler, he is now physically very strong, has good control, stability, and balance for his age, plus has ever-growing confidence in his capabilities – enjoying challenging himself with new gross motor skills.
How do I offer play activities in a Montessori-inspired way?
Babies, Toddlers and Children learn through their play, exploring and investigating constantly, trying to make sense of and understand the world around them. Montessori suggests that we as adults should be a guide figure to our children, following their developmental learning journey, needs and interests. We can facilitate our child’s development by offering play-based learning activities which allow them to practise skills they’re working on at a current stage, or further follow their own interests.
Nature’s Mobiles: Put your little one somewhere comfortable outside and let them watch the trees move in the wind above them.
Family Photos: Print off and laminate some family photographs – great for language development, but also for building a sense of belonging
Treasure Baskets: These are a fantastic way to help your child develop so many skills from one activity. Collecting objects from around the house linked to a particular theme can form a discovery basket, full of objects for your child to wonder at and explore. Isaac particularly loved treasure baskets made up from household objects or shiny things around 6/7 months (and still does now at 17 months!).
Peekaboo Box: A take on a traditional Montessori object permanence box, this is a sustainable play idea – reusing an old cardboard box! Cut holes in the top and around the edges, then add balls or other objects for your little one to drop through the top and recover out of the holes. A much loved one in our household!
Noticed that your little one loves lifting and carrying heavy things around, or sometimes things that are waaaayyy bigger or taller than themselves? This is them trying to reach their body’s maximum effort! It’s an innate stage that toddler’s go through soon after they’ve learnt to walk. They want to test their limits and challenge their own strength to its highest ability. Fill some empty milk bottles with different volumes of water, add food colouring and glue gun the top on. Weights for toddlers!
Help your child to develop their fine motor skills by providing containers for them to poke objects into! Empty spice jars, with wooden skewers (sharp ends removed) or lolly sticks, work amazingly for this.
Want to learn more about Montessori at Home or discover more Montessori-inspired play ideas? Follow @theknowandplayspace on Instagram!
Written by Becca from The Know & Play Space