Maybe you searched child-led learning, hands-on activities, or activities for toddlers and you came across this term ‘Montessori.’ Perhaps you’ve heard about it in passing at the library or park, maybe it was filed away from a college class of days gone by or a friend’s child is in a Montessori school and loves it.
So, you did a Google or Pinterest search or joined a Montessori group on Facebook and found article after article, opinion after opinion, post after post with more Montessori than you know what to do with.
It’s the best thing ever and you want to implement it all! Like, yesterday. But what do you do with all this stuff you have? There’s toys to get rid of! Rooms to rearrange! Books to read! Activities to plan! Supplies to buy! Family members to convince!
But, you soon find yourself frustrated. Why won’t my child pay attention during a lesson? How do I do this? He keeps throwing the weaning glass! She just dumps the trays over. Should we move to a floor bed? Is this toy appropriate? Should I make or buy materials? I’ve done all this work and they’re not even interested! Is my child behind? Have I missed my chance with Montessori?
You’ve fallen down a Montessori rabbit hole. What do you do?
First, step back and take a deep breath.
No, really. Stop pinning, searching, and worrying if you’re doing it “right.” Take a break from implementing Montessori.
I’d highly suggest anyone who’s just discovered Montessori to take the time to really learn about the method and philosophy before overhauling your home or homeschool. Take a few months to slowly absorb this information and then gradually put it into practice.
Invest in a few good books.
The Joyful Child (birth to 3) or Child of the World (3 to 12+) by Susan Stephenson, Discovery of the Child by Maria Montessori, How To Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Wayby Tim Seldin, or Montessori Today (for elementary) by Paula Polk Lillard are a few good places to start.
Read, ask questions, begin to gain an understanding of Montessori before making major changes. I firmly believe a solid understanding of the Montessori philosophy will take you further and farther and help you through seasons of burnout and frustration more than just jumping into activities you’ve seen on Pinterest.
It’s a word we use a lot in Montessori, but for good reason. Observe your children, your environment, and how the two interact. Observe yourself. Take the time for self-reflection, making note of your own desires, tendencies, and even prejudices. Observe and evaluate before trying something new.
Consider how you approach childhood.
Is the child an empty vessel to be poured into? Or a full, capable person waiting to be unleashed? Montessori believed the child needed two things to thrive in life: access to his environment and freedom.
Build a Montessori lifestyle.
At the heart of the Montessori philosophy is a desire to learn and explore, but not for the sake of acquiring information and going to the next level. In the Montessori method we lead, learn, and explore for the joy of discovery. Prepare a beautiful and useful environment, get in touch with your senses, slow life down, work together, explore.
There’s obviously much more we could dive into starting Montessori at home, but for now start here, build a foundation, and find a steady, living pace before adding more to your plate.
Helpful articles to dive deeper:
What is Montessori Really? is a great post with a personal perspective from Marie at Child-Led Life.
What Makes an Activity Montessori? from Rachel at Racheous – Loveable Learning offers a simple graphic explaining principles of Montessori materials.
Montessori 101: The Basics from Aubrey at Montessori Mischief offers a great list of Montessori basics, including a free printable. Aubrey is a great go-to resource for Montessori. She offers a Montessori parenting course and is a plethora of balanced, helpful information.
Looking for help with Montessori elementary? Visit Jessica’s post on Getting Started with Elementary Montessori Homeschooling.