Parents have asked us for ways to support, in a “Montessori way”, what is happening at school. Here are a few ideas. You are probably already doing helpful things without realizing it. Please do let us know what Montessori things you do at home.
- Count items, such as how many kernels of corn are left on the child’s plate. He eats one and now count how many there are.
- When divvying up candies (for example), count how many for an absent parent or sibling or grandparent first, then the present parent, then the child. In this way, the child learns to consider others before self which is valuable for grace and courtesy.
- Instead of saying the alphabet letter names, say the sounds. So instead of A, B, C, D… Say /a/ (as in Apple) and /b/ (as in Banana) and /k/ (as in Cat) and /d/ (as in Dog). Use the short vowel sounds for now: Apple, Elephant, Igloo, Octopus, Umbrella. It sounds funny but saying sounds helps with reading and writing.
- Put your child’s dishes and cutlery in a drawer or on a shelf that she can easily reach. Let her get her own dishes for a meal and set the items on her placemat on the table.
- Let him put his fork and spoon in the dishwasher basket (or sink). Eventually, he’ll be able to put his bowl and plate in the right spots as well saving you some clean up time. Teaching control when opening and closing the door and sliding the bottom and upper trays help develop inner self control as well. Explain and demonstrate calmly. Expect a few loud bangs as the learning process happens using “uh oh” and other expressions to try and reinforce self-control.
- If it’s possible, have a small bar fridge in the kitchen or eating area which your child can open. Put some cut fruit and vegetables in jars with loosened closed lids, a small half-filled pitcher of milk or water, some slices of bread, and a spread (ex: jam, nut butter, cream cheese). Now your youngster can help herself to a nutritious snack.
Start with one item in the fridge and show her how to open the door, remove the item, serve herself (she may need to get a plate or cup or fork from her dish collection) and clean up. It’ll take a few tries, there will be some spills, but she’ll feel more confident in her independence and you’ll gain a few more minutes in your day.
- Let him put on his own shoes even if it takes forever. Teach him Tongue, Toe, Heel, Tongue, Attach.
Tongue: pull out the tongue of the shoe and lift it up away from the opening of the shoe.
Toe: slide toes into shoe opening (possibly holding on to the tongue if it keeps sliding back).
Heel: push heel into shoe using finger to keep back of shoe in place if necessary.
Tongue: readjust the tongue for comfort.
Attach: attach the Velcro, tie laces or other closure.
A few practices may be necessary but the time taken at first will save you much time later.
- When turning left or right in the car, voice it so your child gets the feel of left and right.
- When reading stories, use expression and voices. Point out items in the pictures and ask your child what they might be doing. Review colours, counting and observations in this way. Keep it enjoyable for both of you.
- Spend at least a half hour a day outdoors with your child, every day. Take a deep breath and notice the scents. Listen for birds, insects, airplanes and cars. Notice the changing features of the trees with each season. Play “I spy” on the porch if it’s raining, or better yet, suit up and go taste a raindrop or snowflake. This type of activity builds relationship with your child and helps him learn to observe in different ways. It’s fun too!
- Laugh with your child at humourous situations. After Mommy’s milk, laughter is the strongest bonding experience. No kidding…
- Make the sleeping area as dark as possible. Any light can disrupt sleep and the important work the brain does during sleep. A good night’s rest is vital for moods, appetite, learning and health.
Do you have any to add to this list? Do let us know, and we will update this list as we go along.