Using the Montessori method in homeschool
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
The Montessori method is based on a foundation of encouragement and respect for children’s natural development. There is an emphasis on freedom within limits, life skills, and independence. Children learn through discovery by interacting with their environment.
- Child-friendly environment
The Montessori method uses kid sized dishes, silverware, chairs, tables, etc. The learning environment should be safe, engaging, calm, and in order. As the old adage states, “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place.” Open space for learning is essential, since it is believed that children become frustrated by clutter or obstructions in their path.
Materials need to be within children’s reach. Posters should be at children’s eye level. Books should be easily accessible. Books are more inviting when they are placed in eye-catching displays or in decorative baskets. Simply standing a book upright on a low shelf can spark the interest of a child.
It is believed that children learn better when they engage multiple senses, therefore sensory materials (beans, sand, rice, leaves, pinecones) are used in learning activities. Classroom materials often have a control of error (circle peg can only fit in the circle hole) so that children can learn through self-correction.
Wooden blocks, shoes to practice tying laces, buttons, zippers, buckles, wooden sand trays, water pitchers, measuring cups, microscopes, magnifying glasses, funnels, plants, sorting trays, sandpaper letters (these can be made by tracing letter shapes on sandpaper sheets and cutting them out), crayons, colored pencils, geometric shapes, puzzles, playdough, music, living creatures (butterflies, ants, turtles, rabbits, fish, etc.)
Learning is facilitated in a prepared environment. The teacher aims to inspire the children toward discovery. The lessons are directed by the children’s interest and natural curiosities. This interest-based learning is believed to spur a life long love for learning. The teacher purposefully provides opportunities for exploration and children are encouraged to ask questions. Children engage in hands-on learning and problem-solving. They are free to choose what they learn and free to continue their lesson.
- Cooperation over competition.
Collaboration with other children is an important part of the Montessori method. Children learn to work together. Older children gain leadership skills by helping younger children. The Montessori method fosters the concept of community. Children do not receive grades or rewards. When using the Montessori method in homeschool, teach children to cooperate and have older children help teach their younger siblings. Behavior is managed through redirection and communication. Children’s behavior improves when they are captivated by discovery.
- Character and Life skills
Children learn to take care of their environment. Teach household chores to your children when you are using the Montessori method in homeschool. Expect everyone to accomplish chores together. When children learn new skills they begin to develop a sense of responsibility. The teacher gives appropriate safety rules and demonstrates the new skills while explaining each step. The child is given ample time to practice.
When children are capable of accomplishing a task by themselves, they are encouraged to do so. Children have an inner-drive toward self-sufficiency. In fact, the ages between 18 months and 3 years are considered critical for developing a sense of independence. In psychosocial development, Erik Erikson defined this stage as “autonomy vs. shame and doubt.” If the child is encouraged and taught how to do things for themselves, they gain a sense of autonomy. However, if a child is too reliant on others, they begin to doubt their own capabilities and develop feelings of shame. The Montessori method teaches children how to do things for themselves and how to learn. By increasing their independence, their self-esteem and confidence increase as well.
- Ideas for using the Montessori method in homeschool:
- Practice writing letters or numbers using a sand tray
- Set the table
- Pick up after themselves
- Help with food preparation
- Younger children can wash fruits and vegetables, pour water, prepare a sandwich, spread butter, peel an orange, slice a banana, work the salad spinner, tear herbs or lettuce leaves, break apart broccoli, measure and mix ingredients.
- Older children can crack eggs, peel and chop vegetables, boil water, and learn to use appliances
- Help with household chores (wipe tables, use vinegar to clean windows, sweep, put dishes away, dust furniture, fold clothes, getting the mail, use a screwdriver to tighten doorknobs, change batteries, make the bed, recycle)
- Exhibit manners and courtesy (greeting someone warmly, introducing themselves, handshaking, thinking before they speak, writing thank-you notes, speaking clearly, forgiveness, holding a door open, helping the elderly, offering their seat, not interrupting, good posture, eating with their mouth closed, asking to be excused, phone etiquette, library etiquette, church etiquette, handling embarrassment, being a friend, understanding stranger danger)
- Hygiene (brush teeth, floss, shower, comb hair, wash hands, clip nails)
- Get dressed (fasten buttons, tie shoes, tie a tie)
- Tend a garden
- Care for an animal
- Use hand tools
- Discover how to research (using keywords, the Dewey Decimal system, reference materials, genres)
- Nature study (plant bulbs or seeds, teach proper care of plants, observe and record the plant’s growth, learn the parts of the plant; observe insects, research their purpose, learn parts of an insect; study birds and migration; look at objects in nature under a magnifying glass or a microscope; discuss living and nonliving; talk about nocturnal and diurnal animals)
- Cultural study
- Puzzles (see post about puzzles here)
- Guess the smell. Place a blindfold or sleep mask over the child’s eyes and hold different scents up to their nose. Try using flowers, lemons, onions, garlic, spices, herbs, or essential oils.
- Taste test. Discuss the different types of taste (sweet, sour, salty, bitter) and have the children try different prepared foods and describe the taste.
- Listen to music and try to guess what instruments you are hearing. Is it a percussion, woodwind, string, keyboard, or brass instrument? Is the music fast or slow? Is it high pitch or low pitch? Is it loud or soft? Listen to music by famous composers and try to guess which composer it is.
- Witness metamorphosis
- Teach something to a younger sibling or friend
I appreciate you taking the time to visit Happy Fit Homeschool. Please be a sharing person and leave a comment below. I hope to see you here again soon!