A common question Montessori educators often hear from families is, “Is Montessori is right for my child?” The answer is a resounding: yes! Montessorians take great pride in asserting that a Montessori education is absolutely right for every child. The method can be adapted to many different learning styles, and children thrive in a Montessori environment. There is a caveat, however.
While Montessori is right for every child, it may not be right for every parent.
- How can this be?
- And what do parents have to do with their child’s success in a Montessori environment?
The truth is that the understanding and involvement of parents in a child’s education is vitally important to his success. As we’re sure you understand, Montessori parents are very interested in their child’s classroom and school as a whole. We feel lucky to have a parent body that participates in school events, attends conferences, and helps out the teachers when they are able. Our parents also do an excellent job of seeking out more information about Montessori philosophy, and taking the principles to heart. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that Montessori philosophy, while wonderful in a school environment, isn’t just for the classroom. It can also be applied at home.
Montessori parents bring the principles into their home in several ways, and they start by observing their child. To a Montessori teacher, observation is one of the most important things she can do in the classroom. The same is true of parents at home! Our society can be so busy these days that we may not take the time to appreciate the smaller moments. So, participate in the Montessori experience: take the time to watch your child. Think about what he is doing and the deeper desires and motivations behind those actions. You may notice that he’s not just throwing cheerios on the floor; he’s working on his pincer grip and exploring cause and effect. You may have a budding Isaac Newton on your hands!
Another way Montessori parents integrate the philosophy into their home is by allowing the child time and space to practice being independent. Give your child the opportunity to dress herself, brush her own teeth, and make her own snack. Set up your home to facilitate this independence - keep a small pitcher of milk, a little container of cereal, bowls and spoons in a low cupboard that your child can reach, for example. This will allow her to be independent in making her own breakfast. Make sure to have stools available around the house so she can wash her hands at the sink. You could even invest in little light switch extenders so your child can turn the lights on and off herself. Walk around your home and think about it from your child’s point of view. Brainstorm ways that you can facilitate her independence in your home.
Montessori parents like ours also include their child in their everyday life. They let their child help bake, fold laundry, and dust the house. They quiet those fears of something spilling and let their child help to put away the groceries. And if something does spill? It’s an opportunity to practice cleaning up! Help your child mop up the mess with a towel or a sponge. Reinforce independence by assuring your child that making a mistake isn’t bad or something to be feared, because we always have the opportunity to try again.
Montessori is an educational method that can be adapted to fit many different learning styles, but it cannot be adapted to fit every different type of parent. Montessori parents, like our Suzuki parents, are engaged, committed, and constantly looking inward to see how they can best help their child achieve his highest potential.