I spent my four years of college exploring every philosopher of early childhood education. The methods and ideas behind children’s development and the ways educators can aid this development. We learned the most amazing things such as the zone of proximal development, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, differentiation, etc.
One type of education still fascinated me to this day – The Montessori way.
In 1907, Maria Montessori opened her own school in Italy to provide education for low-income children. She did not use the traditional classroom approach. Instead, she believed in child-directed learning.
To keep it simple:
“Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play.”
This method fascinates me. This method is affordable, simple, and easy to implement at home.
In my house, I subscribe to the Montessori way. My goal is for my children to learn through real-world experiences and all hands-on learning. Montessori can look different in every home. Of course, I took a social media deep dive for inspiration before I began to implement this method in my house.
These pages really lead me to where I am today with Henry.
Henry’s playroom is MINIMAL. I’m talking bookshelves, a chair, a rug, and 7 toys. That’s it. Seven toys. Henry gets 7 different toys every two weeks.
I’m sure you’ve seen all over the importance of rotating your child’s toys! And let me tell you, Henry found a toy that’s been hidden for a month and he played with that baby for an hour like he had never seen it before! His interest was renewed!
But Montessori pushes you to take this toy rotating a step further: a simple guide I follow is to have toys / hands-on activities that fall into specific categories.
- cognitive development: something that requires higher-level thinking
- small world pretend play: think dolls, zoo animals, show characters, etc.
- fine motor: anything that helps finger hand and wrist muscles to develop
- role play: play food, dress up, doctors toys, etc
- manipulative toys: anything you can build with
- sensory play: exposure to different textures, sounds, scents, etc.
- gross motor: anything that requires whole-body movement
- And always always always LITERACY. Just fill a shelf your child’s height with books.
Montessori wants learning to be self-directed and hands-on. This happens by creating a space filled with purposeful toys. This happens when your children is not overwhelmed by options, surrounded by toys that flash and make noises at them, and when everything is within your child’s reach.
By all means, I am still learning how to implement Montessori play in my house. But after a month in this playroom, I can really guarantee that everything Henry does in this room is self-directed and hands-on.
Henry can see all of his options. Henry can reach all of his options. Henry is free to choose and pick up and move in when he wants. Henry’s options are all purposefully chosen to aid development in all areas. Henry gets new toys every two weeks and walks in amazed thinking it’s all BRAND NEW!
The Montessori way works for me. It works for Henry. It works for my budget.
I’m not here to say it’s the one and only way to operate a playroom and play with your kids. But this way has simplified our home and our activities and I certainly feel like everyone can benefit from intentional and purposeful play at home!