Isn’t it funny how there seems to be one question everyone is asking at the same time. The last two weeks this is what I keep hearing…
“We can’t afford a Montessori school”/”We don’t have a Montessori school in our area”/or similar – and do you think it’s ok to still have a Montessori approach at home?
The short answer, “yes, I think it’s possible!”
Let’s have a look at what kind of things you can be doing at home without any Montessori materials and even if your child is not at a Montessori school.
Because to me, Montessori is a way of life. Not simply an approach to education.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but you don’t stop learning once you step out of school. We don’t say, “Phew. Now I can stop learning,” as we make our way home from school or study or even as adults. We are constantly learning and our children too.
Moreover, I think the Montessori approach is about allowing our child to be seen, understood and accepted for who they are; to be their guide to become the best version of themselves.
10 tips for living in a Montessori way every day
If the Montessori approach resonates with you, then there are so many resources available for you to live in a Montessori way in your family from books to blogs to Instagram to Pinterest and more.
Even if you didn’t have any Montessori materials in your home, here are 10 principles you could apply at home:
- respect for the child – speak and listen as you would to an adult
- follow the child – trust your child will develop at their own pace
- allow time – when we slow down, there is more time for exploration, curiosity, conversation and connection
- set kind and clear limits – Montessori is also about respect to others, the environment and oneself and taking responsibility when needed
- create rich experiences – experiences don’t need to cost a lot of money. Head outdoors, walk to the end of your street at the child’s pace, go to a pond to observe, visit a fire station or (our family’s favourite) watching the trains, trips to the library to borrow books etc.
- involve your child in daily life – prepare food together, involve them as you do washing and cleaning, create gardening projects together, prepare for visitors, etc
- help me to help myself – our children are so capable so we help as little as possible and as much as is necessary
- observation – be a scientist and look at your child as if you have never met them before
- hands on concrete learning – rather than simply telling your child things or showing them how things work, let your child make discoveries for themselves
- set up your home for your child to have success – a place for everything and everything in its place where less is definitely more
Will it be confusing for the child?
If your child attends a regular school, some of these ideas will be quite different than the school environment. For example, in school it may be a more top-down approach, or where the children are motivated by rewards and punishments rather than trusting your child’s innate love of learning.
However, I always say that as parents we still have an enormous impact on our children. Our children are at school for around 6 hours a day, 40 weeks a year. The rest of the time they are usually in our homes where we are showing them wonder about the world around us, modelling a love of learning, reading books, and adventuring outdoors.
As your child gets older, they may question some ideas from school, for example,“Why do we all need to sit at our desks at school?” or “Why don’t we get stickers at home for helping like we do at school?”
I see these questions not as bad, but as an opportunity to discuss why you have made different choices at home. For example, “In our family, we find it important to support you, whilst not taking away the joy of learning from you.”
Advanced tip: be careful about how we speak about their school/others
I often say that our children absorb more of what we do and say, than what we tell them to do. In the same way, if they hear us complaining about the school they are at, the teachers, people who raise their children differently etc, then they likely will pick up negativity towards their schooling experience and others.
If you don’t like the school, I believe that we can be creative to change our situation OR we need to do the work on ourselves to accept the situation.
Changing the situation might be as radical as selling your house and taking a year to travel in a van. Or choosing to homeschool. Or finding a school where you feel like the values of the school are more in alignment to yours.
Accepting the situation might be seeing the positives, for example, being in the local school with children from the neighbourhood, possibly learning the local language, or having exposure to a variety of different people and value systems.
Be careful with your words and actions.
Your children are watching and listening to everything.
In our family, Oliver and Emma were lucky enough to go to Montessori school up to 12 years old. We used some savings for them to go to a Montessori preschool in Australia and, in the Netherlands, all schools (including Montessori) are in the public system.
When they were finished primary school, both chose for non-Montessori high schools.
We explained that the rules would be different than what they were used to, for example, as small as needing permission to use the toilet, to larger things like punishments if they were late. They thought these were silly rules, but were able to respect these rules too.
And we continue to live in a Montessori way even though they are now young adults. Being available to talk to them and support them. Helping them be independent. Watching them navigate the world in their own way.
And being there when they need us. Teenagers need parents too.
I hope this helps you navigate your situation in a more positive and peaceful way.
Because it takes just one family at a time to spread some peace and positivity in the world. So start with yours.
If you’d like to read more about parenting in a Montessori way, even if your child is not at a Montessori school, you might like to read these blog posts as well:
- What you can learn from parenting Montessori-style – where I talk in more detail about how to parent in a Montessori way
- Yes, you can Montessori on a budget! – where I talk further about that Montessori is not just about buying the materials