The Montessori Parenting Style
The studies of Dr. Maria Montessori in the 1900s emphasize Montessori as an educational approach to guide children, not limited to the classroom. Montessori parenting is an authoritative parenting style, considered the best among the four parenting styles.
What is Montessori Parenting?
It’s a child-led parenting approach that mainly focuses on children’s need for learning and their desire to take on responsibilities. As a result, the Montessori method helps fully develop children’s positive potential while providing them comfort and freedom and maintaining healthy limits and reasonable boundaries.
It involves an environment that encourages exploration and learning through discovery. A child is allowed to make mistakes without being punished for the same.
What it isn’t
Dr. Montessori didn’t create Montessori parenting; it isn’t a prescribed parenting style.
Owing to the education system’s success, parents of Montessori school-going children are encouraged to practice Montessori-derived parenting principles at home.
At the same time, no credible research proves or disproves this modern parenting approach’s benefits.
Becoming a Montessori Parent
Bringing the Montessori philosophy into your home and parenting makes it a way of everyday life. Here are some ways to get started on the Montessori parenting style:
Adapt Your Home to Accommodate Your Montessori Parenting approach
Just as Montessori classrooms carefully design a “prepared environment” for the child based on their developmental needs, you must also consider providing a child-proof and child-friendly environment at home.
It’s best not to confine children to cribs or playpens; instead, allow them to explore freely. The older ones can be made responsible for maintaining their own space.
If your little one wants to wash their hands or dress up by themselves, let them. This means making it convenient for them to do so without being assisted; use a step-on stool for them to reach the tap or create a self-care station, and place their clothes in places convenient for them to access. It instills confidence in them, making them more open to adapting to newer habits.
Carefully observing your child makes Montessori parents aware of their child’s preferences, likes, dislikes, and inclinations. But, in addition to observation, you must also respect and adapt.
This means encouraging children to do more of what they seem interested in – learning some musical instrument or being in sensitive periods for learning new things.
Your home environment and parenting style need to be adapted constantly to match their needs and preferences that keep changing over time.
Respect Your Child
Children are tiny humans new to this world and deserve to be respected even at a very young age. It makes them feel loved and heard, and it is easier for them to respect others through your example.
Be kind to them and be patient with them; they will learn to do the same with others around them. Respecting your child involves listening to them carefully and valuing their words, including them in daily activities, avoiding talking about them as if they can’t understand you, and being gentle with them.
Don’t forget to apologize to them when you’re wrong or unable to stay true to your word; it models the behavior they can see and follow.
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko
Children want to spend time with their parents. Therefore, parents must make an effort and spend time with their little ones indoors or outdoors.
Play with them, eat with them, walk with them, and you’ll be able to get familiar with children’s needs and desires. Stop and watch them play while experiencing the world around them.
Discipline: No Punishments or Rewards
Discipline doesn’t have to involve punishments. Instead, Montessori principles support using natural and logical consequences that helps discipline better.
It must be done with exercises that lead to self-control and self-discipline. Parents must point out the natural consequences of undesirable behavior. Rather than punishments causing the child to withdraw or enforcing too much discipline, help them naturally learn and understand consequences.
Follow the Child
A tricky thing to do, follow the child involves letting your child show you what they need for their development, then providing them with the opportunities to help fulfil those developmental needs.
Children do know what they want, and it is for Montessori parents to prepare and provide guidelines for their children, letting them choose what they want to do and how they want to play.
Rather than saying “good job” and praising the end result, praise the efforts or the process and the good feeling they experience from working hard. It helps younger children develop intrinsic motivation.
However, it’s important to remember that children don’t need to be praised every time they do something. Their natural instinct is to learn; they don’t need rewards to encourage learning. Constant praise could turn them into adults who believe they’re entitled to rewards.
Pros of Montessori Parenting
Here are some positive aspects of the Montessori method of parenting:
- Children learn practical life skills that allow them to become independent. They build necessary skills for problem-solving, persistence, asking for help when needed, and openly communicating their needs and desires.
- They become self-motivated, lifelong learners, gain confidence, and develop a love for learning owing to their freedom to choose.
- Teaches self-discipline; with exposure and freedom, children take responsibility for their own learning and learn to be disciplined.
- Allowing children to explore and learn naturally makes them develop a love for learning.
Cons of Montessori Parenting
There are some critical drawbacks of Montessori parenting as well:
- Having a prepared environment for children’s convenience could hinder their critical thinking or learning how to think out of the box. The confidence that comes with succeeding all the time as a child could amount to a false sense of confidence.
- Some kids may find it difficult to have so much freedom. Without an adult’s direction, the child may not know what to do or might engage in the same activity if given a choice.
- Encouraging a lot of independence could be a disadvantage. Children might find it difficult to work in teams or collaborate later in life. It could get harder for them to follow different rules than what they’re used to.
Montessori At Home
Raising a Montessori child requires bridging the gap between school and home. Children have great potential; respecting that helps them grow and develop by building up on their own tendencies and instincts. As important as this is in a Montessori classroom, so is it for the Montessori home environment.
Dr. Montessori emphasizes an approach to disciplining children, communicating with them, guiding them, and preparing an environment that ensures success in a child’s development.
Ideas for Effective Montessori Parenting
It takes some effort and tremendous patience to bring Montessori into your home. Here are some ways to go about it:
- Invest in stools or a learning tower for your child to be able to reach the sink, cabinets, and shelves. You could also set up a self-care station.
- Give your child the time and space for them to put on their shoes; don’t rush them or do it for them. The same goes for a child trying to put on their dress or zip up their jackets.
- Use real dishware instead of plastic dishes or cups.
- Practice observing your child for at least 5 minutes a day.
- Spend time with your kids and engage in some activity with them; cook, play, walk, talk, or even explore nature together.
- Avoid intervening in your child’s time of conflict or struggle. It helps them think their way out of it by themselves, leading to good decision-making skills.
- Speak to your child in a kind, firm tone, and don’t talk down to them. Kneel down to your child’s eye level when speaking with them.
- Establish a routine with kids; it helps teach kids responsibility and important life skills. Try making a routine chart.
- Read (a lot) with your child. Also, try to have family reading time.
- Get some garden tools for kids and engage in gardening with them. This lets them get hands-on with soil, mud, insects, and nature. It is as good as sensory play.
Practicing Montessori methods the way they do in Montessori schools isn’t what this parenting style is about. It’s about how you live, interact, and communicate with your child. From respect to discipline, you can help your child flourish the Montessori way.