5 Habits and Principles to Become Montessori Parents
No matter how many conversations you have and the planning you have done with your partner or spouse, when you first bring your tiny little baby home, it can feel overwhelming. Emotions are running high and the love and joy you can feel when you first hold your baby are nearly unrivaled in all human experiences.
Most people also feel, at some point, overwhelmed. Asking themselves, “How am I going to raise this child properly? What is the right parenting method? Can I create the right type of environment?”, among others. This is natural! We all want to do what is best for our kids.
How can you know what parenting strategy is the best? What is the best way to teach your kids practical skills, positive discipline and common sense to be successful in everyday life, all while expressing and showing your love? That is why many parents have adopted the Montessori Method, developed by Maria Montessori, as a parenting style.
What is Montessori Parenting?
Montessori parenting is an over-arching theory, a philosophy, about parenting that encompasses every aspect of raising and growing with children. The way they develop skills, discipline, the type of classrooms they learn in and how they live their lives are all included in this philosophy. Your relationship with your kids and how you set up their environment are all part of the Montessori parenting style.
Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator, believed that education should be centered around the children, making sure they had the freedom to make choices about how they spent their time. She showed that in the right environment, kids could show self-discipline and develop skills that would prepare them for the future, all by their own choice.
Her approach and its results stunned the educational world and began to be adopted internationally in the early 1900’s. Since then, her teaching philosophy has been adopted into a parenting style that helps kids develop healthy self-confidence and esteem. It also is a great way to grow robust and lasting bonds with your kids. How can you become a Montessori parent?
5 Principles for Becoming a Montessori Parent
- Respect your child
Respecting your children and expressing that respect is a big part of being a Montessori parent. Kids learn through imitation and observation and if you show them respect, they will model that to you, as well as others. As an example, don’t disregard or ignore your children if they are trying to get your attention, even if you are busy. Stop, let them know that you will be with them in a moment and when you finally do get to them, thank them for being patient. That is modeling respect.
- Freedom with limits
Don’t do for others what they can do for themselves! This is a core truth of Montessori parenting, even when it comes to their schedules. Freedom with limits means letting them decide what they will do with their time and allowing them to do as much as they are able to on their own. Dressing, hand washing and cleaning up are all part of this process and even though it may take longer (and test your patience), they will grow and thrive from this dedication to their freedom.
- Uninterrupted work periods
We are often quick, especially today, to give our kids something to distract them. Uninterrupted work periods give kids time to learn self-discipline and repeat patterns. It will also give you time to observe your child as they discover what interests and excites them. Just as they are learning, you will be learning too!
- Give them space
Children are not like adults. This may seem like a simplistic statement, but it can be easy to forget that kids don’t think or experience life like adults. They are curious and want to explore, completely unconcerned about your schedule or the need to go somewhere else. Take this into account when planning trips or other errands, giving them time to be kids.
- Effective praise
Praise is powerful. A parent’s words have a way of cementing into a child their worth, their self-esteem and their views of the world. Praise children for the behaviors and the attitudes you want to see as well as the little wins, such as the attempts to dress themselves, wash their hands and clean up after themselves.
How to Adopt this Parenting Style
- Set limits
Humans thrive with structure. Limits are used, at first, for safety. Children don’t know what is dangerous or unsafe. As kids grow, you can begin to expand their limits and their freedom of movement. Limits then frame their expectations (“I can go here, and I can do this”), allowing them to grow into those new limits.
- Let them try things and explore the world
Trust in the process is key. Creating opportunities for kids to try things and explore on their own gives them the space they need to flourish and develop their interests.
- Let them participate in activities
Kids learn through doing. Participation in activities is truly the best teacher for any child. How they participate, and if they choose to participate again, will also tell you about their interests and passions.
- Create a distraction-free environment
Distraction comes easy for adults, never mind little kids! Create a distraction-free environment so that they can focus on the tasks at hand and work on developing their senses.
- Discipline with reason and logic
Discipline does not have to be spanking or yelling at a toddler or with rewards and punishment. That can be counterproductive. Discipline with logic and reason, using gentle parenting techniques, making sure to let your kids know why and how they should respect the limits given to them.
Why Montessori Parenting is Not Bad
No parenting method will make sense to all parents and there will always be differing points of view. How we go about preparing our kids for life is a personal choice that we all must make. The advantages of Montessori parenting are clear and help kids grow and become highly functional, well-centered adults.
- Montessori kids tend to have levels of confidence and self-esteem as they are accustomed to learning and doing things on their own accord.
- Children raised in this method are disciplined in their work and are often self-starters.
- In the end, by teaching and allowing kids to do tasks and activities for themselves, you will have more time as your kids become self-reliant for the small things like getting dressed and washing their hands.
- Learning to respect limits and work within them from the very beginning builds a desire for structure in Montessori kids, a trait that helps them, and you as a parent, in the future.
What Montessori Parenting is Not for Everyone
Not all lifestyles are conducive to the Montessori method. A more relaxed parenting approach may seem more appealing and that is fine! Montessori parenting is not for everyone.
- Creating a structured environment that is the same every day may not be possible for some parents to provide for their kids.
- Letting kids learn skills and develop at their own pace is slower and can be frustrating at times. Not all parents will want to take this approach.
- Montessori schools can be expensive and not all parents will be able to afford to put their kids in a Montessori education program.
- A strong focus on independence, as opposed to teamwork, can make some parents wary of the Montessori method.
- Open-ended classrooms with a lack of structured learning programs may also leave parents concerned their children aren’t learning the necessary skills.
For those who choose to use it, the Montessori method will help develop strong, independent children that are well-adjusted and ready to take on the world. As a parent, you want your kids to know that they are loved and that you have done everything you can to prepare them for their future. The Montessori method gives you the tools and the framework to do all this effectively.
Hi! I'm Cali, Founder of Cali's Books
“I’ve loved books since childhood and wanted to transmit this enthusiasm to my children”
I'm a mom of two young children who trained as an engineer and worked in investment banking and at Disney. A French of Caribbean origin (Martinique to be precise!), I grew up in Paris. Los Angeles is now the place I call home!
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