Real World Play: How I use Montessori Philosophy at Home
Every parent has received toys as gifts or has bought gifts for their kiddos in high hopes that they would love to play with them endlessly only to have your dreams slashed when they choose the box as their new form of entertainment—or in our case rolling around on the packing paper laughing hysterically. (I may or may not have joined in because it was actually pretty fun!)
So why do we spend so much money on toys when our children seem to be drawn to the simple everyday items? Full disclosure: our kids are fortunate to have toys that I have been rotating since day one. It wasn’t until I decided to put my son into part time day care that I became aware of all the different ways to teach our little ones. I then went down the internet rabbit hole Googling all the different types of day care.
After a mini moment of overwhelming thoughts, I centered and focused on my child’s personality. He loves being outdoors, he loves helping me clean/cook/do chores (for now), he also is a very independent learner. To this day, Leo loves playing with others but loves just as much to go off by himself and play or read alone. Ideally, it was my hope to put my child somewhere that I knew he would thrive—especially because this was his first experience being away from me.
As a family, we have always had certain values when it comes to education. We value education but know that people learn in many different ways. We want our children to be empowered and have the confidence to make their own decisions, to ask questions, and to not be afraid to fail. We also have a united front on television—we have one, we use it when we are desperate for a break but it is normally off throughout the day. Our kids know how to use a tablet but that tablet is only used on long trips or if Mama has a deadline and the apparent full moon has transformed her offspring into ravenous tantrum tornadoes.
After hours of research—mainly online reviews from moms in the immediate area—one program stood out to me: Montessori. The Montessori method of teaching is a view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive. This is a very independent way of learning and both of my kiddos have shown on a daily basis that they prefer independent play.
I was so thrilled to have been able to send our son to Sandwich Montessori School in Sandwich, MA. We only sent him for half a year mostly part time but didn’t regret it! The staff was very supportive of our family situation and Leo truly excelled. There are many Montessori things that we adopted in our own home now that we have PCS’d but the one that both kiddos love is mirror play! When researching Montessori, I would constantly see this mirror placed low enough for babies and toddlers alike. It wasn’t until I actually toured a Montessori school that I realized these toddlers loved to use a spray bottle filled with water and a sponge or cloth to clean the mirror! What a fun idea that also helps develop motor skills and teaches kiddos real world responsibility!
You can most certainly go online and purchase authentic Montessori toys and gadgets. I on the other hand chose to purchase a regular mirror, dollar store spray bottle and an old rag or sponge. Another fun and inexpensive Montessori inspired toy is taking an old coffee can and some clothes pins. Place the clothes pins on the rim of the coffee can and show your kiddo how to take them off and place them back on the edge. This has kept my children busy for a good 45 mins and the concentration these toddlers are able to use will astound you! I would love to hear your busy projects for toddlers. Comment below and I will respond!