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Category: Montessori

Why It’s Hard to Be a Montessori Parent

Obviously I’m a huge advocate of raising and educating children in a Montessori way. That’s why I work at a Montessori school and that is why I write this blog. But let me tell you, it isn’t always easy and it isn’t always fun. So here are the reasons why it is hard to be a Montessori parent. If you’d like to learn more about Montessori, make sure you read my post What the Heck is Montessori? and listen to the podcast at the end.

We also recorded a podcast about the downside to independence. Listen to it in the post or find it in the iTunes store by searching Quirky Parenting.

I love raising an independent Montessori kid. But sometimes being a Montessori parent is annoying. Here are the lighthearted reasons I think being a Montessori parent is hard. quirkyandthenerd.com

What the Heck is Montessori?

Only weirdos use Montessori for their kids, right? At least, that is what I thought initially. Several years ago, I was a nanny for two children who attended a Montessori school. I totally internally judged them, because the only things I had heard was that they didn’t have any rules so the kids ran wild and that the kids were unprepared for the “real world” of the conventional classroom.

Long story short, I was offered a position in the toddler room at the Montessori school they attended and four years later I have found my fit. I love what I do, I love the school, and I love Montessori. And I have determined that the world is sorely lacking in knowledge about Montessori. When I was an education major in school, I believe we read exactly one paragraph about the Montessori philosophy. But the world needs to know, so I am shouting it from the rooftops! (P.S. Make sure you also listen to my podcast all about Montessori. That episode is at the bottom of this post!)

 

What the heck is Montessori? Here is a simple explanation about the Montessori method and how I use it at home with my toddler. quirkyandthenerd.com

 

Now before I go on, let me just say that I am not a trained Montessori teacher. Everything I have learned is from experience working in a Montessori school and books and articles I have read. I am in no way an expert. I am also not going to delve into everything because we could have a conversation that lasted for hours about Montessori.

Freedom of Movement: Learning to Trust a Toddler’s Abilities

From the time Mac was born, I tried really hard to not keep her strapped into one kind of chair or another. She occasionally sat in her swing. And obviously she would be in her (not bucket) car seat in the car. But otherwise she was either sitting with me or down on the floor, free to explore her own space. I believe whole heartedly in giving a toddler and even a baby freedom of movement. But it can be a little scary. Here’s how I gave Mac freedom of movement without also giving myself a heart attack.

Freedom of movement is a large part of Montessori for babies and toddlers. But learning to trust your child is hard. Read more at quirkyandthenerd.com

Toddler Books: What Should a Toddler Be Reading?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means if you buy through my link, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclosure page here.

There are many toys that I think are worthwhile to give to a toddler. (Read my post about what a Montessori kid plays with.) Some are good for gross motor skills and some are good for fine motor skills. But one thing that I feel is so worthwhile to give to a toddler is a book. But what makes for good toddler books? There are two important qualities that toddler books should have.

I will throw in my usual disclaimer here that I believe in all things in moderation. Are a few books that don’t have the qualities listed below going to mentally damage your toddler? Of course not.

There are so many toddler books out there. But what is the best kind to give to a toddler? Read about two qualities toddler books should have. quirkyandthenerd.com

Four Activities to Do With a Montessori Baby

When Mac was born, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with her. She slept and ate, but how in the world do you play with a baby? I discovered that there are four very easy activities that should be done with every Montessori baby.

How do you even play with a Montessori baby? Here are four easy, Montessori activities to do with a baby. quirkyandthenerd.com

Two Ways to Help Your Toddler’s Sense of Order

Any parent of a toddler is very familiar with tantrums. Toddlers will scream, throw themselves on the floor, and squeeze some tear out for the most irrational reasons. Believe it or not, there is a reason for this: a toddler’s sense of order is just coming into play. If you want to read more in-depth about the sense of order, read this post here.

But imagine if you were an explorer and you mapped out an area before you went to bed. When you wake up in the morning and look outside, everything is different. How confusing and frustrating it would be. That is what the world is like for toddlers. From the time a child is born, they map their world. My toys are in that basket, the couch is over there, the coffee table is there. If we rearrange or even move something small, we are messing up their world. We have offended their sense of order and they just want their world to stay the same.

Anecdotally, I can tell you I have seen numerous tantrums caused by a disruption to routine or physical space. Sadly, many parents seem clueless to the cause and just end up frustrated. Sometimes after a few days where a child has seemed “off” with their mood, we find out one of the parents is on a business trip and their morning routine has been totally different. No wonder they are having trouble! So what can we do? We can keep their map intact. There are two simple ways to do that: keep things tidy and stick to a routine.

As your toddler's sense of order emerges, there are two ways to help prevent tantrums. Click to read about them here. quirkyandthenerd.com

Sense of Order: How Toddler’s Understand Their World

Does your toddler cry when you fold laundry a different way? Were they inconsolable when you suggested walking a different way to the park? Or do they demand that you sing the same dumb song every time they are in the bathtub because you made the mistake of doing it one time? Well good news, your toddler isn’t a dictator or drama queen in the making, they are just getting their sense of order.

Toddlers can act like irrational dictators sometimes, but there is a reason. Learn about what a toddler's sense of order is and some simple things you can do about it. quirkyandthenerd.com

Toys: What Does a Montessori Kid Play With?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means if you buy through my link, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclosure page here.

When most people hear the term “Montessori” they automatically think we are all hippie dippies (and I kind of am, but you can read about what the heck Montessori is.) You might wonder what Mac as a Montessori kid has for toys at home. So here is a peek into what she has available to her during the day. I switch out her toys weekly. All of these things are toys that Mac and I both love. Just keep in mind two things:

  1. She is 15 months old as I write this. I have a large range of things available, from more “baby” toys that are favorites of hers and things that are well above her age range because I like to challenge her, even in areas where she may already be ahead.
  2. I believe in moderation. While I follow many of the Montessori ideals (like simple, non-electronic, wooden toys), I do allow some that don’t follow those guidelines. I have a general rule about no electronic toys, but I do have a few that I let slide. I also strive to provide Mac with toys mostly made of wood and other natural materials, but there are exceptions. I’ll show those and more to you below.

 

My 15 month old Montessori toddler uses many kinds of toys. To learn about the Montessori toys she uses, read about them and how I rotate her toys at quirkyandthenerd.com

Reminder: A Toddler Helping You Isn’t Helpful

After having Mac help me with some household chores the last few days, I just wanted to quickly remind everyone that a toddler helping you isn’t helpful. What I mean is that asking a toddler to help you do a chore isn’t going to speed it along and get the job done. You have a toddler help for three reasons: future practice, interest and getting things done. If you need a few ideas, read my post about Four Simple Ways Toddlers Can Help Clean Up.

toddler helping laundry

Future Practice

Now, obviously we all want children who pitch in and help keep the house running. You live here, you take care of it. But parents tend to make the mistake of requiring children to do chores when they are older, instead of right away. Having toddlers help (or “help” as it should maybe be phrased) sets them up to doing more in the future. If you expect them to carry their dishes to the sink as a toddler, it becomes a habit. As long as you start small, you can build up as their skills increase.

In the picture above, Mac was taking the clean socks and putting them in that box. Did I really need socks in a box? No, I did not need socks in a box. (Whoa there Dr. Seuss.) But did she enjoy helping? Yes, and she even put the socks in the basket when I was filling it back up with folded laundry. As Mac grows, I’ll have her start with something easy like stacking washcloths and we will work up from there.

Four Simple Ways Toddlers Can Help Clean Up

Toddlers can help clean. I know it seems unlikely, but toddlers love to clean! At first, they won’t exactly be helpful, but it will be good in the long run. Not only are you teaching them how to help out around the house, but you are also getting a little extra help around the house. Win-win for everyone!

There are a few things to keep in mind. It will take extra time. It won’t actually be clean when they are done. If the toddler hasn’t gone through the sensitive period for order, they may not exactly understand the process of cleaning for a while. It may be frustrating. But toddlers will love feeling included and helpful. And the more they feel that way, the more motivated they will be to continue helping you out. So here is a list of four simple ways toddlers can help clean.

Dusting

Mac loves to take a wet washcloth and wipe down surfaces in our house, like bookshelves, the coffee table, or her own little table. Sometimes I will direct her to another place, which also helps her learn how to listen and follow directions. She has her own spray bottle of water, but isn’t quite able work it yet. So for now I will spray the table and she wipes it up.

helping clean