did you see my stories this weekend about montessori at home for our family? i had so much feedback about this post, so i thought since i didn't want to record it again in video form, it may make sense to lay it out as a reference-able blog post.
montessori at home, for us, is pretty relaxed and limited to 2 priorities, outdoor time and household tasks. theo is in a montessori education full time, so he is spending lots of time working with traditional montessori teachers, materials, shelf work, and exploring space in his classroom. we do have shelf work at home that's always available for him, and i do rotate it out bi-weekly or whenever i see fit. but we don't do a lot of structured montessori work time at home.
montessori, at home or at a school or program, focuses on outdoor time and working on life skills and independence.
before we had theo, mike and i had talked at length about what our lifestyle would be when he came, and what our family priorities were and i'm so thankful that we've stuck with so many of those priorities (partially thanks to pandemic parenting!). we liked being outside so much in 2021 that we've set new goals this year to spend 2022 hours outside in 2022, and we've, in the last year, made more space and time available for theo to help with jobs around the house like prepping meals, bringing in garbage containers, shoveling and raking, gardening and watering, laundry, tidying up, and organizing/resetting for the next week.
i made some infographics below just for easier reading about the benefits of outdoor time and some examples of how to involve older babies, toddlers or children in household tasks.
1. benefits of outdoor time
we've seen incredible skills develop in theo through a love for the outdoors. in the summer and fall, it's hard for him to be inside, and this may be just who he is from birth, and it may be exposure from a young age to spending lots of time outside, and it may also be that we continue fostering and making space in our lifestyle for outdoor time.
either way, being outdoors helps all of our moods, and allows for the building blocks of so many life skills. we spent a lot of time in the last 2 years on trails and at conservation areas, in backyards, at parks, and on walks. we've had picnics, and done household tasks outside, and played cars outside, and gone to the playground, and all of these experiences offer different things, but most importantly, opportunities for learning and play that benefit the whole family.
being outdoors offers learning that being indoors can't replicate. nature is wonderful sensory play, and grass, rocks, dirt, leaves, sticks, trees, bugs, all provide opportunities for sensory play without having to bring these items inside or contain them in bins.
being outdoors allows for freedom of movement which is critical for babies and toddlers. we tend to prefer trails where we don't have to worry as much about traffic and can let theo lead the way safely. we always bring the wagon on longer walks incase he gets tired and then he can get in, get out, etc, as he chooses. we have the incredible veer cruiser stroller wagon and i wrote a whole post about it here.
being outdoors allows for experiential learning about the weather, and elements like wind, snow, and cold or wet and humid simultaneously. and therefore, it also allows for learning opportunities about appropriate clothing for the weather.
i could write a whole post about this quote alone, but alfred wainwright wrote "there is no bad weather, only bad clothing". and we live by this philosophy.
we go outside nearly every day. the only limits we've set are in cold alerts when its like it is this weekend, minus 15 or colder, where we tend not to go outside much, and limit the time outdoors on really hot days, above 30 Celsius or warmer. but other than those safety minded limits, we have been teaching theo about appropriate clothing for varying weather and he knows in the winter about wearing snowpants, boots, jacket, hat and mitts, or in the summer wearing sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat, for example.
through learning about the weather and clothing, theo has opportunities to practice dressing and undressing, finding matching shoes and socks, putting on his own gloves and boots, and other motor skills that will help his independence.
as mentioned above, theo helps with all kinds of household tasks, from laundry, to filling up the keurig holder, and replacing toilet paper in the bathrooms, to vacumming. originally, mike and i used to think that doing chores with him there was a waste of his play time, and wasn't allowing him to have our full attention, but as time has moved forward, we've realized how much he loves to help, and he takes initiative to clean up, and reminds us of household tasks.
the main question i've had about this, is "but doesn't it take three times as long", OF COURSE IT DOES. sometimes this is awesome (pandemic parents trying to fill time, where you at?) and sometimes its hard to commit to, and would be easier to do it yourself.
i made a simple list of some indoor and outdoor tasks that you could try to have your children help with if trying to adopt more life-skill based activities at home. in my experience, kids really love helping, and to feel that they are needed, valuable members of the family.
i hope this post has helped if your family is exploring montessori at home, and these really are the two best places to start with montessori. the shelves full of nice wooden toys and materials are so tempting as a place to start, but they just don't offer the full picture, and they can be really cost-prohibitive, unlike all the FREE activities i've outlined above.
hoping to do more blogs focused on montessori practice since it seems to be why some of you follow me and are here at all :) stay tuned.