Nov 19 , 2022

6 Common Misconceptions about Montessori at Home

This week, I'm dispelling some widespread myths regarding Montessori's early years. I bring up these myths because I see individuals disparage Montessori far too frequently for nonexistent justifications. I firmly think that every family should select the parenting style that suits them the best, but I do hope that everyone is properly informed about their options before making a decision. I hope that this clarifies some of the contentious Montessori issues from the early years.

1. Children have total freedom
True, a core tenant of Montessori is independence. Making our houses accessible and giving the youngest children options fosters their aptitude, self-assurance, and drive. We do, however, grant our kids independence within defined, secure boundaries and in developmentally appropriate ways. We refer to this as freedom within bounds. We give options and lay out precise boundaries. Young children desire regularity, assurance that people are in charge, and a secure environment. They experiment to determine what is and is not acceptable until they feel they can once again predict their surroundings when they receive conflicting information.

A freedom might be how much to eat when you eat. There are some restrictions, such as the need that we eat while seated and that adults select the menu. Selecting which books to read before bed is a form of independence. We are only allowed to read three novels. Running and playing as loudly as they want is considered freedom. That kind of jogging and playing takes place at a limit (outside).

2. The Montessori method's most crucial component is the shelf.
Although it could seem from online research that the Montessori methods we use at home are primarily focused on the things on our shelves, this is untrue. The shelf does not sum up Montessori.

You are the most significant component of your environment. In everything we do in Montessori, the first step is preparing yourself. More influential than anything on their shelves is how we speak to, act toward, and interact with our children.

The Montessori method emphasizes using all of our senses while learning. It involves learning via physical activity, learning with our hands, and, most importantly, learning about and in the breathtaking natural environment in which we live. The natural world is the richest learning environment we can provide for our kids, not the bookshelf at home.

3. Our kids eat and play by themselves.
While we do recommend weaning babies and young children to solid foods at a tiny table, we do not recommend eating by yourself. A tiny table lowers tossing and dropping behaviors since there is less distance for food to fall and promotes independence by making it easier to get in and out of the chair. The weaning table gives toddlers a chance to arrange their own table and serve themselves a snack. But our infants and young children are not by themselves in this room. Normally, we join them by sitting on the floor or on a tiny cushion. For family dinners and other meals, we frequently use a high chair that draws right up to our kitchen or dining table.

In a similar vein, it is true that we support independent play since it helps our kids focus, solve problems, be creative, and pursue their own interests. But time spent with others always serves as a counterbalance. Frequently, we converse with children while they play independently while we are seated right next to them. They look to us for advice, explanations, and conversation. We also spend meaningful time with kids while they go through transitions, such as changing diapers or using the restroom, getting dressed, cooking, and cleaning. Although it's not always evident in the pictures, Montessori emphasizes 

4. No pretend play is permitted
Even if it is true that daydreaming is discouraged in the early years, pretend play is not.

The preference for realism over fantasy may give the impression that pretend play is discouraged. In Montessori, we support hands-on activities that expose kids to their surroundings and provide them with a variety of sensory experiences. We also favor reading materials and publications that are grounded in truth. Young children gain a sense of amazement for the world we live in when they read stories that describe genuine places, people, and animals. Books that are based on actual events aid in explaining the already enormous world we live in.

Young children construct scenes on their own when we allow them take the lead in pretend play. They perceive similar scenes in their books and in the real world. They can test out new experiences and work through old ones through pretend play. Young children's pretend play only gets richer and more enjoyable when we expose them to everything the actual world has to offer. Pretend play can involve dollhouses on occasion, or it can involve becoming creative with the items already on the shelves.

5. Montessori Kids Lack Social Skills
It is true that Montessori does not require children to share. Furthermore, they are not compelled to play with others. Instead, we let the kid choose whether to play by themselves or with other kids. In a Montessori classroom, opportunities for both are constantly present. We serve as examples of compassion and charity. We provide kids the chance to work together and settle disputes on their own.

When kids are still toddlers, the social aspect is frequently brought up. Toddlers are not yet sociable creatures. Although toddlers like being near people, particularly family members, they generally play in parallel with one another rather than with other children. Children don't share common aims in their play until around age 4. Our expectations of children's social play can be tailored to reflect regular social development, allowing them to take the initiative.

6. Kids are required to perform chores
People occasionally assume that children are being forced to perform things when they witness young children sweeping the floor or toddlers cleaning windows. Instead, we teach others how to clean up and incorporate it into our regular routines. Young children are really interested in becoming a part of it. Even the tiniest toddlers are welcome to observe us as we go about our daily chores in the Montessori method. When toddlers are allowed to participate in these crucial tasks, they feel appreciated and helpful.

As kids enter the preschool years, we do urge them to clean up after themselves, such as wiping up spills. The objective is to create a sense of personal responsibility, care for our shared environment, and learning to cooperate as a family or community rather than to "make children clean." We set an example for one another and assist one another when necessary.

I hope it clarifies a few of the most frequent myths about Montessori that I encounter at home in the first few years. In every household and with every family, Montessori looks different. Figure out what works for you!

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