By contributing writer, Molly Madonna Kehrer
I am not a Montessori methods expert by any means, but I have worked in a Montessori classroom, and I have watched young minds transform at their own pace in a beautiful way in that setting.
The Montessori environment taught me a very valuable lesson in the capability of young children to do anything they set their minds to, especially when the safety of reasonable boundaries and discipline are present to gently instruct and guide.
I worked in a Montessori school before having a family of my own, but after years of baby-sitting and nannying for many wonderful children and families. Although I had always loved kids and found them to be engaging, articulate and full of life, I had not associated small children with a limitless capacity to learn, absorb and create independently.
Most of my work with children up to that point had been very adult-directed, in a way that I did not find in a Montessori setting.
I was amazed at first, when I realized that children as young as two and three years old were making autonomous decisions and calculations in the Montessori classroom. I had grossly underestimated the abilities of these young ones for a very practical reason—I just hadn’t been exposed to a setting quite so conducive to independent growth and learning ever before.
As I entered into motherhood and began recognizing the developmental capacities of my own children, my time in a Montessori environment shaped my approach to my family’s learning.
It also increased my confidence in my children’s abilities to communicate, to self-direct in a play or “work” setting, and to move beyond societal expectations of their development, instead waiting and watching to see where and how they flourished in their own timing and direction.
My eldest is now five, and he is nearing the end of his second year of school. We have chosen his current learning environment on the basis of a number of factors, including access to language immersion programming, a faith component, and the focus on nurturing young minds to grow and serve the world in their passions and strengths.
Our son’s classroom is not a Montessori setting, although some Montessori methods are certainly evident in his learning environment.
Because our son very definitely thrives when working at his own pace, and because he prefers to focus on one task or project independently and for great lengths of time, I have no doubt he would benefit from a Montessori approach to learning.
As such, I am doing my best to adequately educate myself, so that I can foster a hospitable learning and working environment for him here at home. This trickle down is a benefit to our younger daughter, who also thrives when she is able to focus at length on a “work” of her choosing.
Although we have not pursued a Montessori education for our children in a classroom setting to date, we certainly see the benefits of taking a Montessori-based approach in our efforts to nurture our children’s minds at home.
So how do we go about doing this without proper training in Montessori techniques and practices?
As it turns out, there are an incredible number of Montessori resources available for anyone wanting to take the time to learn more. Just as quickly as you can Google “Montessori resources,” you’re inundated with information that might, at first, seem daunting and over-abundant.
For this reason, I asked my mom (who has owned and operated a Montessori school for the past eight and half years) to share some her favorite resources with me.
With the help of one of her teachers, she compiled a comprehensive list that is a great place to start (and a wealth of information) for anyone wanting to better understand Montessori methods and/or to employ them in their home or a classroom setting.
I’ve spent time pouring over these sites and reading insightful thoughts on child development to my heart’s content. There’s more here than I could digest in a short period of time, but plenty to get me started and even more to feed from when I need resources in the future.
Montessori books and websites:
- I love that Maria Montessori developed her methods and concepts by simply observing children doing what they do best: achieving work, development and a sense of self through play and everyday life. You can download Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook, as well as The Montessori Method and other related publications for free at this site.
- This book, by David Gettman, makes Montessori methods and philosophies more accessible to those beginning to apply Montessori concepts to children under five.
- Whether or not you’re up for tackling an entire book on the subject right now, there are plenty of places to glean from in shorter hand as you begin to grow or enhance your Montessori knowledge. I absolutely love this breakdown of the Laws or Principles of Childhood. It’s a must read for just about anyone because it explains so much as we think about our children’s development (and their stumbling blocks too!). I only wish I’d read it sooner!
- As you grow your Montessori tool kit and your excitement to apply it grows, too, The American Montessori Society provides great, basic information on how to incorporate Montessori into the home.
- From here, I’ve just found so many blogs and websites that feel helpful to share for one reason or another as you go: The Little List has great links to subject albums as well as scope and sequencing information. For more scope and sequencing help, I like this list from Our Montessori Story.
- Montessori for Learning is an endless resource for subject-specific (paid or subscription-based) downloads and a host of free downloads as well.
Blogs written by homeschooling moms using the Montessori method all seem to boast helpful, practical, ready-to-apply information and tips that just might be invaluable to a newly Montessori-inspired mama. Check out:
- Montessori on a Budget
- Living Montessori Now
- Confessions of a Montessori Mom (She also offers a Montessori organizer for home planning, and the .pdf is just $5.99!)
Montessori Pinterest Boards
And, naturally, if you’re going to incorporate Montessori learning into your life and home, you’ll need great places for supplies and hands on tools along the way, yes? My favorites include:
After all of this, maybe you’re thinking, “I’ve already got this Montessori thing down. Been there, done that.” If so, awesome!
Please share your favorite resources in the comments below…I’d LOVE to know about them and share them with others.
And if you’re feeling a bit daunted by the floodgates of information that might open as you click on the links above, you are absolutely not alone. I’m right there with you.
But the more I learn, the more I want to learn, and I think it can truly be so fun to find ways to expand our children’s learning horizons—whether we homeschool, have our children in Montessori classrooms, or enroll our kiddos in other learning environments where they can flourish and thrive.
Best of luck to you as you pursue the very best resources for your family and their education. We’re all lifelong learners, really, if we choose to be.
What are your favorite educational methods?