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Montessori Approach to Parenting

Updated: Dec 29, 2023



Montessori is a way of life and provides parents a guiding light in their journey of growth and learning with their child. Parents need to prepare themselves to offer their child the appropriate environment at home which is conducive to their needs. The attitude a parent develops and how they conduct themselves is at the heart of Montessori approach to parenting.


Below are some excerpts from a long blogpost written by Pia Sukanya (a film director and homeschooling parent) who has been practicing Montessori philosophy in her homeschooling journey with her son.


"Montessori at home seems to go hand in hand with ‘respectful parenting’ and ‘positive discipline’ and I try to practice both as much as I can, especially when we get into resistant toddler mode. It’s not all flowing and rosy as my narrative may appear, he’s two after all, and I hear plenty of ‘no’ during the course of a day. And sometimes I default to impatient parenting. But never to threatening or bribing. I don’t qualify behaviour as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Because when my toddler is having a meltdown, he’s not choosing to behave badly, he’s having a hard time. That’s the moment — at my wit’s end — when I have to learn to love and help him even more. Get down on the floor, look him in the eye, and say: “I can see you’re having a hard time, how can I help you?” That’s actually when he needs a loving compassionate parent. It’s very hard to do and it takes a lot of practice and patience. On days I fail to do this, or yell, I apologise to him later. So much of it is unlearning default ways of parenting for me. I’m learning to let go and flow with the mood and day. I’m learning to say less “no, don’t do that!” and more “can you try this instead?”


In actuality, our home is Montessori in philosophy rather than structure, and Edi chooses what he wants to do, learn, wear each day, if he needs a nap or not. I always offer a manageable amount of options for anything — 2–3 is great for a toddler. When he took out two shirts from his cupboard, his father asked, “So Edi, which one do you want to wear?” “These are options dada” he replied, using the word ‘options’ for the first time. The ‘options’ gives him a sense of control over his own life — what in Montessori is called ‘freedom within limits’. He gets to be an explorer in his world, who is capable of ‘doing it himself’. There are plenty of times he doesn’t want to do it himself and so it’s never to force independence but merely to make space for when the child asks to do it themselves. We have a daily rhythm (not a schedule) and when we adhere to it, he flows wonderfully through the day. There are hard days too when things don’t flow as well, but that’s generally when we break from the rhythm, and then it all gets too hyperactive. We talk about feelings regularly. I asked him recently why he didn’t yet want to feed himself at most mealtimes. He said quietly, “Because Edi will make a mess”. I wondered what associations we had established in his impressionable mind to create that fear in him. “Make a mess if you need to, that’s how we learn”, I try to reinforce. And very slowly, I can sense a shift emerging from that conversation. Some mess is finally being made.


 

To read her entire blogpost, where she has chronicled a week in the life of her toddler who is being homeschooled the Montessori way, please click here.



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