by Sarah Riggle, Program Coordinator
The following are tips for parents on how to integrate the Montessori philosophy into your home life. This can become a part of a growth and independence mindset, a way to holistically raise your child that is rooted in respect and care. Keep in mind that “care” does not mean that your child always gets what they want; it means that you make sure your child has access to the safest and most enriching tools for learning and for becoming themselves. These concepts apply for all ages and areas of development of children.
Respect your child in every aspect of their life.
This is an exercise that should be familiar to all of us, whether or not we usually apply it to our own young children: Place yourself in their shoes. Why would they do such a thing? Why are they crying? It can be as simple as, ‘they woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning,’ which as adults we also experience from time to time. Give them the benefit of the doubt in the moment, and add extra hugs and add a little more joy in the next activity you share.
Respect that children have needs, as we do. It sounds obvious, but we often overlook the obvious: they have basic needs such as sustenance, comfort, and rest. Sometimes asking for our most basic needs can look like a refusal: if your child has an upset stomach, to avoid further discomfort, they will not want to eat. Like adults, they have social needs like positive interaction with others, being listened to, and being loved. Self-esteem, mental stimulation, and freedom round out their intrapersonal needs. The more you get to know your child’s personality, the easier it becomes to see how they ask for these needs to be fulfilled. You will also notice that many Montessori principles deliberately address these needs.
Being respectful to their needs can include teaching them respect and courtesy. One way of doing this is by setting good examples; be gracious and courteous to your children and to others as well. Practicing a concept is the best way for them to learn it deeply and permanently, so keep giving them chances to practice their manners. The respect that you and your child practice together (at home, at the doctor’s office, at family events) can extend from them to other children, to adults and to other living things as well. If we patiently and repeatedly teach them how to take care with people and things, they can genuinely learn that behavior and make it part of their being from a very young age.