How do you Raise a Montessori Child?

What's Covered

Raising a Montessori child involves the application of the ideas that Maria Montessori and the renowned Montessori movement came up with. This kind of parenting is a relaxed one whereby children are allowed to play freely, they are not punished for their mistakes, they are encouraged to give up the comfort of sleeping on their cribs to sleeping on the floor, among other things.

The main focus while raising a Montessori child is their need to learn through play and the child’s desire to take up responsibilities. Below are facts relating to Montessori parenting.

Positive discipline when raising a Montessori child

Positive discipline forms the heart of Montessori philosophy. A child is likened to an empty box and what you give in is what you get out. Therefore, it is important to fill the mind of a child with positive things as well as positive thinking. Excessive punishment will cause a child to suffer from withdrawal syndrome.

Too much disciplining makes a home appear as a prison in the eyes of a child.  Instead, you can consider setting boundaries for your child while observing them keenly until they adopt desirable and positive behaviors.

How then do you become a positive parent?

Communication

Proper communication with your child doesn’t mean trying to make them act in a particular way. Instead, it refers to guiding them into becoming greater communicators, kind people, peaceful beings, and effective handlers of conflict. This means that you know how to identify the right times for intervening and your communication skills during a conflict are top-notch.[1]

Here are several Montessori communication ideas that will guide you on how you should talk to your child and ensure they listen and respond:

  1. Identify and acknowledge feelings

A child is supposed to know that you understand their feelings in particular instances. For example, your child could be angry at another for taking their toys. For you to express that you know what has been done to your child and how they feel you can use such phrases as “I can see that you are angry. Did your big brother take away your toys?

Recognizing and responding to a child’s feelings changes their behavior.

  • Interpret experience

Make your child know that you understand them by explaining the conflicting experiences. For example, you can tell your young one that “it seems that both of you need the toys” instead of “your twin brother needs the toys”. The former gives an interpretation.

  • Mention the complaint again

When you mention a complaint that the child had earlier raised, you assure them that you heard them. For example, you would say “you said that your ball has a tear”.

  • Report an observation

“It seems like you want to watch your favorite movie but you haven’t taken shower yet”. Allow the child to process what you just said.

  • Ask questions

Ask such questions as “How is your toy broken?”, “why is it not working?”, “what next?”, etc.

Asking your child questions will activate their thinking and minimize stress and hence the brain will have ample space for solving challenges and arriving at decisions. Don’t give a solution to a problem to the child immediately. Give them time to think about it and figure out a probable solution. This will make a child feel capable of solving issues.

  • Wait for the answer

Don’t allow any distraction after you have asked a question.  Let your child not leave without answering. Don’t go to clean the dishes before you get the answer. If the child gets busy with other things, get him/her back to the situation and ask the question again.

  • Use a question to end a question

When you ask your child “will you share some of your toys with Michael?” if they say “No”, avoid stopping at that, proceed to ask a concluding question “when do you think you will be comfortable sharing the toys?”.

  • Model thinking

Adults are known to hold conversations with themselves loudly. Modeling thinking isn’t different. Mention something like this “I think Steve will return the books he stole from the library”. This will give the child a starting point of thinking about that issue.

  • Respect your child’s needs and wants

Avoid forcing your child to share their belongings. Children are not stingy; they can be generous once given the right atmosphere.

  1. Give room for decision making

Allow the child to own up to the problem. Avoid solving it for them. Provide guidance where necessary to solve an issue.

Conflict resolution

You can start early teaching your child ways of resolving conflicts.

Teaching your child how to communicate effectively can be challenging especially when disciplining is in the picture. Plus, when you want to teach your child how to get along with other people without forcing him/her to share their valuables.

The following are conflict resolution techniques that a parent or a caregiver can adopt to ensure that their young one is peaceful even amidst a crisis.

  • Have self-control in place. You can consider taking deep breaths which will help you to calm down and effectively solve a conflict.
  • Comfort your child when they have been hurt and include them while solving instances where they have hurt other children. “I can see that you have wounded Ken. What can you do to relieve his pain?”
  • Let the way you communicate to your child have a backing of a gentle touch
  • Ask curiosity questions. “what makes you think that the bicycle is irreparable?”
  • Redirecting your child toward another activity of value without ignoring the conflict
  • Forcing your child to share is improper. Instead, you can opt to use such questions as: when can Michael play with the toy?”, “How will Michael know that you are done playing with the toy?”
  • Set some time aside for teaching. Play together with your child their favorite games, have some time to re-visit some past challenging moments, read books together and seek out ways of teaching your child how to be kind to others
  • Recognize and appreciate good deeds or behavior daily. Keep a record of every good thing and make it accessible anytime.

The language of limits

Every child needs limits, the perfect kids are not excluded. They will always need to know that there is someone in charge. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to be an authoritarian, it is quite the opposite. This is what makes the Montessori way of parenting a bit tricky.

Ask any child and they will tell you that they desire gentleness on the part of the parent who is setting limits. In a nutshell, the parent sets boundaries and allows their child to freely operate within them.

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How to create set boundaries for your child:

  • Be objective and avoid being personal. “These books should be in the drawer” instead of “Put these books in the drawer for me”.
  • Positive discipline. “come over and help me with some chores” instead of “How many times do I have to keep telling you to stop praying with that doorknob?”
  • Provide a solution. “please pass the soup to John” instead of “Get out of the way for John”.
  • Be specific. “If you don’t fill the glass to the brim with water, it will be easy for you to carry it and you will not mess up the floor” rather than “don’t spill the water”.
  • Set rules together as a family.
  • Recognize emotions and feelings. “I can see anger written all over your face but I will not allow you to hit your sister” instead of “why are you yelling at your sister?” or “I know that you hate going out for parties, but socializing with people is important” instead of “You are fully grown now, you need relationships with people”.
  • Lead by example. “Good morning, I believe you had an awesome night” instead of “Can’t you even greet me?”

Teaching on how to seek forgiveness

A child who has been forced to apologize does it without sincerity since they will be doing it unwillingly. It is good to have the child apologize when they mean it.

The taste of love and logic

The goal here is to discipline the child in an environment characterized by both love and logic. This means that the child will operate within limits and be accountable without feeling unloved.

It is not easy for a parent to observe their child being accountable for their mistakes. For example, seeing your child sadly emptying their piggy bank to settle the damage they did on the widow will make your heart sink as well. However, allowing them to go through the process will be beneficial to both the child and the entire family in the long run.

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Here are some love and logic recommendations:

  • Maintain eye contact and valuable interactions during such crucial times like when they wake up or when they come back from school. Attach great value to those moments and let your child know that you are glad to see them.
  • Acknowledge every good deed they do. Let them know that they did well by lifting a friend who had fallen in the playground.
  • Avoid sarcasm for it is not well understood by young children. The child will feel that they are detached from you and hence they might feel confused whether they can count on you for any support or not.
  • Love them unconditionally. Love them through the good and bad. This might seem like an uphill task especially when they are extremely on the wrong side, but love is a powerful tool. Any other member of your family will also benefit from this. As they observe how unconditionally you are loving that child, they will feel more comfortable to be around you even in their imperfections.
  • Mitigate arguments. It will be a waste of time and energy urging with a young child since they can never see the facts behind it. Love and logic require that you seek ways of staying away from arguments.

Intervention when raising a Montessori child

As a parent, you would be tempted to solve any challenge that your child experiences. But according to the Montessori way of parenting, you are only required to help them solve and not solely solve for them. By this, you will be helping them to build the muscle for solving other challenges in their adulthood.

Here are some questions that you can ask your child before intervening in their complaint or the issues that they raise.

How do I help you?

This question will make the child pick out the exact part of an issue where they feel insufficient to handle and give it up to you. You will help the child when it is evident that it is truly needed, for example, financial or emotional help.

How do I support you?

Supporting a child means that you are believing their abilities. It means that you are supporting them based on what they already have.

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How did they respond?

You might have sent the young one to their elder sibling to be assisted to perform a task. The elder sibling might have declined the request and this will require your intervention. You can either choose to teach empathy or help with the task.

What better alternatives do you have for coping with anger?

Controlling a child whenever their anger is at the peak is challenging. But slowly with time, the anger can be managed. You can consider creating anger management tools such as a spinning wheel which they can be spinning whenever angry, a punching pillow, a quiet place in the garden, or you can teach them how to use words to express their anger instead of being physically violent when angry.

Do you remember the ground rules for this task?

Setting ground rules with the help of the children make complying easy. Whenever the child has an issue, you can always refer them to the rule relating to it.

Outdoor education when raising a Montessori child

One of the crucial cornerstones forming the Montessori movement is the appreciation and fostering of nature. Dr. Maria Montessori, who is the founder of this method, strongly emphasized the importance of integrating nature education with the routine learning plans for students. The goal of this kind of learning is to enable a child to appreciate the order, the beauty, and the harmony in nature.

As a parent, you can help your child develop a personal and close relationship with nature. You can give him/her exposure to the tree, bushes, and other landscaping features that will help them grasp this concept.

Below are some outdoor activities that will help your child be in harmony with nature.

Nature walks

Living in the urban areas won’t be a hindrance to having such walks, you can still explore your options on the places you can visit with your child for the task. You can also consider combining physical activities and learning about nature.

Give your child a list of natural items they are to pick during the walk. Give them a basket where they will be placing the items. Such items could be various types of stones, various types of leaves, and flowers. Allow your child to ask questions about the items they picked and provide the answers.

Older children can have an ecological focus during the walk. They can consider collecting litter or any recyclables while taking the nature walk. Talk to them about the importance of proper garbage disposal methods which will help them develop positive life skills.[2]

According to a survey published by Nils-Gerrit during the second quarter of the year 2019 in the United States, about 72 percent of the respondents reported that they had encouraged their children on working towards environmental sustainability.

Gardening

Children are soil lovers. They love seeing their hands become dirty while planting seeds and ensuring that their plants are healthy. It will be better if you can choose to grow plants that are both organic and edible. It will be fun for the child when you will finally turn them to meals or snacks after they have grown fully.

Depending on the type of climate, you can ask your child to choose the appropriate plants for that season. They can also plan the meals that will be prepared once the plants are harvested.

Gardening teaches children the art of patience, gardening skills as well as healthy eating habits.

Natural workplaces

Spending time outdoors doesn’t necessarily require you to be working on a particular project or some activities. During those seasons of favorable weather, you can allow the child to use the workspace outside to do their homework while enjoying the fresh air. 

Children are known to be happier and more productive while carrying out their work in a natural environment rather than behind the doors of a classroom or a study room at home.

In her teachings on a structured environment, Maria Montessori recommends freedom of movement within a warm and conducive atmosphere where your child can learn and socialize. A learning area that is out in the open, or one that recognizes the importance of nature, is the ideal place for your child to thrive in.

Creative outdoor Montessori language

One of the needs of a child once they have come to planet earth, is to learn a language. A parent or caregiver plays an active role in facilitating the development and enrichment of language to a child. Children learn to speak as early as possible when exposed to some language. On the other hand, reading and writing skills will require you to teach your child.

The environment plays a major role in the development of language in children. The following are some Outdoors Montessori language activities that you can help your child undertake:

  1. The art of conversation

Helping your child learn outdoors doesn’t have to be over planned or complicated. Take a walk with your child along the driveway or to the grocery store and have a conversation all along. Any detail around will birth a conversation. No detail is insignificant to a child. Be prepared to give answers to their questions and promise to research the questions you are unable to answer.

  • Storytelling in nature

Take your child out for an exploratory adventure. Ask them to pick several items on the journey. Examine the collected items and ask them to come up with a tale regarding each item. They can tell the tales orally or put them down in writing.

  • Tree life

Have the child identify a particular tree. Let them talk about it in terms of its features. Ask them to imagine the kind of a life the tree has had. What is the tree’s age? what has the tree witnessed during the entire period that it has been in existence?

  • Parts of speech hunt

Teach your child about parts of a speech. Give them a sample speech and let them hunt for the different parts of that speech. Have them identify the nouns, adjectives, prepositions, etc.[3]

  • Grain of sand

This is where you narrate to the child about the origin of a single grain of sand. It all starts from a boulder then to the grain of sand. Walk the journey with the child.

Peace education in raising a Montessori child

Teaching peace to children was something that was taken with a lot of seriousness by Maria Montessori. According to her, peace in early childhood exists on three levels i.e., Inner, Classroom, and Global.  

As a parent, you can introduce the following forms of peace education in your child’s life:

Natural light

The home should be well lit by the natural right for the peace of a Montessori child. You can also consider appreciating natural light by using contact paper to draw a rainbow and place it on the window. Sheets of cellophane can as well be used to color the windows to enable a child to view the world using various types of light.

Real plants in the environment

Include some real plants in the environment to ensure that Montessori peace is achieved. These plants will give the child exposure to nature. The child will watch the plants grow, take care of them and as a result develop a nourished spirit.

Practice gratitude

Gratitude plays a major role in Montessori peace education. One of the best moments to practice this habit is during dinner. Everyone at the table takes their turn to mention the things that they are grateful for in the day that just ended. They can also mention the people that made a positive impact in their lives during the day and be grateful for that.

Reducing waste

Too much trash becomes very harsh on planet earth. As a family, you can consider using re-usable items where possible such as washable napkins, recyclable bottles, etc.

Outdoor quite space

Create some space outside and within the compound. This is a place where the child will have plenty of fresh air. You can also consider making the place more comfortable by ensuring that there is a chair, a blanket whenever the weather is cold, and a roof.

The child should have their time alone here but you can still watch them but from a distance. The freely flowing air will help calm the child and make them have clear thoughts.

Other sources of peace include yoga, meditation, celebrations such as birthday parties, books that teach peace, magic box, peace rose, community, chimes, balls for feelings, peace pole, and so on.

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Resources for raising a Montessori child

The Montessori lifestyle begins way before a child steps their feet in a classroom. Some of the resources required for Montessori at home include Montessori toy recommendations, Montessori bathrooms, Montessori playroom ideas, and Montessori bedrooms.

Montessori toy recommendations

Montessori activities are affordable and don’t require too much of your time. These activities vary with the age of a child and are easily applicable at home. Below are some Montessori toy ideas for the young ones depending on their age.

Montessori infant toys

Maria Montessori had a strong belief that every child can reach their full potential on their own provided they are given the freedom and the right environment for natural development. Her priority was on the child and the way they develop naturally from birth. [4]

Some of the Montessori toys for an infant can be easily made at home with easily available materials.

  1. Tugging box

The materials required include a cardboard box, stripes or ribbons of various lengths, pencil, paint(optional), and sticky tape.

Puncture the box with some holes and help the child tie the ribbons on the holes.

  • Button in the slot

This is a simple activity. Use a recycled can that has a little opening at the top, a small enough opening for dropping in one button at a time. Provide your child with buttons. This activity helps in the development of the child’s fine motor skills, ability to differentiate colors and vocabulary (as they describe sounds and colors).

  • Sensory wall

The materials for this activity can be found in the local hardware.

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  • Tearing paper

You can use paper as a toy. The sounds that will be produced while tearing the papers and the fine motor skills involved are perfect simple activities for infants. You can provide your baby with different texture papers for them to differentiate the sound from each.

Montessori toys for one-year-olds

These include soft foam building blocks, rainbow stackers, sensory balls, wooden playhouse, play climb & slide, cylinder socket blocks, multiple shape puzzles, and magnetic wooden food.

Montessori bathrooms

The items that need to be present in a Montessori bathroom include a two-step stool to help the child reach any item beyond their height, bathroom storage organizer, some artwork, faucet extenders, light switch extender, nail brush for keeping the little fingers clean, soap dispenser, mirror, face cloth, and organic bathroom cleaners.

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Montessori playrooms

The spaces or environments created using the Montessori concept are beautiful. Their simplicity promotes peace and relaxation in a child.

A Montessori playroom is a peaceful and open place that naturally activates creativity and allows a child to play independently.

When designing a Montessori playroom for your child, it is important to keep in mind the kind of development benefits that will accrue to the child.

Here is what to consider when designing the playroom:

  1. A quiet space

A playroom has a variety of spaces to cope with boredom. But boredom is sometimes important as it gives the mind ample space to be creative as well as listen to themselves. The quiet place is for resting and for having some quiet time.

The quiet place can have such items as a floor bed that can also serve as a reading corner, playmats, pillow, and some reachable books.

  • Active space

Just like the quiet space, the active space encourages independent play as well as self-regulation. Your main goal here as a parent is to create a safe place where your child can enjoy playing on their own.

You can include such things as swings, balance beams, tunnels, pickler triangles, trapeze bars, and slides in the active space.

  • Child-sized everything

Remember to put in mind that the playroom is for a child, so keep theirs needs at heart while designing it. Most children love pictures and art just the same way as adults.

Unfortunately, when these items are placed so high in the room, your child might not see or get hold of them. Place them at low places on the walls for the child to view them easily. Since the main operation area of the child is on the ground as they crawl or try to stand, the art and the picture should not be far above the floor.

All the items in the playroom should be of a friendly size to the child. These include furniture, toys, etc.

Montessori bedrooms

A Montessori bedroom allows a child to sleep on the floor rather than on the crib. So, to start preparing the bedroom, place a mattress on the floor of the bedroom. This promotes exploration and easy movements. Through this, a child minimizes crying and gets a restful sleep.

Sleeping on the floor bed can begin at any age though a majority of Montessori parents start when their child is two months. During these first months, it is important to constantly monitor your child to ensure their safety.

Consider making each item in the bedroom child-sized.

To avoid so much activeness at night, place age-based and quiet toys in the bedroom. Such toys can include puzzles, blocks, soft toys, or even books.

Avoid chemicals while decorating the room. Instead, you can use natural materials.

Any mirrors or pictures should be hanged at a height easily accessible to the child.

Provide the room with natural light as well as make it possible to switch to darkness when required.

Final thoughts

Montessori is a lifestyle. Though the founder of this movement wrote broadly about it being an educational approach, her intention was not to limit the child to a classroom. Instead, Maria Montessori focused on the wholeness of a child whether they are at home with their family, at school, or while interacting with nature. The following books provide perfect insights for every parent raising a Montessori child: The Montessori Toddler, and How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way, 2nd Edition.


[1] McFarland, Sonnie, and Jim McFarland. “Montessori Parenting.” Montessori Life 1 (2013)

[2] GÜLEŞ, Figen. “Raising socially responsible individuals: Montessori education model.” The Online Journal of Science and Technology-January 6.1 (2016).

[3] Choe, Jinsun, Kamil, and William. “Children seem to know raising: Intervention effects in child language.” Proceedings of the 31st West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics. Cascadilla Proceedings Project, 2014.

[4] Davies, Simone. The Montessori Toddler: A Parent’s Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being. Workman Publishing, 2019.

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Author

Diana Lucas

Diana Lucas

Hi, Diana here. Welcome to my blog and hope you like my sharing. I am a mother of 2 boys, 3 years old and a 1 year old. I dedicate my career in child development research and I focus on parenting tips, positive parenting, educational toys for my babies. Your time here means a lot to me! Diana A. Lucas
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