The COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated long term school closures around the globe. Has your Montessori school been affected? If so, you may be wondering how to continue meeting your preschoolers’ educational needs while staying aligned with Montessori principles and also juggling your own work demands.
We are in uncharted waters here, but we can navigate it together. Montessori teachers have learned how to incorporate Montessori into their lives and you can, too. Now that your children will be home with you, it’s the perfect time to really engage with the process of making your home more “Montessori”.
This does not mean that you need to formalize “school” in your house. In fact, you do not need to have “Montessori materials” to make your home Montessori. On the contrary, a true Montessori school is designed so that the Children’s House (a Montessori 3-6 classroom) can run without an adult directing the children’s every move.
And, believe me, you do not need to, indeed nor should you, entertain or teach your child all day every day.
Let’s Do This Together
Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing articles and resources to help you do Montessori at home.
We invite you to join the free Facebook discussion group we have created to support parents like you through this unprecedented time. We will work with you to create a space in your home so that children can make decisions on their own.
Our intent is not to have you become a Montessori teacher. You are already the most influential teacher your child has. Our intent is to support you in this new journey of educating your child during these temporary school closures.
How Much Teaching Should You Do?
If you already have a child in Montessori school, the suggestions we offer will not be new to them. They go to school every day and after greeting their teacher, they work for three hours with little direction from adults. Now, of course different children require different levels of engagement, but even 3 year olds can fill their day when provided a space designed to give them the opportunity to engage with purposeful activity. And remember, the whole world is a classroom. You need not spend all day inside. If you have an enclosed backyard, take the children outside to learn. They are scientists and every experience is building their brain, indoors or out.
What to Expect
In the forthcoming articles we will discuss what to do if you are working from home, what to do if you are a person who is not working from home but are caring for your children at home, and simple activities to include in your day.
- We will go over some building blocks to help you learn to apply the philosophy at home.
- We will walk through setting up spaces, and what items or materials you might want to have available. Most of these items you will already have on hand either in use or possibly stored away somewhere in the house.
- We will not be using traditional Montessori materials. They aren’t necessary!
Really the first thing you can do is relax!
Ultimately, your child needs you and not lessons. While we will set up Montessori at home please know there is no magic dust. It is more of a mindset and learning to see what you do every day with new eyes. Guess what research says offers the best academic outcomes across the board from small children through high school? The answer: eating together, reading to children, and play. On top of that the AAP recommends 90-120 minutes per day of outdoor unstructured play time. Many children do not get anywhere close to that. So, in times of stress just do those three things.
A Note on Technology
You may be wondering how to entertain your children without relying on technology. We know the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) has important guidelines for tech usage by age (see resources). Over the next few weeks we will share some ways you might integrate tech into this time occasionally but not as a primary source of entertainment. (And ok, there may be a few examples of “Montessori approved” technology that are within the AAP guidelines.)
Jana Morgan Herman
I’m Jana Morgan Herman. I have been in Montessori for almost 30 years, as a parent, teacher, and teacher trainer. My own children started in Montessori at 18 months and attended Montessori through high school. I was a classroom teacher for most of that time and for the last 5 years have been a school director. I hold 2.5-6 credential from American Montessori Society (AMS), RIE 1 from RuthAnne Hammond and Deborah Greenwald, and a Masters in Montessori education. I homeschooled my children for several years and integrated Montessori principles during that time before working in both private and public Montessori schools.
You can do this. I believe in you.
Relax. Take a breath. Let’s set sail.