Transcript: Encouraging Your Little One’s Learning Using the Montessori Method

This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Encouraging Your Little One’s Learning Using the Montessori Method and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.

If you’ve listened to First Time Mum’s Chat for some time now, you’ve probably gathered that I’m a huge fan of all things holistic and natural. Being raised on a farm in a fairly remote area of Scotland before we had such luxuries and distractions as computers, smartphones, and the internet, encouraged me to create my own fun and activities.

During my many years as a childcare educator, I’ve always tried to draw on this and encourage the infants I’ve worked with to also develop their own imagination and activities. Over the years, this has become increasingly challenging. There is so much competing for our kids’ attention spans today isn’t there! Whether it’s advertising or television or the internet or social media, the list goes on and on and on.

It has been my observation that with so much content on offer, many infants and parents are losing the ability to stimulate and build their own imagination. This is hardly surprising when smartphones are so accessible and easily available to infants at an early age. I encourage you to limit your child’s access to these devices and encourage them to develop their own imagination instead of drawing on others.

During my years as a child care educator. I’ve always been fascinated by the Montessori approach and how it differs from mainstream childcare. In this episode, I’m exploring the world of Montessori, since I feel it has so much to offer your little one, whether they be an infant, toddler or older child.

But first a brief background, Montessori was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. It is a specific child-centred method of education that involves child led activities (referred to as “work”), classrooms with children of varying ages and teachers who encourage independence among their pupils. It is designed around helping the child to find his or her best suited learning process and it is based on seven principles. I’ve included a link in the show notes to further information on each of these principles if you want to find out more.

Dr. Montessori believed that education should prepare a person for all aspects of their life, which led her to designing materials, toys, and techniques that would promote natural learning. These were all designed to encourage children to learn to be independent. This of course encourages the development of self confidence and resilience.

One aspect of Montessori that I have a lot of respect for, is that it encourages child learning through trial and error by allowing them to play and experiment with real equipment. So for example, if I was putting together an activity around meals and use of cutlery and plates, instead of simply using the plastic stuff that is often used, I might use cutlery that is metallic and similar to real cutlery, and I would provide real plates. And if a child breaks them, well so be it, it is all part of the learning. I would ensure that the cutlery has no sharp blades, to ensure safety at all times, but I would always supervise the child and encourage them to cut and learn.

When I was in the early stages of my child care educator career, I believed that it was my role to guide the infants in my care and tell them what to do. It never occurred to me to ask the child what they wanted to do. However, my thoughts have changed a lot over the years and I’ve learnt to encourage children to be independent and play with the toys they enjoy playing with and to let them learn through play.

I’ve noticed that children become more independent when they’re given the opportunity to play using their own imagination. I’ve also noticed an increasing interest in wanting to learn about their environment, which is also important. And I like the fact that the Montessori teachings encourage children to be more environmentally conscious and aware. After all, this is what the Montessori Method is basically all about.

In a world where we’re constantly reminded of issues such as global warming, rising ocean levels and the alarming amount of plastics in our oceans, which is killing our ocean life, being more environmentally aware from an early age is one of life’s musts, don’t you agree? I’m a big believer in providing infants and young children with wooden toys instead of the often used plastic variety for a number of reasons.

These include:-

* They are made from soft, natural material, which is durable, generally having a longer life than plastic.

* They are great for the environment, biodegradable and in some instances made from sustainable wood. What a great way to encourage your little one from an early age to be environmentally aware!

* They are free from the chemicals that are used to form plastic and more natural for infants to play with.

* And they can develop their own imagination and feel the natural touch, it develops their sense of smell and it develops their sense of touch and so much more.

There are wooden toys readily available, including puzzles and building blocks, that I have always found invaluable when helping children with their numeracy, motor skills and problem solving. If you wish to purchase these toys, you can easily find them on the internet and to help, I’ve provided links in the show notes to the Montessori Generation online store.

I was particularly impressed with their Montessori story book that is designed to develop your little one’s attention, creativity, patience, and coordination. What a great way to create a link between learning and play, don’t you think? I was inspired as I watched a video of this in action and wow, what a fantastic opportunity for your little one to develop their imagination by creating their own story.

It comes with 16 educational Montessori activities and each page shows certain life tasks that our little ones face in order to better understand how the world around them works, in a fun, interesting and interactive way.

It basically enables them to put together their own story book, which I absolutely love because that creates their imagination, it helps them problem solve, it helps them to develop creativity. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them. One of the many things that I love about Montessori Generation is that it categorizes the products based on your little one’s age. So you can quickly find items for sale that are tailored for their age, wherever they are, between the ages of 1-5 and over and their free worldwide delivery makes it easily affordable. At the time of recording this podcast, a number of their products were 40% off.

Alternatively, if you are more of a do it yourself type, then why not make your own toys? One idea you could explore is making your own hanging mobiles and they are a great way for your infant to develop their concentration and visual focus. You could encourage them to paint some small tree branches and once dry hang things off them, such as CDs or pictures of your family or little teddy bears. There is so much you can do, the limit is your imagination.

You can also include your little one’s siblings. I mean, wouldn’t that be a great thing for one of your older children to help develop a special toy for their new baby when they arrive. Always ensure though that the mobile is hung above your little one’s chest and not on their face for safety reasons and don’t leave them unsupervised at any time, it’s really important. If you are looking for ideas or inspiration, then I highly recommend checking out Montessori On a Budget on Instagram. They have a great range of Montessori projects, which are easy to do and suitable for a range of ages. And I really, really love looking at how she inspires parents to make fun toys and have a fun time with their kids.

A Quick glance at their page, just now included:-

* Activities to promote logical thinking,

* Easy handwriting exercises,

* Promoting concentration,

* Teaching your child to learn a new skill in a fun and interactive way, and

* Getting the children involved in activities, so they can learn to be more creative.

I’ll include a link to them in the show notes.

Well, I hope this episode has given you an appetite for Montessori and the wonderful ways it can prepare your little one for their journey.

I’ve included links to everything mentioned in this episode, in the show notes, which can be accessed at