I stumbled upon the Montessori method during my maternity leave while googling “what to do with a newborn while awake.” The books I read focused on sleeping and eating without much guidance on the awake periods.
Montessori introduced me to the idea of child’s work, as in, my child had work to do to grow up well, just like any other human. His work might seem simple — like staring at a mobile — but was important work and shouldn’t be interrupted.
I called my mom, she of the great wisdom and degree in child development. “Is this Montessori thing for real or some weird cult thing?” She assured me that it was evidence-based and respected, if not universally supported or followed.
Like anything else, there are pros and cons. Like any parenting philosophy, it’s appropriate for some families and not others.
Over the next few months, I slowly came around to many of the “crazy” Montessori ideas: child-accessible rooms, specific toys made of specific materials used during specific times, specific guidelines for clothing. The more I learned about my parenting style, the more I adopted from Montessori principles.
Don’t get me wrong, I deviate too. We don’t cloth diaper, a basic tenet of the Montessori personal care philosophy. My son went to daycare from ten months with nary a guilty thought on my part. Some times we eat Pizza Hut and we have more toys in his room than we probably should.
But the idea that a child – even a baby – is a young person with goals and work and specific mental and emotional needs resonates with me. The orientation of his environment to helping him progress along an arc of greater independence and respect for his body, mind and will… totally my thing. And the longevity of the philosophy, even if not 100% appropriate to everyone, even us, soothes me.
I will be blogging about how Montessori fits into our lives. I’m not a SAHM, we’re maybe not the kind of people you’d think would take an alternative approach like this, and we still give our kid access to the iPad and iPhone and wish he’d sit and watch a tv show. And yet, we stick fairly close to the spirit, if not the letter and I’d like to share that.
Is there anything in particular you’d like to hear about first? Toilet training? The alleged lack of toys? Floor beds?