May 10, 2017
Often people ask me, “So, what is ‘Montessori’?”
Usually I start with: “Montessori is just…plain…common sense. The Montessori approach connects with what children want and need, and it lays a strong foundation for life. …”
…but usually I don’t get that far (for fear that their eyes will glaze over!)
So I’ve been thinking quite a while about how to answer this question “What is Montessori?”
I thought the best way to answer the question is for you to see it in action.
When people see my daughters doing their thing, they get it: Montessori just works. What people also notice right away is how involved the girls are in every part of daily life – they are doing everything they can do by themselves.
Before we dive in, let’s be clear about “What’s the point? – why have I chosen this approach in our daily life?”
It’s all about asking yourself ‘what do I want for my children?’ For me, I wish for my children to be independent and confident. As you look into this day in our lives, you will be able to see how I support that goal.
Everyone’s routine will be unique – maybe you’re not a stay-at-home or work-from-home parent…maybe a caregiver helps out…
Regardless of your situation, the concepts can be applied to your unique situation.
So, come along with me to see what “A Day in the Life” in our Montessori home looks like.
* In case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a tour of our Montessori Home Set-Up – the setting for “A Day in the Life”…
We’ll start with the Top 9 Montessori Ideas that Guide our Daily Life:
- Remember that your child is a sponge.
- Hands-on learning is better
- Demonstrate how to do an activity.
- Provide child-size things (they are not as big as you)
- Protect their concentration
- Allow freedom while maintaining safety
- Consistency with routines and boundaries
- Set up the space
- Have fun!
Our Day on March 17, 2017
(Emily age 3, Chelyn age 9)
6:53am – Quick Check
…I verify that everything is ready to start. This is quick because things are already set up from our family “House Sweep” the night before – I’m just checking little details like verifying there are enough Cheerios and nuts (or whichever snacks) are available and water in the pitcher for Emily to serve herself when she wants a snack.
(#8: Set up the space – having things set up makes the whole day go better.)
7:00am – Start the Day
The alarm goes off in my daughters’ bedroom (they share a bedroom). They get up, brush teeth, make their bed, get dressed, and brush their hair – all independently. The best part is: I’m downstairs responding to emails with parent questions that came in yesterday – the girls handle this part of their day independently.
(#7: Consistency with routines – same routine every day.)
7:25am – Breakfast Time!
We’re having bagels and fresh OJ this morning. Emily starts every morning by putting on her apron and juicing her own OJ (child-size prep materials waiting on the shelf– Chelyn helps to get the final drops). Dishes and utensils are stored within easy reach so they can get what they need on their own. They use the toaster to make their bagels.
(#4: Provide child-size things – the utensils are designed for small hands.)
8:05am – Off to Drop Chelyn at School
The hall closet by the door has coats and shoes within easy reach, so the girls can get themselves ready. Along our drive to school, Emily’s mind is always full of questions which leads to interesting conversations. After we say goodbye to Chelyn, Emily and I head back home.
(#1: Remember that your child is a sponge – soaking everything in all the time.)
8:30am – Back at Home to Settle into the Day
Emily and I are back at home, and before we dive into our work, we take a moment to prepare our space: Emily wets the sponge for the painting work, fills the water pitcher for her snack, feeds the fish, puts the clean silverware in the dishwasher away…and anything else she can do on her own. I take the lids off the paint at the easel (too tight and tricky for small hands). This is a perfect time to show her how to do a new activity if I put out something new.
(#3: Demonstrate how to do an activity – if there’s something new, I show how.)
9:15 am – Work Time
Emily and I both start our work: I make Montessori Mobiles while Emily chooses from a variety of activities. She has books, artwork, yoga cards, puzzles, etc. – all in easy-to-handle baskets and trays that make it a cinch for her to clean up and put things away by herself. Emily is using language more and more each day, so I make sure that the work I do during this time allows me to interact with her and answer her questions and stay productive at the same time; however, I make a point of not interrupting her train of thought and concentration while she is working.
**A sanity-saver for me is having the kitchen set up so when Emily is feeling hungry for a snack, she can prepare it herself along with a drink of water. Remember my last post about a drinking station? Her snack time is a full 30 minutes of alone-productive time for me!
(#5: Protect their concentration – I don’t interrupt her.)
12:00 pm – Lunch Time
Emily is a great sous chef – she is right there with me, helping to prepare a simple meal. Thanks again to the accessibility of the utensils, she sets the table and washes the fruit while I got the sandwiches ready for assembly. When we’re done, Emily scrapes her plate and helps me to load the dishwasher.
(#2: Hands-on learning is better – she loves being involved.)
12:45 pm – Afternoon
After lunch, we either do some housekeeping, take a walk outside, or having some nice together time working on an activity. Today she got out the big floor puzzle with musical instruments and worked on it. While Emily is engaged nearby, I finish the mobiles that need to be shipped out today.
(#8: Have fun – we choose activities that we enjoy.)
2:00 pm – Quiet time
Emily doesn’t nap, so this is a key time for me to have a breather – even if it’s only 15 minutes, it’s needed.
I get to choose something that I need – today I just sat and rested. Emily knows it’s mommy time alone. I see she is playing with her instruments.
(#6 Allow freedom while maintaining safety – Emily can choose what to do while I choose what I need.)
2:50 pm – Time to pick up Chelyn!
After we come back from school, Chelyn does a few responsibilities including washing dishes from her lunchbox and washing fruit for tomorrow’s lunchbox. Chelyn usually does her piano practice during this time while Emily listens.
(#7: Consistency with routines and boundaries – this happens every day.)
3:30 pm – Quality Time
After school, I get some nice one-on-one time to talk to Chelyn and spend some time with her: we grab a snack, and she tells me about her research project on Hawaii (her group has now finished 101 note cards!). Emily is drawing nearby – she’s really in to drawing people these days, so I introduce her to the word “portrait.” I make a mental note: I’ll set up a portrait drawing activity for tomorrow – just collect a hand mirror, a pencil, and paper on a tray.
(#6 Allow freedom – she gets to pursue her interests.)
4:30 pm – My Alone Time, and Sister-Sister Time
Given the age of my kids (ages 3 and 9), they can be together upstairs while I am downstairs working or relaxing – they know this is “Mommy’s Time.” The upstairs space has activities for them to choose (drawing, blocks, etc.).
(#7: Consistency with routines and boundaries – no surprises!)
5:30 pm – Dinner Prep and Dinner
I start preparing in the kitchen (upstairs), and as they finish their activity, they join in the preparation – aprons and child-size tools are available. Thanks to the Learning Tower (stool), Emily is an active kitchen helper. Emily loves setting the table and pouring the water, while Chelyn helps with more complex tasks. Dinner time! We have this great highchair where Emily can get in and out on her own. When dinner is over, the girls scrape their dishes and help to load the dishwasher, and Emily cleans the table with a sponge. Chelyn uses this time to prepare her lunch for the next day. The fact that she does this all by herself is a huge bonus for me.
(#2: Hands-on learning is better – they love being involved)
7:00 pm – House Sweep!
How do we keep everything organized? Every night we use this time to tidy up the house from the top to bottom. We call it HOUSE SWEEP. We simply walk around the house to make sure everything is picked up. Having the whole family involved makes the job fast and fun.
(#8: Set up the space – this is quick because the house is already set up)
7:12 pm – Getting Ready for Bed
The girls take showers – Emily needs my support, and Chelyn can handle it on her own. Their towels are on low hooks, and night clothes are within easy reach, so they can get ready for bed. Chelyn reads Emily a book – they select one from the basket in the bedroom. Keeping the books in rotation is a key part of my job – at all times, we have 15+ books in active rotation and within reach around the house in various places.
(#4: Provide child-size things – they can reach and put away their own towels)
8:00 pm – Bedtime
This is my story time. I read one book to Emily and Chelyn in Korean. When I’m done, Chelyn sets their alarm for the next day. Emily always wants one more book, but I stick to one book: the children test limits all the time and consistency keeps things simple. Now they are off to sleep!
(#7: Consistency with routines and boundaries – they can relax knowing what is coming)
That’s a sample day – we adjust if we have a special guest (my mom / Emily’s grandmother) for lunch, or if we run and errand together. Certain parts of the day (regular meal times with family and bedtime) remain the same regardless.
So now, you might be thinking:
- “That’s impossible – we can’t do that…” or
- “That’s kind of familiar…” or
- “Sounds nice, but how can we pull it off?”
I’ve got good news…
We’re here to help. We’ve provided simple low-budget steps in our Montessori Home Set-Up E-Course.
This program is a way to get a closer to your wishes into reality in steps 1.2.3 that result in ease and peace.
So you can go on with other thing in life without regret or guilt.
Learn more about the E-Course here