How to Montessori on a Budget

You don’t have to be inherently creative or spend a lot of money for your young child to benefit from what a Montessori-inspired learning offers. You can apply the principles to act as a bridge on what children learn at school or just embrace it because it's a great way to connect to your child as a parent.

Personally, one of the key principles that really resonated with me as a parent is this:

"He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man's intelligence." ~ Absorbent Mind

In Montessori, children rarely learn from texts or workbooks. In all cases, direct personal hands-on contact with either real things or with concrete models that bring abstract concepts to life allow children to learn with much deeper understanding.

Children not only select their own work most of the time, but also continue to work with tasks, returning to continue their work over many weeks or months, until finally the work is “so easy for them” that they can teach it to others. As a mentor, this is really one of the ways to check on mastery - the ability to teach back what has been learned and there is no better way to learn anything than by experience, especially for children below 6 years old who are Concrete Thinkers.

Again, just remember THE PRINCIPLES and you can start by embracing just one, like MOVEMENT or INDEPENDENCE (and you can start with practical life activities). You can use whatever materials you have at home.

Here are some samples of what I prepared for Kara.

Do note that PRACTICAL LIFE ACTIVITIES must be demonstrated as it may not be intuitive (you need to show how to properly do the activity).

Also, I indicated the age that represent the SENSITIVE PERIODS to introduce these activities; some children can be sensitive much earlier 😁

It is the sensitive periods that direct the interest of the child, they become receptive to certain things and leave them indifferent to others. It’s important to observe the child to be aware of the phase of development (sensitive period) they are in.

So, one parenting lesson - don’t force your child to learn something they aren’t ready for or are not interested in. It will just result in heartaches.

PRACTICAL LIFE & SENSORI-MOTOR ACTIVITY (18-36 mos): Kara sorting socks. Children have a natural desire to make sense of their world, to create order in a world that seems largely out of their control. For that reason, sorting activities often attract children. In fact, many children will start sorting things without even being taught.

Many parents have likely walked into a room to see their young child putting their blocks/toys in piles based on color or some other category. This is also a skill needed prior to introducing math (it involves logical thinking aside from visual discrimination). And of course, the more important part - Kara offering to help sort the newly washed clothes.

SENSORI-MOTOR ACTIVITY (Color Matching for 18- 36 mos): Put one of each color in each cup to act as Control-of-Error. If you have matching colored cups, then the color of the cup is already the Control-of-Error.

A traditional Montessori material has a control of error or way for the child to check his or her own work. There are a number of benefits, including help with the child’s ability to analyze and solve problems. Control of error in the materials also aids the child’s independence, self-esteem, and self-discipline.

PRACTICAL LIFE ACTIVITY - CLEANING AND POLISHING PLANT LEAVES (18-36 mos). Choose a child-friendly plant that is low maintenance (and with big leaves).

SENSORIAL ACTIVITY (6 - 24 mos): This is what you call a #treasurebasket. Sample is the one we prepared at home. The purpose of the activity is to provide the infant or toddler with the opportunity to explore and discover on their own.

This is a very “sensorial” activity. In #Montessori, the sensorial category involves materials and activities that help the child to become more aware and capable within the domains of the five senses. From bright colors to the different types of textures to the tastes and smells of the natural world, this category is all about helping the child experience the world through the five senses with as much perception and acuity as possible.

You can make any category - by color, by size, or maybe create themes - different types of veggies! Just make sure to pick safe materials.

MOVEMENT - BAR FROM WHICH TO HANG (18-36 mos): Montessori did say "Scientific observation then has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a NATURAL process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment."

LANGUAGE - PHONEMIC AWARENESS (Birth-6 yrs old): Remember, CONCRETE BEFORE ABSTRACT. That means, introduce the real object before a picture of an object (or in the case of Language, introduce the letter sound before the letter symbol). Don't just make children memorize by sight, it can potentially delay writing and reading (or even language development). There have been several studies regarding the importance of phonemes but Montessori is that amazing, she observed and understood how to introduce Language effectively for the child to easily learn it more than a century ago.

To get Kara familiar with the letter sounds, we did the 3 period lesson: ⠀⠀

Kara, this is Gggg (letter G)⠀

Kara, please show me Gggg (letter G)⠀

Kara, what is this? (Gggg)⠀⠀

Over time, she was able to get familiar with all the letter sounds. We also apply the 3 period lesson with her animal figurines (posted a video of it previously). I combined both activities, so I would ask Kara which animal starts with "Gggg" - she would either give me the gorilla or the goat, but never the giraffe because it doesn't start with "Gggg", but with "Jee" - too early for me to explain that G can sound like J if the next letter is I, E, or Y)⠀

You can also use the same approach to name objects you have at home. If you have a whiteboard you can just write the letter as you associate it to an object.

I hope this post helps. Here is a list of simple principles that you can start applying TODAY. :)

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~ Mommy K

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