It’s Montessori Mondays, week two. I’ve promised you readers a blog post each Monday about what Montessori life looks like with our girls. This is real stuff. I don’t have time to make things Pinterest perfect anymore. I’m getting the point across the best I can, to share what I’ve learned over the last 10 years having my girls in Montessori school. I feel beyond thankful to be doing this round four, with baby girl. In fact my big realization this week is that I not ready to officially send her off to school next year, to the amazing toddler classroom that all my other girls attended. It’s a zen place full of love. Her birthday is on the exact date of the kindergarten cut off here. Therefore she makes the cut off for the 2 year-old room, just barely, by nine minutes. My other girls had Fall birthdays and were always the oldest in their classes. They were weaned and potty trained when they entered school as toddlers and nine months older than what baby girl would be in that class. So we’ll be Montessori homeschooling next year, or until I feel like I need for more separation time from her. Right now I’m going to keep holding her for every nap I can get and sharing moments with her like this one, when my little middle was two and showing us a preview of her ferse independence.
Sunday I created two new lesson shelves for baby girl to explore this week.
The first shelf is for music. I have a collection of books with CDs, ranging from music to stories and fairy tails. Barefoot Books makes some really great ones. The one I chose to place out this week for baby girl is Knick Knack Paddy Wack. Before the girls had access to iPods, I used to have a listening station out for them with a cushion, headphones and books on CDs to choose from. This CD player is a throwback from those days. I had to “borrow it” from one of the girls. They still prefer playing a CD sometimes to downloading music. The same goes for books versus e-books. When children learn to touch and feel and manipulate their work in a hands-on-environment…some habits just stick. I look forward to changing out the CD and book frequently on this shelf.
The musical instruments were this I already had. The small cymbals are borrowed from a friend. The loose bells are from a dollar isle craft item from Christmastime. The xylophone and shakers are from 10 Thousand Villages when that store was still around. One year they did a sale at school. They have been in my basement stash of instruments for a long time. Sometimes it pays to save stuff. I only put out a small portion of what I could have made available to baby girl. But keeping things out of reach and swapping items out keeps things interesting. When she gets bored of these or “masters the lesson,” using Montessori lingo, I’ll swap them out with music instruments or shakers that she hasn’t seen in a while, along with a new book.
Next is a shelf of puzzle lessons. She has seen all of these before. What’s different for this is I’m going to begin introducing the idea that she choose these lessons and do them on a work mat. The mat is on the right, rolled up. I sewed it for this purpose. Stay tuned on Instagram for live shots of her using this work during the week. If you are not on Instagram, the photos appear at the bottom of this blog, and might be posted next week as well
Here’s what my living room looks like, incorporating these lesson shelves into how we do everyday life at home. Ideally I would have taken these photos in daylight but life is not ideal now. And most things happen after bedtime.
This is a couple snapshots of baby girl choosing lessons this week, at home. This is how she plays, through “work.” It’s also how I like hanging out with her. This is her playing in her room with a ball toy. She has a stash of traditional toys that live in her closet. We get them out to play and then we put them back in and close the door. Since she doesn’t have access to them all the time they are more interesting when they are avaliable to her. She also has a slew of things she has no interest in, and needs to be cycled out of our system. Using and getting bored of toys, and passing them on or packing them up, is a big part of having kids. It just never stops. There’s a reason why practical life play has been around for generations. When looking for toys, remember that playing with the box is usually the best part. And pots and pans and kitchen measuring spoons usually work just as well. This ball toy from Haba, and the ball box with the hole cut out from Etsy, have been favorites at our house for years.
If you are new to having babies and toddlers and Montessori, I recommend the classic book Montessori from the Start, The child at home from birth to age three.
Flash foward five years to now, when my little middle is seven and you get this. She is presenting a report on Polar Bears. She chose the topic. I presented her with some books. She sat down and got very frustrated because she is so independent that she wanted to do it all by herself and she wanted it to be perfect without any help from anyone. She learned a lot about her topic. She wrote down her report all by her self. She made this poster by cutting out pages from the magazine style books we ordered (this was easier than sending things to the printer or using all my ink). At school she read her report and answered questions from her classmates. She was confident and engaged. The children asked good questions for which she had good answers about her subject matter. She amazes me. She is so smart. She is so brave.
Last week this same girl was running on the playground and accidentally ran into a tree. She had a knot on her forehead at pick up time. Her accident report said she went inside and asked for an ice pack. It also said she was brave. I asked her if she cried and she said no. Ouch! I would have cried! She plays hard. Last weeks she fell and skinned her knee running on the sidewalk. She ripped her pants, leaving a hole where you could see the big bandaid with blood. It was that bad. I asked if her she found a sister or a friend to hug when it happened. Her reply, “No! I just went inside and got a bandaid.” She is SO independent. I love that about this sweet girl who still crawls in my bed for nightly snuggles.