The Montessori approach to education uses a foundation of active learning through physical experience, led by the child. You may have heard it described as learning through play. What that means in practical terms, is simply that you take advantage of a child’s interests to teach him or her important life skills. As children learn, they gain confidence and become more willing to share knowledge by teaching and engaging with other children in a non-aggressive style of play.
Here are six simple Montessori ideas and activities you can do at home that improve fine motor control, engage multiple senses and add excitement to the learning process.
These ‘instruments’ help children tell between different sounds. The boxes are color coded (blue and red) to allow children to also practice matching. Place the two boxes of instruments next to each other and demonstrate the activity. Pick up a blue cylinder and shake it next to your ear. Then try the same thing with a red cylinder. Keep trying red cylinders until you locate the one that sounds the same as the blue cylinder chosen. Set aside the matched pair, return the unmatched red cylinders to the box and begin again.
This type of activity can be done with something as simple as a mat with a line drawn down the center and some granola or trail mix. Don’t forget to use a shallow bowl to let your kid easily reach into the container. Provide different sized scoops and encourage them to sort the food into different categories. For example, put all the nuts on one side of the line and all the fruits on the other.
Start exploring science with a sensory rock exploration box. An egg carton makes a great storage box, and a little hot glue puts every stone in its own spot. Find rocks with different textures and imperfections to encourage your toddler to feel each type. And it doesn’t have to be rocks–just anything with texture.
The Montessori lacing kit includes different shapes, colors and sizes that add in an element of sorting and sequencing into beading and lacing. With this kit, children can practice over and over again, developing the fine motor skills and pattern recognition critical for more advanced applications.
Sand can add a sensory element to the process of learning numbers and letters. Providing tools like funnels, scoops and shovels allows you to lead your child on the journey to writing with a total sensory experience. Adding water can change the experience and show them the versatility of sculpting, versus writing with dry sand and the funnel. It makes drawing and learning a game, not work.
It can be difficult to get a little one engaged and motivated to read. But studies show that children who read for fun do much better academically. To get your young one immersed in a book, set aside a dedicated reading time and a special reading place. Take turns reading out loud with your child and don’t be afraid to get into character. Let your child build his own library of books he actually wants to read and add to his collection. Get the neighborhood involved and host a small book club where kids can share what they’ve read. This inspires active reading and story discussion.
Before you shop: If all else fails, don’t forget to try a little incentive with your at-home Montessori ideas. It will be much easier getting your child to engage in active learning when it comes with an extra hour of playtime or a late-night bedtime once a week.