If you’re a Montessori blogger, please don’t be offended by that admission. It’s really not you, it’s me. Because I’m trying to find ways to engage and teach my child, and sometimes that quest leads me to focus more on what other people are doing and less on what my child needs.
I have let my desire to DO get ahead of my understanding of what needs to be done. I have a burgeoning Pinterest collection of Montessori activities and dozens of blog posts and pictures bookmarked in my browser. I belong to a few Montessori facebook groups and I’m frequently looking in there for age-appropriate lessons and activities. I’ve lost sight of the first rule of Montessori.
Follow the child.
That phrase is a nightmare for those of us parents who are new to Montessori. You mean there’s no list somewhere of all the things we should do???
There isn’t, much as we try to create one. I’ve found that nearly every list of appropriate activities for two-year-olds includes a color sorting/matching task. My two-year-old loves sorting and refuses to sort by color. In fact, I have no idea if there is even a pattern to the way she sorts things. Is there something wrong with her? Why won’t she do the things other kids her age have been doing for six months?
Nope, there’s nothing wrong with her. Something’s wrong with me. It’s the unconscious need to prove to myself that “my kid is SO advanced!” She didn’t walk until 17 months, didn’t show much interest in talking until nearly two years but she is far beyond her years when it comes to figuring out how to destroy things. So maybe her activity list should be less constructive than the average Montessori student. Less building block structures and more knocking them over, listening to the sound they make and watching the way they scatter. I haven’t seen that on Pinterest but doesn’t it sound like a good task for a two-year-old?
“Is this toy Montessori?”
I see this question posted frequently in Montessori forums and I always find the responses enlightening and edifying. It was in this way that I learned about control of error and how it helps toddlers learn. I appreciate the thought process behind the question and I often wonder along those lines myself when I go thrifting for toys. But I also wonder whether the answer to the question is truly relevant when it comes to parenting. When shopping for a Montessori classroom, sure. But if I’m asking whether I should bring it into my own home, it must be because I saw a toy that I think my child would truly enjoy and I’m willing to make the investment. So – from that perspective I should go for it!
So I’ll follow the child.
I’ll continue the long, confusing task of trying to understand what she sees and how her brain is processing the tasks she finds for herself. And maybe I’ll learn to simply contribute what is needed – as much or little as that may be.
I’ll continue to find help in Montessori blogs along the way.
What am I up to now?
Right now I’m focusing mainly on practical life improvements rather than activities.
A toddler-sized cleaning station, tall step stools to reach sinks, personal laundry basket and wall art at child level (we have repeatedly verified that all the pictures have ears, eyes and noses).