If you’ve been following along you know that I started the “100 Days of Montessori” challenge for myself this year. And you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting much. I’ve wondered if I should do a daily post on the Facebook page or write it all in a blog. So I’ve done a little of both but not much of either. Finally I decided to post in chunks instead of daily. Here is an overview of the first 10 days/steps on my challenge.
What’s great about making Montessori changes in my life shortly after my daughter’s second birthday is that she isn’t in the “ready for school” period Maria identified in her work, which occurs closer to age 3. So that means I was able to start slow with small yet measurable changes in my life and my home. It was also helpful that I was already employing some Montessori principles – which is a large part of what drew me to this method in the first place.
What makes it difficult is that I’m not a stay at home mom, so some days I don’t make any changes at all and some days I make several changes. Most of the early changes I had to make were mental/outlook adjustments and while I’m listing them as “days” they are more ongoing struggles I’m addressing.
Day 1: Let her do it herself. I was already practicing this in many areas, but I noticed that I was frequently interfering with her efforts because I didn’t want her to do it wrong. Dressing herself, blowing her own nose, washing hands – these are all things that she wants to do herself and may just need a “touch up” here and there after she makes a mistake. What’s great is that now she comes to me when her shirt is on backwards rather than being forced into “the right way” before she could even try.
Day 2: Involve her in household chores. In Montessori this is just “practical life” but I wasn’t doing much of it because everything takes 8x longer with a two-year-old “helping”. Practical life activities I now encourage are emptying the dryer into a basket, handing me items to help empty the dishwasher, and cleaning up all her messes, including throwing away garbage, wiping up spills and putting away her own laundry.
I remember when, shortly after moving into a new house with a dishwasher, I’d often find her piling unwashed plates (that she’d removed from the dishwasher) in the living room and taking clean plates from the cupboards to put in the dishwasher. She’s needed a little redirection in her efforts but is very enthusiastic about helping out.
Day 3: Limit toys. This took me a while to figure out, but I finally realized that when people do away with the toy box they don’t give their kids unrestricted access to all toys. It means instead of 50 blocks, 15 might do. And instead of every toy and activity the child has ever enjoyed, a rotating assortment of 5-20 options may do. I’m finding my daughter likes around 10 in her room and another 5 in the kitchen or living room on the lower shelves and cabinets.
Day 4: Gentle discipline. This is something I’ve been practicing since birth – the operative word being “practice”. I’m a yeller and I’m working on it. I don’t believe in “practice makes perfect” but I prefer my brother’s phrase “practice makes permanent”. My gentle discipline improves and is newly challenged every day.
Day 5: Cut out the empty praise. This is another daily challenge. I’ve gone from saying “good job!” 50x a day to about 10x a week. Improvement! (If you’re wondering why, read this article.)
Day 6: A trip to the thrift store. I went to the store after feeling inspired by photos of other people’s thrift finds and looking at this list of things to buy, but the trip was a partial bust because I wasn’t really sure which items would be age appropriate or what I should use them for. I did find some good things in the toy section, like a cloth busy book, a cloth farm with animals, a memory game, and items to make lacing cards in the craft section. I have since gone back to get small pitchers for a pouring work and lots of baskets for storing activities and organizing my household in general.
Day 7: ACTIVITY- pipe cleaners in a strainer. This was a good 10 minutes of entertainment.
Day 8: Cutting with safety scissors. This was a big fail, and it turns out there are all kinds of activities I could have tried first to “train” cutting skills.
Day 9: ACTIVITY- Q-tip jar.
Day 10: Activity fail- ugly glitter bottle (this one looks like the recipe to replicate, though I don’t want to make it for time outs).
Disclaimer: this blog is about MY journey and the things I’ve done on my challenge. Since I’m far from an expert I can’t claim any of it as an example for others to follow and, as I frequently share, many of my attempts have ended in failure. I’m really interested in hearing about the first ten Montessori steps YOU implemented in the comments below or on the Facebook page!