We all want our children to be responsible, confident, focused and independent. Every year parents ask us – What can we do at home? It is the joint responsibility of parents and the school to provide the right environment for the child. This blog is the start of a series of blogs that will address the subject of Montessori at Home.
We all understand that our children have needs – physical, emotional, intellectual. We also know that children from birth through six go through ‘Sensitive Periods’. These periods are developmental phases in the life of a child where their whole mind and body is focused on developing a certain aspect of themselves. The chart below outlines the Sensitive Periods of a preschool child.
Order in the Environment
From the moment the child is born he is constantly bombarded with innumerable amounts of assorted information. All these pieces of information just pile up and can be very overwhelming, which is why young infants are so easily overloaded. The need for order helps a sort out all this information in the environment around him.
The Sensitive period for order starts from birth and peaks at 18 months to 2.5 years and prolongs to age 5. This is characterised by a desire for consistency and repetition. There exists a passionate love for established routines and disorder disturbs a child. The “terrible twos” are often exaggerated reactions to small disruptions in order that is not perceived by adults. The environment therefore must be organised with a place for everything and with carefully established ground rules.
It is also important to have external order as order in their environment where there is an appropriate place for everything as this helps the child also establish their internal order.
They may at this time insist on the same routine, and at times parents don’t really have time to respect this in the busy lives. One may even see a child put things in back into place if they are out of order if given the chance.
Creating an Ordered environment at home
Our Montessori classroom is laid out to meet this need. Every activity has a fixed place – the pouring of water is always put at a certain place on the shelf. There is a definite pattern to how work is taken in the class – All water work must be done using an oil-cloth, slippers must be worn while going to the washroom. Rules of the classroom stay fixed – hands must be washed before eating a snack, one task must be put away before another task is undertaken. Rules are not flexible no matter who the teacher is and what the day is like.
Here a few things you can do at home to help meet this need for order:
- Every thing in the home must be allocated a space. Children need to know where they can find what they need and where to put it away when done.
- Clothes should be kept in low shelves or drawers that are accessible to a child.
- A step stool must be placed in the bathroom and kitchen so your child can reach the sink
- Toys and games should be put on low open shelves where each game has an allocated space. Shelves should be free of clutter.
- Healthy snacks should be placed on lower shelves in the kitchen or pantry so children can help themselves.
- Water or other drinks can be put in small pitchers with glasses accessible to the child
- A child size broom, dustpan & brush and a sponge or mops must be kept so they are easily accessible for the child.
- The child must have a schedule at home. A fixed time to wake up, lunch-time, nap time, playtime and bed time and a caregiver that the child can count on being there everyday.
- Rules must remain the same. An allowance to eat candy one evening and not the next evening can be confusing to a child. Mixed messages disrupt a child’s sense of order – One parent asking a child to clear her room after her work while the other parent assigning that job to a maid.
All these are not easy to implement but if we take active effort on an everyday basis we will help children become more responsible, independent and happy.
Do read our related blog: http://dvm2montessori.com/the-problem-with-too-many-toys-the-kavanaugh-report/
This write up was put together by Tina Mehta and Ashani Hirway.