Montessori at Home by Heidi Spietz
I have noticed around the blogosphere that
there seems to be a large interest in play
based learning. It is extremely exciting for
me to see that there are so many others
that have the same philosophy and approach to
learning. I have noticed as well a recent
interest in the Montessori style that seems
to have exploded upon the blogs. It is
possible that these blogs have existed for
awhile but I have only found them now. I
decided to check into the style myself to
see what it is all about. I searched our
local library and came up with the book
Montessori at Home by Heidi Spietz.
The basics behind Montessori begin by
teaching your young child to be able to do
basic home skills and general maintenance
of self so that they can become sufficient
individual. These are basic skills of life
that everyone needs to know and we often
assume that our children acquire on their
own. Our expectation of this knowledge is
to be self learned with little guidance.
Parents often assume their child will know
how to do these things by being and seeing
them demonstrated. There is the
possibility that the steps to washing
an apple are not explained or verbally
spoken. The steps of teaching begin
with the parent showing the child
and verbalizing the act of washing the
apple. The parent then steps back
and allows the child the opportunity to try
washing the apple on their own without
interference from the parent. (Which is
probably the hard part.) If the child
struggles he/or she is encouraged to
continue through to feel the accomplished
end result. These steps would be used to
teach dressing themselves, moving a
chair, closing and opening doors, visiting
a restaurant, eating, etc...
As a child grows and is ready for formal
learning, they will be able to begin reading
and math using the three period method.
First period would be presentation of the
object or lesson. For example if I had a
square and a triangle I would present it to
the child. I would talk about each and
present them to the child pointing out the sides
and angles of each and naming them. In Period
two it would be time for the child to show
me the triangle and square by being prompted
to point to those objects. In the third period
the child would now name the objects. In this
way the child would build upon his vocabulary.
What did I learn from the Montessori method so far?
I enjoy the literalness of the lessons.
I began to think if I have verbalized much
of the “basic skills” to my children. My
thoughts went to Spirit (age 5) and I thought
of those skills that he learned without a
lesson of instruction, such as dressing
himself. We practiced this task on a daily
basis until he could put his arm through
the sleeves and put his legs in his pants.
There was no literal lesson. It was
imprinted in our daily lives like many of
the skills mentioned for basic discovery.
There we a few of the tasks that I thought
I may like to show him. I have been thinking
for awhile now how beneficial it would be
for him to be able to pour his own drink.
The literal steps of Montessori may be just
what he needs for this particular activity.
However I do not feel it would be necessary
or beneficial for us at this time as
a family to walk through these necessities
as a lesson for all of the basic skills.
Moreover we would learn many of them as
part of our daily lives. It was nice though
to see these skills in a list and pick
out the ones we are lacking on and can
build them using this style and approach.
Then we arrive at formal learning.
With many approaches to learning I
think that we may try the periods for some
of our lessons. I like to try different
ways of presenting something to a child
and choosing the ones that work best.
I will be using the period method for
some of our upcoming beginning skills and
may try it with the older child that
struggles so with vocabulary. Much of
the approach to learning is hands on and
that is what I like most about it. I
like to allow the child the ability to
really touch and feel what they are
The last paragraph in the book sums it up...
“If we are to assist a child through this
learning process, we must become more patient,
respectful and giving. For it is only in this
type of environment that true learning and a
sense of fulfillment occurs”
A true statement for all Educational styles.