Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Infants and Toddlers at Home

How do we provide a Montessori environment for the littlest ones?

It is so easy and simple - that it is complicated.

Your best bet is start with nothing and add what you need; but most of us do not have that luxury. Instead we have to wade through the *stuff* to purge what we don't need. Ugh.

First, learn about your child's developmental stages - read Montessori's writings and attachment parenting books about this age, before really looking at other resources (even if you don't plan to attachment parent - the information is very sound). These writings will be based on observation and responses given to children of this age for the last 6000 years at minimum.

Train yourself in observation and response. Subtle cues. Environmental. People. Temperature. The sounds of silence.

Establish a peaceful home. A joyous home. Filled with love and light.

For materials - consider what you REALLY need. Babies need very few contraptions - on the contrary, they need room to explore.

Consider human needs and tendencies as they will be displayed in a very young child, even one in the womb. How can you meet these needs and tendencies? Fulfill them?

Through simplicity. Focus. Yes there are mobiles and images that are strongly recommended, but in the end, YOU can come up with most of what you need with only a small nudge for the rest. Trust YOURSELF, trust YOUR instincts. Develop your instincts. Follow your gut.

Observe and Respond.

(NOTE: Blogger is being funny with the photo arrangements - if you see a HUGE blank space below, please keep scrolling down for the rest of the post!)

Start with one piece puzzles and large knobs
(geometric shapes best to start with -
see the top puzzle of the stack on the left)

So happy to be at the table with the big people :)

booster for at the table
(doubles as high chair with detachable tray;
also tilts back for infants
and has 2-3 height settings)

booster that doubles as high chair when needed.
Less furniture and smaller. 

Attachment parenting
confidence that mom is always there

Real food; real utensils
the bowl was in my hands at the time of the photo

Time with family, participating with the family

Drinking from bowl of cereal for the first time!
This photo: about 12 months
visiting at a friend's house
their kids thought the toy would neat
he ignored it ;) 

Building and exploring
does not have to be Montessori materials
although plain colored blocks are best,
if you have colored, have 1 color for each shape


Visiting at friend's house - no glass tumblers available
plastic is ok from time to time, but has no weight
plastic is easier to knock over than heavy glass
glass encourages control of movement
This photo: 12 months
start with glass tumbler: 7-10 months

Lots of real experiences in natural spaces

Experiences - get out with baby!
In this photo: pointing at the birds around St. Peter's Square
shouting "Duck! Mama look! Ducks!"
(birds, ducks... well... he *was* only 23 months!)

Freedom in nature

Controlled exploration

Floor-mirror next to bed. 

Floor mirror
I'm not excited about that duck thing.
But sometimes you have to compromise for family peace ;)  

Freedom of movement as much as possible
get in or out at will most of the time
then stay in seat during regular family meal time,
church services, prayer, etc. 

What the child sees on one of the infant mobiles

One of the infant mobiles
I made some pieces reversible to conserve materials

Lots of reading
as much reality as possible,
but don't mess with Great-Grandma's preferences ;) 

Lots of babies and other children!

A proud happy boy after Thanksgiving meal 

Own table to utilize between family meals

Quality time with godparents :) 

Quality time with godparents ;)
Yes, they are both genuinely asleep ;) 

about 20 months
eating with regular bowl and spoon

Collecting peas that had fallen off of dish during mealtime

Explore lots of textures (not all at once!)

Thinking he is ordering for himself ;)
Probably about 11 months here. 

~1.5 year old at Thanksgiving
Serving self from controlled portions
in small dishes

Real experiences - snow! 

Lots of space to crawl and move. 

Experimenting - this time with a drain in our kitchen floor.
What will fit? 

1 year old at Thanksgiving
Eating with own real utensils and drinking from glass
I love those little lips puckering out in concentration. 

Lots of other children
does not have to be all the time -
enough to learn proper social skills

Toileting when ready
(the attached child seat was
not appropriate for his anatomy,
thus we added the removable one with handles)
Step-stool for toilet
and step-stool for sink

Watching the infant mobile

Climbing on staggered couch cushions;
floor mirror is on back of couch to entice interest
for new infants in my daycare

All those photos and not a good one of our family floor bed. It is hinted at in some of the photos. For the most part, we used a regular mattress on the floor and called it good. And when I was pregnant it was FAR easier to get out of bed off a mattress on the floor than out of any of the taller beds I slept in when visiting family. Roll over onto hands and knees on the floor, then slowly rise from that position - stretches all the appropriate muscles to bring blood flow throughout the body, controlled any possible light-headedness or low blood pressure, and gave a bit of exercise in preparation for a smooth birthing experience. Very nice. And a fantastic transition into having baby on the floor bed, family style.

There are other photos missing as well - such as the coffee tin with the slit in the lid (for inserting poker chips) and the Discovery Toys ship with the balls that roll (we removed the colored rings and the hammer and just dropped the balls in; add the rings and press hard at an older age - no hammer). Too bad I didn't keep a daily diary at the time (ha! in what time!?) ;)

See other Montessori Trails for lists of the items I did utilize as well as practical life ideas.

By 2 1/2 the primary albums can be utilized to work on early language, early exercises of practical life and early sensorial. But don't rush things before that. Don't worry about providing knobbed cylinders - just have lots of exploration with real materials that provide experiences with shape, size, colors, weights, muscle control - and LOVE.

An AWESOME resource for this age: The Joyful Child by Susan Stephenson - available at PLease note, this is a book, not a catalog; The Joyful Child, not A Joyful Child; Susan Stephenson, not another author ;) There is some confusion out there. This book is written for parents in a natural friendly tone, specifically for infants and toddlers!

Please see our other Infant and Toddler experiences on Montessori Trails.

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