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.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Toddler Montessori At Home

Ok, in the last 2 weeks I have been asked for varying levels of insight into toddler-hood by no less than 15 individuals! I preface the entire following post with these points:
--I am not infant-toddler trained *at all*.
--My initial Montessori experience was in a wonderful AMI school in the after-school care, the lower elementary and the toddler room (somehow I was never needed in primary at that particular school!). These experiences were strong ones and truly formed my whole Montessori way of thinking - in comparing to later experience, I find that the children were full of joy, with very bright eyes, and the teachers were expert observers!
--I have raised exactly one child through the entire infant-toddler stage.
--I have played a role in providing Montessori environments to countless children on a part-time basis, including providing a Montessori environment in my own home for daycare purposes.
--I am not an expert; I would love to go back for more AMI training, but I (like most of my readers) simply can't do that. I did primary and elementary - those were two miracles by themselves. My official training time is done :(

But I love to share what worked for US!

So here we go: 

For toddler-hood, I did use Montessori from the Start (separating the wheat from the chaff ;) ) as well as my observations at local Montessori toddler programs (which wasn't all that great); I drew as much as I could from my past experience of working in an AMI toddler room as the routine substitute - to this day it is probably the best toddler Montessori environment I've ever been in - other AMI rooms came quite close; and none of the non-AMI ones suited me at all, sad to say - and at the time I didn't even know the difference between AMI and AMS.
NOTE: If I could begin again, I would set aside Montessori from the Start and read "The Joyful Child" by Susan Stephenson - available at While Montessori from the Start has more detailed activity descriptions, it was really hard to separate the wheat from the chaff!

A simply grand infant-toddler activity.
Yes I bought this salt shaker set specifically
so my son could do this work of mounting toothpicks.
Solid glass, heavy, and a metal cap.
Step 1: toothpicks into wide-mouth jars
Step 2: tootpicks into water bottles
Step 3: Mounting toothpicks on salt shakers.
FILLS their inner drive towards TINY work.
It's real (glass and metal).
(I don't care for pepper, so this is actually the pepper shaker -
we use the salt one for salt!)
My very strong advice on this age is to worry less about teaching anything in particular and focus more on:
--real experiences
--real materials (heavy glass tumblers are more appropriate for an older infant sitting at his chair, then a plastic sippy cup knocked off the tray or traipsing around the house)
--whole/real language - and verbally labeling all things in the environment.
--beginning the sound games just for the fun of it
--including the child in all activities possible
--lots of snuggling, reading, conversations (encouraging responses)
--trust the child's ability to learn, including learning boundaries. Maintain them. (provide toothpicks for mounting on a saltshaker lid, but no they do not go in the mouth)
--Develop good habits by allowing good things to happen. Don't interrupt a child's attention and focus for example.
--Cull bad habits by stopping them immediately. Those keys on the table with the swiss knife attached? Yep. They're enticing, but they stay there when you've said 'no' and the child has been given something else to explore.
--OBSERVE your child.

I can't emphasize any of the above enough! Perhaps some day I will be able to write a blog post (or series of blog posts) about each of those points. In the meantime, take them one by one and consider what you can do to implement them. What does it mean? What new habits do you need to work on for yourself? What environmental changes do you need to make?

For inspiration - we have always had small homes; for a few months at different times we did live with other families in larger houses (and I had less control over those houses, in regards to safety features) - so my posts focus on the smaller spaces - and limited budgets.

Three previous posts:
Practical Life for the Toddler Years
Infants and Toddlers at Home
Toddler Montessori Home Environment

See the full set of toddler posts by clicking here.

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