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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

REVIEW POST: Montessori House Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers

Montessori House has been on my radar for a while. The author and I are in the same Montessori "team" on Etsy - and I have had to defend her right to utilize the team tag "TeamMontessori" on her albums.

The author has AMI training and has organized her AMI albums for use by parents and teachers. What she offers is authentic - with some caveats. 

I do have fundamental disagreements with a few areas of Montessori House: 
  • The primary - or second half of the first plane of development - ages 2.5-6 is to be kept together. No child progresses perfectly in sync in all areas nor in sync with any other child ever. Thus it makes no sense to split up the albums for ages 2.5-6 into 4 different levels. 
  • Primary only goes through kindergarten - not grade 1. Grade 1 (or first grade) should be the first year of elementary, the child has a different mind (a reasoning mind) and is need of the Great Lessons, not being held back into primary. 
  • The author says on the main website that the primary albums at least are a compilation "of the best exercises and presentations". Well, in one sense, AMI provides the keys, thus the "best" are all of them; so this could mean all of them. But I am not so sure on that, looking over the table of contents. 
  • There are related blogs and newsletters, but none seem to be producing new content of late. What is there is good however! 
  • The groupings of how to purchase which albums is odd configurations as well, which leads to confusion of "what am I suposed to get for which age/experience". But this is minor. 
Still - what is there, should be quality. 

Last week, I finally purchased the infant and toddler binders for my own use. 

Some of my own Montessori background: 
  • Before I had my son, I had spent many days at a then-local AMI Montessori school - I had no training, I didn't even barely know about Montessori when I first walked in. But I fell in love from the first 5 minutes! (it took 4 1/2 minutes to get used to the idea of "just sit in this chair and observe for a little while to get a feel for the environment here" ;) ). 
  • At that school, I spent most of my time with the infants and toddlers; second-most time in before/after care, third in elementary (6-9 and 9-12 at this school) and lastly in primary (3-6). 
  • I loved every moment - even when I was overwhelmed with confusion about what on earth was happening! Children excited about studying grammar!? Children ready to leave who spend 5 minutes picking well more than half of their "mess" from playing with a friend because that is what is done to be respectful to one another!? Respect!?
  • In the meantime, I have had an awesome son, went to AMI training for primary Montessori (ages 2.5-6) and elementary Montessori (ages 6-12), subbed at a slew of schools, spent more time with infants and toddlers (and all the other ages, including now a limited time with adolescents) - and run an in-home daycare based on Montessori principles. 
No Assistance to Infancy training is on my horizon at this time --- and the resources I have accessed have been much less than stellar (ahem - Montessori from the Start - I will post a review on that book soon - I don't recommend it anymore! I only used to recommend it with caveats.). I did use Montessori from the Start but set aside so much from it - and felt guilty for doing so (more in the upcoming post). 

I have been loving my recent discovery: Susan Stephenson's book The Joyful Child for children ages 0-3. I have a review post coming forth on that one too - I will only say here that my only caveat is the lack of some material descriptions. 

I started to write my own guide based on my own observations, readings, experiences, etc. It would have been awesome; but The Joyful Child takes care of a good deal of what I wanted to put together - and the remaining bits could be gleaned from Montessori from the Start, but still the separation of wheat and chaff was hurting me. 

Thus, I took a chance on the Montessori House Infant and Toddler binders. Spent $80-something after shipping. Then I read some reviews from others in a Facebook group, posted right after I ordered. I was doubting my purchase. Very concerned about the wasted money. There was one good review but she said she didn't want a lot of background/theory (and that portion is needed!). 

My verdict? 

YES! Just enough theory/background to get across the points without being overwhelming and spending hours upon hours of reading. And straight-forward material descriptions. 

And the emphasis on OBSERVATION! Phenomenal! Even places to record dates, notes, reactions, etc! 

Not a downside or a caveat - but just a point of interest: These albums are written pretty much without emotion; there is little in the way of wordy explanations. It is very much "here is the idea, here is why it works, go observe!" Some people may be put off by that, but just read it as a factual document and all is well! 

One issue noted by the Facebook group reviews: a lack of structure, finding some of it "vague and disjointed" - I have that part covered below ;) 

Of course I have my own personal caveats - personal to me, but also from my professional perspective. I thoroughly stand behind the infant album (up to 18 months). In the toddler album (18 months to 2.5 years), here are some of my tips: 
  • page 83: When a child shows interest in letters at this age, Montessori House says to use sandpaper letters, DON'T. That is not the most accurate match for the child's self-construction. When the child is interested in letters and words, be sure you are playing the *sound games* instead. Separately, if a child asks about a word or a letter, give the word or give the letter *sound* (not the name). 
  • The math section: Counting - YES! Making counters out of clay for the fun of it - YES!
    But please don't do sandpaper numbers at this point or do the numbers & counters activity. These come after a child has had the number rods experience later. 
  • For math, keeping going with patterning, oral counting, one to one correspondence and the like. 

Overall, these two Montessori House binders, taken together with Susan Stephenson's lovely, parent-friendly gentle book The Joyful Child, will provide all that you need for an awesome Montessori infant and toddler home experience! What the one lacks, the over fills in! 

These two resources for infancy and toddler - transition readily into Keys of the World for 2.5-6 and Keys of the Universe for ages 6-12.



  1. Thanks! This is a great post. I'm ordering the toddler ones right away before my toddler moves into Primary!

  2. I have been using Montessori from the Start, though I also have the Joyful Child. I would love to hear where you think the issues/caveats come in for MFTS since I have been reasonably impressed with it. In large part because it was the only detailed resource I could find and trusted since the author is AMI.

    1. Weaning, length of breast-feeding time, family bed versus child always sleeping alone, babywearing, etc.

      Essentially it comes down to "Attachment parenting" being at odds with "Montessori from the Start: Montessori at Home from Birth to Age 3" by the Lillards (there is another book of similar title - just has activity ideas and no propoganda for personal agendas). Dr. Montessori fully support attachment parenting styles as used propely - the Lillards do not.

  3. My son is about 18 months now and we are just stating some Montessori (I am just reading and learning). Is it necessary to get the binder for the youngest age group in order to get set up, or can I go straight to toddler binder?

    1. The toddler one only, should be just fine :)