Montessori at Home-Part 2
The Importance of Concrete and Hands-On Sensory Experiences
Maria Montessori realized that children need concrete experiences before they begin to understand abstract concepts. For example, to understand the idea of a square, children need to be holding square shaped objects in their hands. They need to see them, feel them, and examine them. After their exposure to concrete, three-dimensional objects, they later are developmentally ready to truly understand the concept of a square, or other shapes. She created many toys and materials for use in her schools that she thought children would find interesting, but also undefined and open ended. A majority of these toys are still found in Montessori classrooms today.
If you are interested in doing Montessori at home, it is not necessary to purchase all the materials typically found in an accredited Montessori classroom. You can create a Montessori atmosphere with inexpensive materials found in your home supplemented by a few carefully chosen toys and activities.
Creating a Home Montessori Atmosphere
There are a few structural components which are necessary for creating a true Montessori approach in your home. One item which is integral is having low shelving where children can reach the materials they would like to use. Child sized furniture should be placed in the room where the toys are used, so that the environment feels comfortable and natural for children. Montessori believed that children’s play spaces should be filled with beautiful objects for them to observe and admire, and that they should be orderly and well-organized. Since another principle of Montessori is that cleanup is part of play, it is imperative that children be able to physically clean up and return their materials to the correct space.
The Spielgaben toy sets are housed in sturdy wooden boxes. When each set is put away properly, it creates a block inside the box. Children can discover how the pieces fit together and fill the box properly during clean up, and then return it to the shelf. Again, this adheres to Montessori’s belief in an orderly environment.
Each Spielgaben set can be order separately, or the kit can be ordered in its’ entirety. Kits are introduced one at a time, and work their way down from largest pieces to smallest. There is a trolley which is available when you purchase the entire set of toys, so that they may all be stored in an attractive and tidy way.
Things to Keep In Mind While Creating a Home Montessori Atmosphere Using the Spielgaben
Parents who want to create a home Montessori program will find that the Spielgaben is the perfect supplement to their space. To use the toy in a truly Montessori fashion, there are a few principles that parents and grandparents should keep in mind.
- Children should be allowed an uninterrupted work time where they can explore a material until they are satisfied, and also revisit favorite activities.
- Early childhood learning should be a pressure free environment. Your children will learn best through fun self-directed self-discovery.
- Make different materials available to your child. Remember Maria Montessori’s words of wisdom: “Follow the child”.
- Once your child has mastered an activity or skill, you may add a more challenging factor to it, but again, do not pressure or place stress on them.
You Can Do It!
There are many reading materials available for parents and grandparents who want to do Montessori at home with their children and grandchildren. If you decide that this tried and true approach to creating problem solvers and creative thinkers is something you want to try, then you most definitely should give it a go! The Montessori style is fun and relaxed. It is a stress free environment for children and their caregivers to interact and a way to make learning fun and interesting for young children. Montessori creates independent thinkers and problem solvers.
The Spielgaben is the perfect toy for this open ended style of self- directed learning. The benefits of these gifts are far reaching, and will benefit children throughout their entire lives. Take a cue from the mothers of Frank Lloyd Wright and Albert Einstein. Use the Spielgaben to do Montessori in your home.