“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.”—Dr. Maria Montessori
Welcome to “Montessori Parenting,” a three-part series about practicing Montessori parenting at home. Part I embraces the Montessori philosophy of infant care. Parts II and III focus on toddlers and elementary school children, respectively, bridging the Montessori methods between home and school.
As parents, caretakers, and educators, we have an incredible responsibility and opportunity to nurture children to be independent, self-disciplined, responsible, kind, and thoughtful human beings—respectful of themselves, others, and their environment.
The responsibility of parenting actually begins at the time of conception. Even before a child is born, they are affected by the feelings, sounds, movements, and emotions of their mother. That’s why it’s never too early to start practicing Montessori methods. Once your child is born, you’ll find many opportunities to exercise Montessori beliefs and values as a way of life with your family—the benefits will last a lifetime.
Here’s how to get started caring for your infant the Montessori way:
Communicate with your child respectfully
At the heart of the Montessori philosophy of child development and education is respect. More than 100 years ago, Dr. Maria Montessori believed that children grow and flourish when they are treated respectfully as every human being should be, no matter what the age.
Treating your newborn with respect can be done with every gesture and activity throughout each day. Every minute counts, so take the time to bond with your child and help them learn and develop to their full potential in a loving, calm, and safe environment.
Speak softly and kindly
While a baby may not understand your words, they do feel the emotions that are voiced. Enjoy rich, gentle conversations with your child using actual words to name and describe the people and objects in their world. At every opportunity, let them know exactly what you are doing and why. Ask for permission to feed and dress them. Engage in fun dialog by repeating the sounds and expressions your baby makes as they mimic yours. Remember, they are little people and want to be treated as you would like to be treated.
Create a stimulating environment and watch what happens
A big part of helping your child develop to their full potential is in the careful observance of their movements, gestures, expressions, and interests. As they start to discover their environment, watch for what they find stimulating and intriguing. What items or activities spark their curiosity, encouraging them to reach and grasp for things? With a little thoughtful planning, you can create a welcoming, enriching environment that keeps your child engaged and inspired as they grow and develop. Here are a few tips:
- Decorate your baby’s room with colorful décor, including overhead mobiles, artwork, building blocks, balls, plants, and flowers.
- Safely place your baby on a floor mat where they’ll have the freedom to stretch, roll, kick, and crawl. It’s important to encourage movement and limit the amount of time they sit in baby chairs and car seats.
- Engage in reading and singing to your child as soon—and as much—as possible. Books with colorful, realistic pictures are a great way to start. Your choice of music can be both soothing and stimulating, depending on the time of day and your child’s mood. My nephew went to sleep every night to the sound of The Beatles, Hey Jude.
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that a child has an “absorbent mind” with limitless capabilities and promise. Their brain develops with the care, attention, and stimulation they receive daily. Make each moment special, teaching them patiently and compassionately to be the best they can be—emotionally, physically, socially, and intellectually.
At Apple Montessori Schools, we have embraced the Montessori philosophy for more than 45 years, understanding that each child is unique and has the innate desire and curiosity to learn, discover, and grow to their full potential.