Simone Davies is a Montessori educator based in Amsterdam. She works with toddlers every day and has come to appreciate their energy, curiosity, and delight, but she’s mindful that not all parents feel quite the same way about this age. Her new book, The Montessori Toddler, is designed to empower parents who might be drawn to the idea of Montessori while also feeling intimidated by trying to implement the philosophy at home. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the book offers ways to set up the house to make the space more child-friendly, but the focus is on mindset, creating a calm environment, and understanding how toddlers see the world. Below are some easy ways you bring Montessori into your home, whether your kids attend a Montessori school or not. Hopefully you’ll find these practices as enjoyable as they will!
- Use the acronym SHOW when teaching children something new. It’s a reminder to use Slow Hands and Omit Words. When we’re talking and pointing out details, toddlers can get confused about whether they should listen or watch, so it helps to keep any demonstrations simple and quiet.
- Approach daily life as a chance to build practical skills. Pouring water, carrying dirty clothes to the hamper, taking off socks, nose blowing, and cleaning windows are all activities that engage young children’s senses and test their skills.
- Find ways to make each room accessible. In the bathroom, this might mean adding a low step, so your toddler can reach the sink. Or try adding an extender to the light switch.
- Make time to go outside every day. Try bringing indoor activities outside when the weather is nice.
- Grow a garden. It’s ok to start small! Welcome questions and digging in the dirt.
- Set up a cozy place for reading. Place books face-out on a bookshelf or in a basket. Let your toddler choose the books. Add a beanbag or cushion to encourage lounging.
- Step back and observe your child every day. Notice how they grasp objects. Watch what they eat. Observe preferences and interests. Listen as they communicate. Avoid judging or analyzing. Notice your own reactions. Use these to make small changes that can make daily life easier and more engaging for your family.
- Give your child a sense of belonging by trying to see the world from their perspective and avoiding labels like “the naughty one” or “the athletic one” and offering neutral feedback instead of praise.
- After you ask your child to do something, silently count to 10 before asking again or doing something else. That’s about how long it takes for toddlers to process a request.
- Acknowledge feelings even if they’re difficult feelings like being mean or hurt. Use phrases like “It looks like you…” or “I’m guessing you might feel…” Know that in a tantrum, the first thing you must do is help them calm down. Offer a cuddle if they’re receptive. Attempt to reason or explain only once the storm has passed.
- Try singing to add a bit of lightness to tough transitions or unpopular moments like brushing teeth or changing diapers.
- Let your child take the lead to see what activities they choose. It builds independence and can help you get to know your child better.
- Use positive language. Let your child know what to do, rather than saying what not to do. Try “We are gentle with the baby,” instead of “Don’t touch the baby!”
- Teach your child to share by taking turns. Give them the words if they need support. Toddlers can learn to say “My turn. It will be your turn soon.”
- Celebrate wherever you are. Trust that whatever your family looks like, it’s enough and you’re doing your best. Remember you’re a human. You might never stop learning or growing, but you can still enjoy who you are today. The same goes for your perfectly imperfect toddler too!
The Montessori Toddler is on B&N bookshelves now.