As I said in my previous post, I have to balance the pro-independence/child-controlled tenet of the Montessori method with the put-the-child-in-lockdown/control-freak element of my own personality. As much as I am comfortable I have prepared the environment in my home to support the Montessori philosophies at all times of day.
This post is about the ways in which my home is intentionally NOT Montessori. I have made several, but relatively few, pre-meditated deviations from "best practice." If you want to read a beautiful post about how the home environment should be prepared, please see this one by Barbara at Mommy Life here. I have chosen to ignore certain recommendations in order to preserve the patience and energy for the recommendations I try to observe. I am offering full disclosure up front, otherwise these things will just pop up in the background of my photos and I can hear all of your collective Montessori minds thinking "doesn't she know that Maria said..."
Firstly, as previously mentioned, I created a "school room" that is not accessible to the boys unless they ask. I suggest time in there daily because I understand this creates an "out of sight, out of mind" problem. I also plan to put a big picture on the door of that room that labels it the "school room" and will catch their interest as they mill about the house.
Secondly, I understand that "the child will develop more fully; mentally, emotionally, and physically when she is free to move and explore in an ever-enlarging environment" In "best-
practice" Montessori a child is free to leave his bed and to move about his room FROM BIRTH ON. This is accomplished by putting the baby to sleep, from birth on, on a mattress on the floor. The purpose of this is "to give the child, from birth...room to practice moving, and can see everything in the proper way, and not through "bars." " This idea triggers the "You Have GOT to be KIDDING me" (henceforth UHG2BK) part of my brain. (This part of my brain will not respond to logical, factual arguments. It only exercises veto power, so don't bother to try changing my mind when the UHG2BK casts its vote). I do NOT wish my children to practice moving while they are supposed to be practicing SLEEPING.) I guarantee, there are no "bars" on the inside of their eyelids. My three-year-old still sleeps in his crib, in a sleepsack, with a crib tent and I'll be happiest if he stays there for another year.
When he starts asking to go potty at night, I'll have to move him out unfortunately. That could be tomorrow, that could be next January. We'll see. I'll keep you posted. I know everyone is simply dying to hear about toddler potty activities.
Thirdly, many blogs on my blog roll will show you the rewards of having art supplies available at all times and set up so that the child can set up, complete, and clean up from an art project BY THEMSELVES. UHG2BK. I cannot wrap my brain around the concept of having PAINT and MARKERS and a BUCKET OF WATER available at whim, oh, until let's say high school.
We do art almost every day, and in a future post I'll show you our "curriculum." Would they do more art if I had it out at all times...probably. Would that art be ground into my white carpet (right on the other side of that gate in the photo)...probably. Yes, I have taught Kal-El how to use and respect his art supplies. I still feel he can use and respect them after ASKING for them. Me Too mostly EATS his art supplies (more on that later).
OK, not that particular one :)
The toilet is even locked (another interesting story). I don't really feel this is against best practice, but rather part of best practice. I feel I should mention it because so there are so many recommendations to not lock as much as possible. Because so much is on lockdown, they have complete freedom in the home during the day. I do not relocate myself whenever they do. I do not chase them around the house all day. I know they are safe wherever they are and I don't need to have them in my line of sight. As a side benefit, I don't have ask them to put away the entire contents of my kitchen cabinets a couple of times a day. The only truly bad things they can do are turn on the gas stove (which I can HEAR from anywhere in the house...no, childproof locks will NOT go on the knobs) or run the reverse osmosis tap in the bathroom (won't kill them, just really messy). This freedom is also, in part, possible due to a very complicated system of locks on our doors to the outside. I'll talk about our locks in a future post. Supernanny might want to take note.
Lastly, there is a lot of evidence that toddler tantrums can be best avoided if they can make a lot of their own choices. What to wear, what to eat, etc., "Best practice" says to have a snack center available at all times so they can prepare their own snacks.
On the snack prep thing though, even though he can't grab his own banana and cut one whenever he wants. When I give him one with a meal he does get to open, peel, slice and discard the trash himself. And he shares it with his brother. He cooks almost every day, and makes his own sandwiches, at lunch time, when I say it is time. We have a toy kitchen set, although Montessori resources often recommend against them. Both boys have more interest in cooking than I can possibly fulfill in a day without opening a restaurant. I let them cook with me as much as I can and the toy kitchen handles the overflow.
Hopefully this post will put some of my future, glowing, "Montessori is amazing" posts in proper perspective.