One of the things I’ve enjoyed about being a Montessori teacher was creating materials for the children and the classroom. I have therefore always planned to do Montessori at home and to craft things for my own baby and her environment.
Pinterest can attest to this as I excessively and obsessively tap that red ‘Pin it’ button, each time with a promise to make those pins one day: a topponcino of the softest organic cotton, the different Montessori mobiles, natural wooden rattles, hand-sewn Waldorf dolls, and every other thing I find a tutorial on.
As a Montessori teacher, I had hoped that my home when my daughter arrived would be just like my classrooms everyday—prepared, with the many beautiful and purposeful materials I have lovingly and thoughtfully made.
With so many options to consider, materials to collect and pegs to copy, I was overwhelmed. But soon, I realized that of all the things that we can make for our children, here are seven that are most important. And they’re not exactly just objects to make with our hands.
1. Make Observations
While I was pregnant, I was like every other soon-to-be first-time mother. I lost sleep reading about sleep training, cloth diapering and breastfeeding. I scrutinized every product from nail clippers to the different kinds of carriers. I researched every single thing – because I was thinking that I was preparing to be a mother.
But while all that was beneficial, I also realized that the best source, the best person to teach me how to be my daughter’s mother—was her. My daughter, she was teaching me how to be her mother.
And the best way for me to learn is to observe her. She has been and is going to tell me exactly what she is ready for and how she will learn and do things best. As Maria Montessori said, “Follow the child”.
2. Make Opportunities
I set up our home environment with providing learning opportunities in mind. As such, there should be opportunities for movement, for language, for sensorial experiences, for independence, for happiness, for success.
Our Montessori infant room, pictured above, has a floor bed, a reading nook, a pull-up bar, and a lot of space to move about.
3. Make Obstacles
While making opportunities is important, I think making obstacles is equally so.
An obstacle may be in the form of a stool, for example, placed where she usually crawls to encourage her to pull up to stand instead.
Sometimes, it may not be so much as making obstacles, but making the most of them by learning from them. Just the other day I started introducing my baby to an open glass cup for drinking and for our first try, we had a spill. But we were also able to do cleaning up—which she enjoyed as much.
4. Make Order
Our house is far from all the pictures I have saved on Houzz (another overworked app), but it has enough order so much so that my child knows where to get the rhythm instruments when I start singing “You Are My Sunshine” and she knows where the books are when I ask for “Suky the Kitten”.
My daughter’s Care of Self Shelf in her bathroom gives her the opportunity to learn grooming. She recognizes the routine and would take a towel to wipe her mouth after meals. She’s also been helping to get diapers and putting clothes into the hamper.
Establishing routine is part of making order, too. All to help the child make sense of the world and to respond to, as Montessori puts it, the child’s natural sensitivity for order.
5. Make Obvious Acts of Love, Kindness, Respect, Integrity
In Montessori, we make a presentation of just about everything to show the children how to do a task and to show grace and courtesy. We model everything–working with the materials, contributing to the community, living with morals.
As parents, we are in the best position to do this!
6. Make Own Original Songs and/or Stories
I think every parent has made up a song or a story, like this story I made here.
I say this with some confidence because my husband, who would rather carry the weight of the world than carry a tune, has invented songs for our little girl. They’re fun. And in my case, when things get a little challenging, they help keep me fun.
7. Make At Least One Memory Daily
I read somewhere that mothers of young children are their time-keepers. I realized then that being responsible for my daughter’s daily schedule, I had to consciously make something out of her every day.
So, I started a One-Memory-A-Day journal. I feel like I owe it to her, to make sure that the first few years of her life, when a lot of her life is basically what I make of it, is meaningful and worthwhile.
It can be as simple as this entry: Today we opened the window to let in the breeze. I lifted my arms to welcome the wind and you did the same. We watched the birds fly by. It seems like they’re flying nearer everyday. It looks like they’re beginning to see that we are friends.
And along the way, yes, we try to “Make Magic”.