Montessori parenting is raising a child in a way that aligns with the principles of educating children that were coined by Maria Montessori over 100 years ago. Maria Montessori was a doctor-turned-educator that noticed some fundamental flaws with the standardised education system- many elements that she disliked are still in use today.
While they are entirely separate concepts, there is sure some crossover between Montessori parenting and gentle parenting. I like to think they go hand-in-hand. As a mother myself, I do not apply any strict philosophy to my own parenting. I navigate my way through each day largely on instinct, but I’d like to think a lot of what I’ve read about both Montessori and gentle parenting have influenced my decision making overall.
Firstly, it’s not all or nothing. Remember, the works of Maria Montessori were designed to be applied in educational settings- establishments like nurseries, day-care and schools where children are focussed and have a clear goal to learn while they are in the classroom. For that reason, when we speak of “Montessori parenting” it is actually to be taken much more lightly, as we must also remember that a child’s home space is going to be very different to their learning space.
As a new mum, I didn’t know what Montessori was. Someone mentioned it to me in a natural parenting Facebook group when my first son, Benedykt was around 10 months old. Since before being a mum, I have always been interested in a natural way of living, favouring home-made shampoos over popular store-bought versions, so I had already become acquainted in some Natural Parenting groups in my social media.
This quickly led to me learning about Elimination Communication – in a nutshell, that is where you help your baby use a potty/toilet from birth – and from there, I was signposted to a Montessori parenting group. I joined because I was told that it incorporates natural parenting, gentle parenting and a follow-the-child ethos. I was definitely interested!
From joining Facebook groups and learning from peers, you can also read hundreds of books about Montessori at home. While I was always an avid reader in my younger years, I can’t lie, mum life has not allowed me much time for reading. I will be honest with you: I’ve never read more than 3 chapters of a Montessori parenting book! As with the way it is now in the 21st Century, a lot of my learning has taken place online in a rapid format, through social media, groups, blogs and vlogs.
I will now tell you where I found the most valuable information over the last 5 years, that I can truly say have influenced my parenting and have made a difference to me as a mum, and ultimately the way I connect with my three children.
Montessori blogs are amazing! The thing I love most about Montessori blogs is that you just have to sign up and you get some amazing Montessori tips right to your email inbox. Through the Montessori blogs I read, I have met and connected with some incredible moms around the globe. I find this method of delivery, by email, really useful as I can eventually use my own inbox as a search engine to find information about specific things quickly. Kylie at How We Montessori sends regular emails which you can either read on-the-go or return to for more detail later on. Kylie always includes her top-picks of the topic at hand, and always gives honest rounded reviews of the products she uses. Her activity ideas are great!
Sylvia Arotin of Guide & Grow is truly an inspiration. Sylvia is an award-winning Montessori teacher, director of a Sydney Montessori School and an inspirational business woman. The best thing about Guide & Grow email blogs is that they always make me go "Oh, that's why [child] does that!" as I find Sylvia always hits the nail on the head when it comes to child psychology.
If you’re not a reader, then Vlogging might be your thing. When Sylvester was nearing 18 months old, we had a trip planned that included four 3-4 hour flights. As a family, we are committed to keeping screen-time to a very low level, and even if we didn’t, we didn’t have a device suitable to use. So after searching online for ways in which to keep our two young toddlers occupied during the flights, I came across Gemma from The Hidden Gem on YouTube. The first video of Gemma’s that I found was an amazing in-flight toddler activity pack that she created. The best thing about Gemma’s video was the fact that she included a shopping list, where she provided links to everything she’d used in the video. It was a gamechanger, and I excitedly purchased everything on the list and made the activity pack up. Both boys LOVED it, and we have used it on all flights we’ve taken since!
I reached out to Gemma not long after the success we had with the activity pack, and I am so glad I did as we have since become good friends. You can also find Gemma on Instagram here.
Another way to find great Montessori content is through smaller snippets of information such as on Facebook or Instagram posts. I could probably list hundreds of my favourite Instagram accounts to follow, that offer fantastic Montessori aligned parenting tips and advice, but here’s my favourites!
BringingUpBabe is all about the family of a little girl who is close in age to Sylvester. Her instagram account is full of brilliant and simple Montessori aligned activity ideas to do with your child, but also incorporates a lot of practical life, cooking with toddlers and nature adventures! We have followed Babe for so long that my boys recognise her and love to see her videos.
Emily at Made to Montessori is a mum of three and is a Montessori DIY guru! She is also a brilliant source of knowledge for Christian AND Montessori aligned material - I love her book recommendations for that reason!
Montessori and Us is brilliant for showing practical ways of incorporating Maria Montessori's principles directly into your parenting and your home. Sarah, who runs the account is a wonderful mother & is so knowledgable about the Montessori lifestyle. I enjoy her educational snippets very much.
While I started out my Montessori parenting journey on Facebook, I really have to stress that it might not be the best place for everyone to learn. Facebook groups are can be difficult places as they are busy with peers who are also on learning journeys. Moderators work very hard at keeping Montessori groups free of poor advice, but the reality is you can’t always be certain of the source of the advice you might be taking. With that caution noted, I can recommend 3 Facebook groups that take Montessori advice very seriously, and are backed by extremely hardworking and professional moderating teams.
Another solid way to get yourself educated about Montessori is through paid online courses. I took a course in 2020 ran by Aubrey Hargis of Child of the Redwoods, and it was worth every penny. Aubrey is a brilliant, gentle teacher herself who dedicates her whole life to teaching the true ethos of Montessori education, and this dedication shows in her approach to learners. Aubrey is available to connect with on a 121 basis, too, so this communication with her was absolutely invaluable. I would highly recommend her homeschooling course to anyone considering homeschooling children between 3 and 6 years old.
While I am a firm believer that you don't need lots of lovely resources to do Montessori, there are some things you might want to equip yourself with. I will be publishing a blog about where to buy authentic and Montessori aligned materials really soon. Sign up to the mailing list at the bottom of the page to be notified about that, coming soon! Of course, in the meantime, you can visit my shop. Every product we sell has been designed by myself with my own boys in mind.
Another way to be more prepared for teaching in a Montessori way is by having a subscription full of Montessori aligned actives and teaching resources, ready to go out of the box, delivered to your door every month, two months or quarter. Check out Montessori Subscription Boxes by Benedykt & Sylvester here.
Parenting is not something you can really plan in advance for. It is the hardest yet most rewarding job in the world. Every day is different, and you don't have to be perfect. Your child will love you throughout all the highs and lows, and there will be lows. Take comfort in knowing that emotions are natural, and use those times full of big emotions (yours, and theirs), to teach that very fact. You don't have to know what to do before it happens, and there's always another chance. Remember that you're not alone; and you can always reach out for help, there is no shame in that.
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