Montessori Baby Steps

Look who just woke up from a 2 hour nap!

Look who just woke up from a 2 hour nap!

Today went by really smoothly. It was rainy, so I planned on staying in. We had a productive morning, and I got my morning routine done ahead of schedule. Gideon took a 2 hour nap in the late morning, which meant I got some “me time”.  I spent it getting ready for the day at my own leisure, prepping dinner in the crock pot, and doing some reading.

Gideon wears Socks

Gideon brought me these socks and signed “help”. He kept them on for a long while!

Three socks, two feet. Hmm...

Three socks, two feet. Hmm…

Like I said, I had planned to stay in today, but Gideon had other plans.

I can take a hint!

Instead of going for a walk with thunder and rain threatening, we made a pharmacy run, and then hit the library. I had to rush home from story time yesterday and wasn’t able to check out any new books for Gideon, so today was library book day.

I’m looking forward to switching out his current book stash in the living room for the new ones we picked up today. I keep 3 or 4 books in a basket under a shelf I have set up specifically for Gideon’s toys. I’m trying my hand at the Montessori method of playing and learning, and so far I like it. Here’s a picture I took the night I set up his first shelf.

Gideon's first Montessori toy setup. Ready to be explored in the morning.

Gideon’s first Montessori toy setup. Ready to be explored in the morning.

These were the only toys available to him on the first floor. Gideon first day of Montessori was a total success. He sat on the black mat and looked at his choices. He grabbed his dog of course, because that’s what he does in the morning – snuggles a stuffed animal. And then he went straight for the container that had a police car and a train in it. The “transportation bin” if you may. He’s been obsessed with everything that goes, so I wasn’t surprised. I decided to leave him alone to explore this new setup. I made breakfast and by then, he had taken to pushing his wagon cart around with the train inside. I was over the moon thrilled when I saw that he had put the car right back where he found it! He totally got it!

Montessori baby in the making. Success!

Montessori baby in the making. Success!

This is the moment I knew we were on to something good. Gideon saw that each toy was set on a specific place on the shelf. He decided to play with the car and train. He thought he’d play with the car some other time, so he put it back in its spot. Amazing.

I’m nowhere close to being skillful at Montessori. I’m sure the skilled would have page long lists of what I’m missing or doing wrong. But Gideon was successful at something, and that means more to me than following any single method to a T! What I’ve learned, I’ve learned from my mother who is an all-time Montessori expert. I’ve always found it interesting, and loved observing her little ones be so focused and pleased with knowing what is expected of them.

I couldn’t help but realize how Gideon grew bored of his toys very quickly when they were strewn throughout the living room.  I also put myself in his shoes and realized that maybe the messy living room stressed him out and was no fun, just like a messy room is stressful and no fun for me!

Up until the beginning of the month we’d done a few things in taking steps towards simplifying his life and helping him enjoy play more. We tried to keep the amount of toys to has to a reasonable amount, and were doing consistent toy rotation. But we found ourselves rotating toys a little too frequently. We brainstormed, and came to the conclusion that just like Gideon thrives with structure and routines, he might benefit from the same in play time. We want Gideon to enjoy his toys, and explore them. It’s also a big deal for us that Gideon learns to respect and take care of his belongings. One of the main pulls towards trying Montessori is that it promotes independence, responsibility, simplicity, and peace in structure. Not to mention it teaches children how nice it is to live without clutter around them. All things we want for Gideon to learn early on!

Just as with everything else, we will take things from the Montessori method and adapt things to what Gideon needs as an individual. He has been less “boredom whiny”, and although we have some harder days than others, he is better able to clean up after himself when it’s not such a daunting task, and he knows where each item belongs. I’ll probably modify as he matures, but for now, the simpler the better.

If you take nothing else from this entry, just remember that a cluttered play space is a cluttered mind for your child, just like a cluttered house is for you. And

Help me do it myself

 

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