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How can I help my child learn at home?

Montessori at home

Parents frequently ask me for activities they can do with their children at home. I find many of my parents are keen to assist in their Child’s development, to better prepare them for entry into full time education.

My answer is always the same. Have fun with them. Play. Connect them with nature as much as you can. And if they can learn something whilst doing this, you are headed in the right direction.

Steer clear of trying to teach your child. You may find they resist. Set your home up for your children and introduce the right materials to your child spaces and let them learn.

Learn from you, their play and their surroundings. Here’s a beginner’s guide to introducing a touch of Montessori into your home. You don’t have to be ‘into’ Montessori education to reap the benefits.

 

So where do I start?

ONE. Your child’s room.

A great place to begin is with your child’s special space. Their bedroom.  Look at the room from the child’s perspective. Can they reach the light switch, turn on music or stories to listen to? Is there a special place for them to keep their favourite objects?

Fostering IndependenceChoose child size furniture. Make sure they have a child size table and chair where they can sit and do activities. Hang artwork low so they have a chance of seeing it.

Include low shelving in their spaces so that they can store their toys and books and have access to these without asking for your help. An accessible wardrobe is important where they can help to select their own clothes. And a low bed that they can get in and out of.

Include materials in the room to stimulate your child’s interest. Such as a rich selection of picture books as well as great rhyming stories and non-fiction books such as a children’s atlas to read together.

Look for toys and materials that are age appropriate for them. Wooden puzzles with large knobs are great for developing eye and hand co-ordination and pincer grip.

A low mirror at baby’s eye level alongside the floor bed can be endlessly engaging for visual stimulation. Your child can get feedback on what their body and face is doing. By lying on their stomach, they also strengthen arm, leg and neck muscles.

The aim is to foster independence.

 

TWO. Play space.

If you have a dedicated play space in another area of your house, follow similar principles as above. Low and accessible furniture, maybe a child sized table with chairs. Then choose toys, puzzles, books and games, which have an educational content.

Use these in a fun way. Don’t teach. Play and have fun. A few ideas of great materials to have.

A few ideas…

5 educational plays with a basket of plastic animals and matching picture cards.

1. Learn animal names,

2. Learn animal sounds and rhyme with other words. Moo and Shoe etc

3. Match animals to their matching picture cards,

4. Later on sort into groups of animals beginning with the same sound i.e. cat cow etc,

5. Count animals out onto a number card.

I can instantly think of numerous educational ways you can play with a basket of animals, which can cost as little as £1. Look on pinterest and you can quite often find matching animal cards and other activities to extend their learning.

Montessori puzzle

Colour and shape matching

5 educational plays with a BigJigs shape matching board.

1. Use to identify and name shapes, i.e square and circle.  Ask them if they can spot other shapes in their environment that are the same.

2. Use to identify and name colors, green, red, blue etc.

3. Develop pincer grip and coordination by picking up and replacing shapes,

4. Trace around the shapes on paper to practice basic writing skills, this also helps to prepare for writing direction.

5. Use the puzzle shapes to draw and make different geometric patterns.

http://www.bigjigstoys.co.uk/p/shape-matching-board

 

Playing with tweezers and spoons. Great tools to play with and to help increase hand strength, pincer grip and eye and hand coordination skills. Have two small bowls and show the child how to pick up these small objects of dried pasta or beans/rice from one bowl and transfer them to the other bowl. This can then be extended, by using tweezers, which really help to develop eye and hand co-ordination. Maybe you are pretending to make soup together, or baking a cake.

Keep it real. Wooden toys are wonderful and complement the Montessori principles. Use real materials to play with where possible; fir cones, shells, flowers, sand, fossils and leaves.

Don’t overcrowd. Children don’t need boxes bursting with toys.

 

Snack time preparationTHREE: Kitchen

A low cupboard is essential to fill with your child’s bowls and cups so that they can help themselves.

Low preparation surface or a way for your child to assist with food prep activities is also extremely useful. Preparing to wash and chop vegetables with child-size cutlery can help pincer grip, counting and hand strength, as well as coordination skills. Can you put 2 green beans into this bowl?

With baking get the children to count out ingredients and mix the ingredients together, ensure you have child size wooden spoons, which can be brought cheaply.

Washing up in warm but not hot water, pouring improves coordination.

 

FOUR: Going out

Is there somewhere suitable for a low coat peg and an area for your child’s shoes so that they can get ready themselves?

Please give them the time and space to put on and take off their own coats and shoes.

 

Other things to do at home
How about having jolly phonics playing in the background so your child becomes familiar with sounds. Listening to nursery rhymes also helps to develop rhyme and rhythm and language skills. When most children start school they will often be introduced to phonics and lots of primary schools now use Jolly phonics. You can find lots of Free Jolly Phonics activities at.
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=jolly+phonics

Recommended reading
Learning Together. What Montessori can offer your family. By Kathi Hughes sold on Amazon for around £9.50.

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