Hey guys! I'm blogging over at EcoChic this summer...you should totally go check out their site and see what they're all about. If wellness and supporting local businesses is your thing - EcoChic is definitely the place to be!
Be honest – when you found out you were pregnant with your first kid, you were totally overwhelmed by all the information out there on parenting.
The sheer amount of information available is commensurate to how badly we want to do one particular thing:
We want to grow our children.
If you haven’t found this out yet, I hate to burst your bubble…
…but there is no right way to parent. No bonafied, 100% proven effective method of parenting exists (as far as I’m aware).
There are plenty of wrong ways though, right? Maddening, isn’t it?
My son is nineteen months old, and the method we employ is what I like to call ‘Montessori-inspired’ learning. A lot of the early activities are based on sensory play, as that’s the way Montessori believed children learn.
(Honesty: One reason I call this ‘Montessori-inspired’ because many Montessori materials are expensive, and you can make your own versions for much less.)
Why did I go Montessori? There are things I’ve noticed about the younger generation (totally weird saying that…I’m only 31, after all!) that worry the crap out of me. If it doesn’t have to do with technology, many of them don’t know how to function…which is ironic in this age where technology reigns, and we want them to know ALL THE THINGS.
We focus too much on ‘more, better, best’, and not enough on purposeful living. We focus too much on instant information, and not enough on ingrained knowledge.
The basic principle of the Montessori Method can be summed up in five words:
Let me do it myself.
Babies and children are capable of way more than we give them credit for. I have watched infants reach to drink from a ‘grown-up’ cup, and rather than the parent let them explore and learn the task, they have moved the cup away for fear of it being spilled.
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that children have very natural, innate directives for learning and developing that we often impede by trying to teach them the way (and at the pace) that we think they should learn. Instead, especially in early development, we should observe their interests at any given moment and encourage them to explore them further.
For example…one day you notice your child is suddenly extremely interested in peek-a-boo. Developmentally, they are learning something called ‘object permanace,’ so this would be the perfect time to present activities regarding object permanance. Cups with balls hidden underneath, a box with a slotted lid to drop coins into…simple things.
Going a step further, children also thrive when they are made to feel included – even in what we may see as the most mundane tasks. They thoroughly enjoy purposeful activity.
Simplicity really is the beauty of this method. (Besides…we have kids so we have more people to take over chores, right? *wink*)
Early childhood development is much about simplifying the child’s environment so that they are free to explore and encouraged to concentrate. Less is more – and quality, natural materials are the best to use whenever available. Not only does this keep your child from being distracted by ‘too much’, it also teaches them to respect what they have.
My favorite part? This method is about identifying a childs gifts and strengths and nurturing those rather than chastising them in areas where they may not ‘measure up’ to some standard that we created as a society.
We all prefer to do what we love as adults, right? What we love is what we’re good at…it is where we excel.
The same goes for children.
This is all really just the tip of the iceburg, but it was my jumping off point. I have watched my son thrive in this method, and I really do enjoy learning right along with him!
The wonder on a child’s face as they learn is completely priceless. Encourage it!