Getting started with Montessori at home is easier when done in community! That's why our program experts built Family Framework, a Montessori parenting hub designed around connecting our Montessori educators with families and caregivers. Our guides encourage families to get situated with these 5 steps for cultivating a Montessori framework at home:
Plan Your Day
The first step is to establish a daily schedule for your family. A good schedule grounds a child’s sense of order, brings harmony to a family co-existing in a household, and fosters foresight and independence.
- Use our sample family schedule as a starting point, and put together the schedule building blocks in whatever way makes the most sense for you.
- Agree on the schedule with all other adults in your home, including assigning ownership for adult responsibilities that may be associated with each building block within the schedule.
- After all adults agree on the family schedule, you can use it to set expectations with your child and create a sense of stability.
Parent Tip: Before you build your own schedule, first observe your family's natural rhythms so that you are offering structure in a way that complements your children's current needs – not in a way that competes.
Educator Tip: You can think of your child’s daily schedule as consisting of key building blocks of time that almost every family will have in some form, but which may be put together in different ways. The following building blocks are a good basis for a functional family schedule:
- Early morning routine
- Montessori-style family work periods
- Self-service snack
- Circle Time or Small Group Lessons
This Fall, join our free Morning Gatherings on Family Framework or enroll in Guidepost Montessori Virtual School for daily small group lessons + afternoon extracurriculars + home delivery of Montessori material kits.
- Outdoor excursion or indoor movement
Access Sample At-Home Schedule Here.
Communicate Clear Expectations
Comfort comes from clarity. The clearer and more consistent we are in sharing and reinforcing our plans and expectations, the more successful any in-home experience with your child will be. With the introduction of a new routine, start by explaining to your child that he or she is going to be working from home, why that is, what that will look like, and what it means.
- Be honest, factual, and calm about your child's new at-home routine, whether it’s a temporary situation or a more permanent state of affairs. Your child will be relying on your words and tone to understand the context.
- Give your child a “tour” of any physical spaces or activities you have prepared. “Here’s where you can sit to work. All your materials should stay inside this space. Here’s where your materials should be put away when you are finished. Here’s where I will be sitting to do my own work during the day.”
- Start each day by explaining to your child what is going to happen that day with simple language. “First we will have breakfast together. Then I will need to do some work, so I will help you get started with your own work, and we will both do our own work. Then we will have a chance to take a walk and have some lunch. Then it will be time for a nap.”
Parent Tip: Now that you'll be spending much more time together with an at-home routine, identify your boundaries, too!
Educator Tip: The more you explain to your child what is happening next, the more your child will feel a sense of understanding and control. You’ll have a much easier time with transitions of any kind if your child knows in advance what to expect.
Access our guide on expectations here.
Lean in to Your Family's Emerging Routines
Now that you've created a framework and communicated related expectations with your child, it's time to bring your framework to life with predictable routines. A routine is a specific, worked out way of achieving a regular task – for example, the routine of sitting on a bench near the door to put on and remove shoes, or all of the small steps involved in serving, eating, and cleaning up after a snack. For each building block of your family’s daily schedule, take the first few days to establish the routine for that building block:
- The best routine is one that your child can do independently. You may have to set up the physical spaces in your home in a way that maximizes the number of steps that your child is able to do for herself. If you want your child to get up and brush her teeth, you’ll need to modify your bathroom so that it is possible for her get to the things she needs.
- To introduce a new routine, model each step for your child and invite your child to practice. For example, with toothbrushing, show your child how to open and close the toothpaste, and then let her try for herself. She can’t get it just from watching — she needs to try with her own hands.
- Leave everything set up the same way every day. Young children think very concretely. When they see physical spaces and objects set out in a particular way that they know, that will trigger the routine that your child has practiced. Make sure the items you want your child to use are always set up in the same place and in the same order (the order in which your child will use them).
Parent Tip: Phrasing and tone matters when guiding our children through the day's transitions. To avoid power struggles, get in the habit of neutrally stating what comes next rather than telling the child what they must do. Instead of, "You need to get dressed," try, "After breakfast, it will be time to get dressed."
Educator Tip: Don’t talk while you are modeling. It’s more powerful for your child to watch what you are doing than to listen to what you are saying.
Access our guide on routines here.
Prepare Your Child's Workspace
External order creates internal order! A big part of setting your child up to work independently at home is to set up a physical place that meets all of her needs. She needs a defined place to sit – either a table or a small mat on the floor – where she will keep all of the materials she is using. She needs accessible shelves of whatever general supplies she might need. She needs each activity that is open to her to be set up in its own box, basket, or tray, with all of the necessary pieces present.
You can invest in your child’s space in a way that will make her engaged – not over or under stimulated – and that will maximize her independence.
Access our Prepared Home Environment guide here.
Start Activity Planning
When you have completed these four foundational steps, you are ready to establish a daily/weekly rhythm of activity planning that will challenge your child in developmentally meaningful ways, lengthen his or her attention span, build persistence, enhance cognition, and bring peace and purpose to your home.
Go here for all things activity planning, as curated by our Montessori educators.
Guidepost Montessori is a a global network of schools serving 3,500+ families with early education programs, including Emergency Care for Essential Workers (ECEW) during the COVID-19 crisis. Looking for more free content? Download Guidepost Parent from the App Store for personalized Montessori inspiration and activities.