The importance of the formative first six years of life is mere common knowledge. During this time the child becomes a member of his/her particular culture and family group, absorbing language, attitudes, manners, values, of those adults, which the child comes in contact with everyday.
I would submit that for most parents, we would agree that a child who spends these formative years in a loving and supportive environment learn to love themselves and feel safe in the world. A child who experiences the joy of contributing to their family or community learns to love making an effort, and feels worthy. We also know, providing this kind of environment for a child is the desire of every Montessori parent and contributes profoundly to your choice in school.
Children, by instinct, want to learn and grow to the limit of their abilities…
To support this need we must purposefully prepare the physical and social environment, provide the tools that enable the child to work to create himself, watch for moments of concentration, and remove ourselves, following the child as his path unfolds.
It is our conviction that the tools we present to initiate a supportive home environment are keys to help you achieve the goal you desire as a parent.
1. Learn to observe the child. As the child grows and changes with each new stage of development, it is important that the adults and home environment change as well. Observe the child. Take a few minutes everyday to notice the small details of your child’s life (e.g., how he uses language, how he chooses a snack from the refrigerator, etc.). Journaling these moments can help bring greater understanding and allow you to discuss these observations with your partner. Your reflections on matters such as your child’s emotional development, physical needs, changing eating habits, academic interests, likes and dislikes, friends, activities around the house, and sibling dynamics will prepare you to support your child’s constant development. Among other things, they will enable you to rethink freedoms and liberties, limits and structure, and materials and activities.
2. Have realistic expectations for your child. Parents can find themselves frustrated with their child when an expectation is placed on the child that they can’t do yet. In other words, some parents expect children to act or respond like grown-ups, but they’re not. It is best not to expect too much from your child. Instead, learn what to expect from your child at each age by reading a book or talking to a professional. Young children are very egocentric and will sometimes have a tendency to be demanding, selfish and even impolite. Don’t expect them to naturally know how to behave appropriately in every social setting. Use these moments to “teach” by modeling to the child what to do next time.
3. Listen. From birth, children tell or show you what they need and want. When we place our own desires, concerns, and expectations aside, adults are better able to understand the need of the child. Children frequently know what they need more accurately than adults who care for them. To better meet the needs of the child, One should practice to be slow to speak and quick to listen.
4. Become a positive role model for your child. When you display kindness, patience, acceptance, and forgiveness to your child, you demonstrate the true meaning of unconditional love while also providing your child with a positive role model for healthy current and future relationships with others.
5. Be affectionate. Tell and show your child how much you love him or her. Physical touch and affection is very important for a child’s development. If you show your child a great deal of affection, he or she will become secure knowing how you feel and will treat others affectionately.
6. Recognize and support the unique temperament traits of your child. Temperament is the way that a child responds and interacts with people, materials, and situations in his world. Temperament differences between babies can he seen when they are as young as 4 months old. Although research indicates that individual’s temperament traits may only vary modestly throughout life, parents can help their children to adapt their temperaments to their surroundings.
7. Slow down and work at your child’s own pace. In our fast pace society, its easy to over schedule the day. Permit your child to fully absorb and reflect upon his activities. Quiet, unscheduled, uninterrupted time allows your child to establish his own internal rhythm and develop his own stream of consciousness. Due to your child’s growing understanding of himself and the world around him, he is able to reflect on activities and events of the day with depth and focus.
8. Understand children under age 4 may still prefer to play alone or parallel play as they did as toddlers. If so, the child may prefer to sometimes interact with an adult instead of other children. Be aware that this may frustrate other children, or have difficulty understanding this orientation. However, it is important that the adult not force the child to interact with the other children until the child feels comfortable and display developmental readiness.
9. When all else fails, use humor. Have a sense of humor about your mistakes. This grace will teach your child the importance of accepting one’s own errors during challenging times.
To learn more about Montessori in the Home, join us for our first Parent Education Night, Thursday, September 12th at 6:30pm in Room 2. Childcare will be available for parents. Register here.