This week I met up with Stacey Band, assistant director and lead Montessori Guide at Broad Branch Children's House in Washington DC to share how she built a supportive home for her 16 month old, E. Make sure you scroll to the bottom to see her resource recommendations for parents!
Leanne: Hey Stacey! Tell us about your Montessori journey and why you choose this method for raising your daughter.
Stacey: Montessori has been my life for the last 8 years, while, I became intrigued by the concepts and Montessori form of education 13 years ago, I completed my training and started my own Primary classroom for 2 1/2-6 year olds in Fall of 2009.
Montessori education provides children with rich, hands-on learning experiences that allow them to develop skills and understand concepts in a manner which speaks to their interests and abilities.
Children are often times able to understand "bigger" concepts because they learned the components and were involved in the process. The process is where the learning takes place. Montessori education honors where children are and allows them opportunities (and time) to learn at their own pace on their own, through an individualized curriculum.
Time and again I have watched this form of education be successful for other peoples' children, so bringing it home for my own child and enrolling her in a Montessori school program were easy decisions.
What does a typical day look like for your family?
Currently, my daughter is 16 months, and our typical weekday looks like this. It will change slightly for summer:
And our weekends typically look like this:
In total, my daughter sleeps approximately 10-11 hours at night, naps typically 1.5 hours in the afternoon, and due to our long commute into the city, she typically sleeps approximately 45 minutes - 1 hour in the evening.
Also, it's important to note the similarities in the two schedules. The consistency allows our daughter to continue to know what to expect throughout the day because her routines are pretty consistent, even if the environment is different. When we travel, she is very flexible because enough components of her routine are the same, I.e. our approach to meals, feedings, diaper changes, bedtime, etc. are THE SAME!
What's been your favorite part of creating a Montessori home?
The predictable routines that my child is involved in, familiar with, and confident in willingly participating BECAUSE she is PART OF THE PROCESS. And, she often times has choices, whenever it is possible.
What do you wish you had known in the beginning?
In the beginning of my teaching career, I wish I had known how POWERFUL and MEANINGFUL a Montessori education could be for a child. Time and feedback from former students' parents has highlighted that many of the benefits are lasting.
Do you have books, videos, articles, or websites you'd recommend for getting started with Montessori at Home?
Oh yes! Here's my top recommendations:
What do you wish parents knew about Montessori at Home?
It can be EASY to implement and welcome Montessori-based components into your home-life routines.
Parents always ask about how they can support their child's learning and involvement at home without duplicating their school experience. The "simple" answer is to figure out how your child can help, be part of the process, make choices, and feel empowered.
How is a Montessori education different?
Montessori education encourages children to be curious, love learning, have a desire to learn more, and how to ask questions to feed their curiosity. It encourages children to explore, embrace, lead, be a member of a community, how to care for themselves, others, and their environment. When children are active participants, they are more engaged, receptive, and responsible.
Montessori education allows children to develop skills at their own pace by feeding their desire to learn (and play) based on their individual needs and interests. The standard curriculum is presented as children show signs of readiness and slight modifications can be made to entice children or draw their interest.
For example, a child who loves trains may not be interested in learning "language" or how to read or write; however he or she may be interested in parts of a train, how the cars fit together, the purpose of each type of train car.
Through matching objects to images, learning the names of each, train tracing activities, I spy games, counting games, and beginning letter sound activities; a child can learn many more concepts than they realize.
Thanks to Stacey for sharing her knowledge and experiences! If you have questions for her, or want to thank her yourself, you can email her here.
Leanne Gray, M.Ed is the owner of The Prepared Environment, which supports families in creating an ideal environment for their children at home. She has over fifteen years experience working with children in both public, private, and Montessori schools, and is AMI primary trained. You can always contact her for personalized support and answers to your questions