Saving time was not my intention when I read Maria Montessori’s book The Absorbent Mind. However, an internet ‘pal’ gave me the idea when they said:
“I saw your website, you should savor your kids’ childhood, not save time!”
A lightbulb went off, you could use Montessori’s theories to save time watching your kids.
I have tried applying Montessori’s ideas to my own children, and I’m surprised at how independent they have become. I have no complaints (yet).
Despite my praise, let me make a mention that despite Maria Montessori claiming to be scientific, she did not do any scientific studies. She used anecdotal evidence/case studies and Freud’s theories. For instance she claimed that letting family members hold a newborn baby will make them permanently unhappy. However a broken clock is right twice a day, and I am happy to share her method that worked to make my kid independent (and save me time). Since, there is some evidence of Montessori’s methods being beneficial, but its difficult to know how reliable the evidence is.
I “stay in the center of the circle”, we do some Montessori and some traditional education.
Humans adapt to their surroundings, and children are designed to adapt even better. Wherever your children spend time, they will adapt to. If your playroom requires asking for help to get toys from a closed toybox, your children will ask for help. If your children can access the toys, they will get toys themselves.
This can be expanded to getting clothes, going to the bathroom, and getting snacks. If the kid can independently access these, they will begin doing these by themselves after little instruction. Children typically like independence.
If your kid doesn’t like independence, ask ‘Do you need help? Or are you going to do it all by yourself?”. If they need help, I make sure the kid goes through the entire process, so they didn’t get the easy way out.
You job is to make an environment that teaches your kid independence and habits you like. I don’t like when my kid watches mindless YouTube videos, so I make that impossible to access. On the flip side, I make interactive toys easy to access. Before they wake up, or get home from daycare, I’ll clean our living room and place the toys I want them to use in the open. I don’t force them, but they will often go right for it.
Montessori says not to interfere unless they are being unsafe. This is your opportunity to save time.
I’m sure there is a bunch of Montessori toy suggestions, but from her book she suggests using child size, real/working, useful objects like a duster. If that list was too short, people have extrapolated and decided interactive toys are preferred over passive toys. This means things like Stackadoos, Megablocks, Magna Tiles, Duplos, and blocks are better than toys that light up and talk.
No Affiliate links, no preference, I’d try to get these for free/used/offbrand because its Efficient.
If you see your kid concentrating or struggling, let them keep at it. They build concentration, learn new things, and you save time.
Call this as unscientific as Maria’s original thoughts. I’m using her suggestions in the 21st century. Maria says to put your kid in the environment that they will grow up in. We are in a tech world, I’d be doing a disservice to have our kid grow up without technology.
I brainwash my infant with phonics and numbers. We have a 25 minute video that says the letter, sound, and word associated with that letter. I made a shortplaylist of quite a few similar videos to give you an idea(Thanks Steven C. for the suggestion). I manually skip the videos if there is non-educational stuff after. We watch 0 Disney/fiction/fun videos. Honorable mention to Alphablocks, Numberblocks, and maybe Peg+Cat. By 15 months old, our kid could point at a letter and tell us the letter and sound. At 2.5 years, he can sound out words. It took me until 5 years old to do that. On a similar note he can do addition by counting on his fingers. (If you think its cringe to hear anecdotes, I don’t recommend Maria Montessori’s books)
I also let our kid use an old smart phone and play games. He actively plays these games, and they won’t let him progress without counting or matching. He knows his way around Android OS.
Links to favorite games:
For 0 and up(Specifically the ‘Baby game’ for 0 year olds)-
For 1 year olds(All their games are free)-
For 2 year olds-
I wouldn’t read anything from Maria Montessori. Her fans will claim ‘she was from a different age of science’. We had nuclear weapons when Absorbent Mind was released, no excuses.
I don’t have great advice other than the standard “Read from 5 different authors” or a ‘Hear from 10 different sources’. I think you will ‘get it’, and they will likely filter out the Freud theory.