Montessori education doesn't begin at 8:30 am and end at 3:30 pm. Montessori is education for life. Therefore, it is crucial that the behaviors that we expect in our Montessori classrooms are reflected in our homes as well. Many parents have asked me "What's your magic? My children behave so well for you, but at home, it's a completely different story. What works in your Montessori classroom, doesn't work at home."
My question is, "why not?" I don't profess to have a magic wand, and I don't rule with an iron fist. I do have clear cut, well-defined classroom expectations (see, I don't even use the word "rules") that my class develops at the beginning of the year. If what you're doing doesn't respect self, others, or the environment, then it's not acceptable behavior.
Over the years, I've helped parents realize that they, too, can have a peaceful environment at home. Here are a few tips:
Bringing Montessori Values Home for a Peaceful Life
- Say a kind word to each family member every day, especially if it's a tense or stressful time.
- Remember to notice and praise good [peaceful] behavior.
- Slip an "I love you" note inside lunchboxes or backpacks.
- Monitor the TV, video games, books, and internet activities of your children.
- Perform a community service activity as a family.
- Purchase peaceful gifts instead of violent toys. (Think "What will my children learn from receiving this toy?")
- Do activities as a family. (If everyone pitches in to help clean the house, then everyone can go have fun together.)
- Talk openly about family issues before they get out of hand.
- Choose words that will de-escalate rather than escalate situations.
- Use active listening skills when others are talking.
- Ask your children (and your spouse) "What was the best part about your day? What was the saddest thing that happened today?" rather than "How was your day?" It will invite a more honest conversation and lets them know you genuinely care about what happened to them while you were apart.
- Get to know your children's friends.
- Encourage honesty.
- Reach out to each other when they are sad or upset.
- Try to laugh together each day.
- Read a book aloud together, no matter how old your children are.
- Set aside a family game night to celebrate being together as a family.
- Eat dinner together as often as possible, turning off the television, radio, and phone. Then, help each other clean up and do the dishes.
- Give hugs. Often!
- Say "I love you" even more often.
Changing your environment takes time; it doesn't happen overnight. But what changes arise will no doubt be beneficial to all.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Sunday, February 24, 2008.