How to Apply Montessori Principles at Home

This article is part of a video series with Sharon Rajan, a teacher at Montessori School, Bali. Sharon has over 3o years of experience teaching children 3-6 years in Montessori schools in the US and Canada.

Dr. Linnea: So I mean, this is wonderful. I’m wondering what age, like, when do you expect this to happen? Because, for example, I have three children in Montessori, and I’m constantly frustrated with the mess that they’re making. And I understand, like I understand this is a stress for a lot of mothers and, you know, with time I guess it will change a little bit, but how do you survive?

Sharon: For me, one of the keys was, one day I kind of looked around the bedroom, they were sharing a bedroom, and I looked around the bedroom and I thought, “There’s just too much. There are too many things for them to manage.” And so what I started to do was I put half of their toys into a suitcase and I put it up on top of the cupboard and half was out. This, they were able to manage. So sometimes, it’s just too much, right? But I mean, the toddlers do it, right? If everything has its place, they can do it. So I would say it’s a matter of toning it down a little bit, not having so much. And then, you know, one of the things that parents also have said to me a lot is that they want this, and they want this, and they want this. I found with my children…partly living in Rwanda there weren’t any toy stores, so that was my saving grace. But because I packed some of it away, when I brought the new things out, it was like, “Oh, I remember this.” It was exciting, the excitement had built again. If they’ve got the same stuff out all the time, it gets boring after a while, right? But if you can take some of it away and sort of rotate things on a regular…and the older child can be part of the bringing things out, “Oh, I’d like this out. Oh, how about this? Don’t want that.” You know, they can become a part of it eventually, and it becomes part of who they are, that you don’t have to have thousands of everything, right? That’s a good thing to build as well, build upon, right?

Dr. Linnea: Well, I think also, you know, coming here and seeing how the children interact in a Montessori environment, it’s just completely different…

Sharon: It’s mind-blowing. It’s mind-blowing because you’ve got 20-odd children in here, and it works.

Dr. Linnea: And their order, they keep everything tidy, and you can actually see that they enjoy doing it.

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Written by Dr. Linnea Passaler

A surgeon and mom of a three, all currently under the age of five, Dr. Linnea is MamaDoctor's founder. She believes healthy virtual spaces where people can share their honest concerns and get help from knowledgeable, trustworthy sources, change lives for the better. She is an advocate for maternal mental health and wellbeing.