Within the comfort of your home, you can conduct mindfulness activities for kids with the help of Montessori toys that have been scientifically proven to support baby brain development during the peak periods of growth from 0-6 years old.
Covid-19 pandemic has impacted everything. Our health, jobs, lifestyle and education of our kids.
Due to health safety issues, we are encouraged to stay home. So, homeschooling was encouraged more than ever.
Homeschooling has been around for years as an alternative form of education. But how about if we were planning to enroll our kids on Montessori schools? Can we achieve it in homeschool as well?
What makes Montessori a brain-based method
Since the early 2000s, neuropsychological research has been able to prove and visually present through brain imaging the benefits of Montessori philosophies.
Pediatric neuropsychologist Dr. Steve Hughes, chair of the Association Montessori International’s global research committee, dedicated years to study the impact of Dr. Maria Montessori’s method on baby brain development and his findings prove how it strengthens specific brain functions.
Here are some ways to prove that Montessori method is backed by science.
The Absorbent Mind is characterized in the Montessori method as the first 6 years of life, during which the child has a natural sponge-like capacity to take in and process information.
This philosophy matches more recent brain plasticity theories which describe the early years are marked by more brain plasticity, making it a period of effortless learning in the baby brain development timeline.
Modeling is described in Dr. Maria Montessori’s writings in the manner a teacher must conduct activities.
She emphasized clear demonstrations so the child can fully observe the teacher’s movements.
Neuroscience supports this with the discovery of “Mirror neurons,” a class of brain cells that activate both when the child is observing an action and replicating it.
This also reconnects with Montessori’s Absorbent Mind as it is a period during which they soak up and “mirror” everything they see others do.
Repetitive practice is another characteristic of the Montessori method as the child is engaged in hands-on activities with the goal of mastering a skill.
Dr. Montessori believed that “repetition is the secret of perfection,” and while we may not be sure about perfection, we are scientifically certain that practice strengthens neural connections.
“Pruning” in the brain physically changes its structure and is primarily affected by what neurons are repeatedly activated. This is a very crucial in baby brain development.
With Montessori hands-on repetitive practice, children can master skills more quickly and easily.
Key takeaway: Dr. Montessori’s philosophies of the Absorbent Mind, modeling, and repetitive practice are consistent with neurological findings for baby brain development.
How you can get started on Montessori at home
Many families have been successful in applying these methods, and with ease, because of the wide availability of resources such as core curricula, Montessori materials, and activity ideas that you can comfortably do at home.
Core curriculums to make your life easier
To save you from having to create your own Montessori curriculum (because yes, awesome homeschooling moms have been doing that for years), we have listed down some of the most trusted Montessori curriculum providers and why they may be perfect for you:
1. North American Montessori Center is perfect for those who are just starting out and wanting extensive information about what they’re getting into. Homeschoolers love that they get everything they need in one comprehensive package with easy-to-follow directions.
2. ETC Montessori is for those who want to approach it with a top-of-the-line global provider on their side even if it means shelling out a heavier investment. Partnered with renowned Montessori provider Nienhuis, homeschoolers can expect a wide collection of curricula to choose their interests from.
3. Edoki Academy is for those who can be flexible in trying out a Montessori-inspired digital platform. Classical Montessori materials like the wooden number rods, sandbox tracing, and sandpaper numerals have been made into digital versions that can be accessed through their apps. Homeschoolers can enjoy it for the accessibility and richer approach to music and arts.
4. Montessori for Everyone is for those who want a Montessori curriculum that is inclusive to children with special needs and which they can try out for free. Homeschoolers will love the 130+ free printable materials they can download instantly and print from their homes.
5. Shiller Learning is for those who need some extra help on Math and Language Arts. Homeschoolers love that they can get a diagnostic test to get placed at the right level and progress from there. Their Montessori-based curriculum kits also have a digital version if you already have the Montessori materials you need.
Key takeaway: When choosing a Montessori curriculum provider, note how they differ in what platforms they use and who they are optimal for.
Montessori materials and what to do with them
A Montessori classroom’s main features are the materials that can be classified according to areas of learning: sensory activities, practical life skills, and academics.
For sensory activities, many homeschooling families use Montessori toys in conducting mindfulness activities for kids. There is plenty of Montessori research backing the use of sensory activities to promote baby brain development.
- Ordinary household items for sensory play for real-life experience
- Wooden sensory bin tools like a mortar and pestle for grinding up spices allow children to develop not only their fine motor skills in handling the materials but also the concept of cause and effect as they discover that their actions are producing the smell they are sensing.
- Scoop and transfer activities with rice, pasta or cereals to enhance focus and attention.
- Wooden blocks of different shapes and sizes for pattern recognition and touch and feel activity. This is on the top of the list of must-haves Montessori toys.
- Nature walk can introduce different color, texture and scent. It provides a variety of sensory inputs for a child to experience and explore. It is also one of the perfect mindfulness activities for kids.
When young children concentrate on one of their senses, they acquire clear information that allows the baby brain to make new neural connections.
A child can learn to make classifications about the things in their environment, which is crucial to cognitive part of baby brain development.
For practical life skills, Dr. Maria Montessori emphasized the importance of using materials that are familiar, real, and functional because the tasks must resemble everyday activities.
- While there are many ways to engage with play silk, it’s one material that invites practical life skills naturally. You can show them how to set up a table on it, fold it after use, or and maybe even wash it clean. There are a lot of opportunities to not only practice your child’s fine motor skills but also gross motor skills as they move around the house to conduct their activities.
- Kitchen play introduces basic like skills such as grocery shopping, preparing meals, cleaning up the dishes, etc.
- Pretend play is not only fun, but because our kids based it on real-life person or situation it is the best match for the modeling characteristic of Montessori method. It also a mindfulness activities for kids that teaches compassion and inclusion because of the different characters they pretend to be.
For academics, homeschooling parents can integrate learning language and mathematics with the same Montessori materials they use in practical life skill and sensory activities.
- With the scoop and dump sensory bin tools, you can introduce counting by specifying that you need five scoops of grains for each wooden bowl.
- To promote language development, you can introduce new vocabulary as they use a variety of sensory bin fillers like beans, seeds, nuts, or cereals.
- Kitchen play introduces a lot of counting skills from the grocery list, cooking ingredients to cutting of fruits and veggies.
- Play silks can teach problem-solving skills by asking them to untie or unwrap it from an object, building a fort or simply by playing throw and catch.
Key takeaway: Montessori materials can be classified according to areas of learning: sensory activities, practical life skills, and academics .
There are a lot more Montessori materials you can find in your home to help you with Montessori homeschooling.
But we must always remember that learning for children should always be fun and enjoyable. Knowledge retains more if they are happy while learning new things.
Identify what they are most interested in and start your Montessori homeschooling from there.