Friday, June 3, 2011

Montessori at home - how does this work??

Sorry for the week of silence. It was a busy weekend, and a busy week making up for it. Ren Faire, party, shopping, unpacking, and the garden going crazy. Blogging, not so much.

I <3 Ren Faires.

I was researching this morning how to make my baby's environment more discovery-friendly. I knew Montessori had programs for infants. What I found was mostly what I already knew - play mat, lots of floor time, simple toys made out of real things (not plastic). I had already tried to incorporate as much of this as I could into our life, but it's always been difficult. My baby hated tummy time for months. Now she doesn't mind it so much because she's getting a bit mobile, but she gets frustrated at being at the level of our feet. She would much rather sit in her high chair while I bake bread, playing with a toy and munching on pieces of dough. She wants to be up on my level and involved in my activities. And it's not like I can let her crawl around on the table while I sweep the floor. says not to use swings or baby seats, because it hinders development and encourages passive observation of the world. I can't function without one, unless I want to listen to my baby scream from the floor. Clearly, the thing to do is to get down on the floor and play with her (and I do), but I don't have all day to do that! I have too much work to do to confine it all to naptime. Have any other moms found how to make this work - give maximum freedom and encourage mobility while still getting your work done and keeping the house in order? Or is my baby the only baby in the world who feels abandoned when I leave her to play on a mat on the floor while I get housework done?

Right after reading the article about crawling time for babies, I took her outside to garden. The carrots finally appeared, and I needed to weed them. I chuckled to myself as I carried the Bumbo outside to put her in. Maybe she could learn more if I let her crawl around and pick all my seedlings. But until she's old enough to understand instructions not to pick the plants, I'm not going to let her. Take that, idealistic educational theorists. At least I brought her outside.

and she taste-tested the grass and dirt for me

Current plant count (as of the plants I bothered to count last night and today)
266 corn stalks
21 watermelons
15 squashes
5 canteloupes
8 cucumbers
12 tomatoes
2 raspberry bushes
2 blackberry bushes
6 strawberries
2 blueberries
and I haven't counted the carrots, radishes, turnups and peas.

and one raspberry!!

strawberry flower. so excited.


  1. First rule of Mommy-ing: don't stress.
    I went through the same thing, devouring the books for infant Montessori programs, stressing about all the little things I was doing wrong. Then I realized that those books were written for families that only intended to have one child grow up to the ubermensch.
    Practically, life doesn't work that way, unless you can afford to hire someone to do everything for you that doesn't involve staring at an infant all day.
    Babies and mamas both need some time where they are not actively interacting with each other. I found that the actual Montessori stuff doesn't really work til baby is two. Til then, exploring her environment, being around you when you work, talking to her, reading to her, all that stuff you're probably already doing? Yeah, that's what she really needs right now.
    Soon, she'll be read for some more active, hands-on stuff. Til then, relax. You're doing just fine.

  2. Kara,
    Thanks! Yes, I'm sure a plan for only one child would help, as well as a domestic staff. I was just so surprised to read that high chairs and swings inhibit development! It seems to me that by watching me make dinner and playing with some of the ingredients, she'd be learning something at least as important as the motor skills she gets to work on *anyway.* And as tempting as it is sometimes to say, "You're being a pill, go sit in your swing and let me get something done," the days of her being lulled to sleep by her swing in seconds flat are several months gone. For those times when she is happy to sit in her swing and play with a toy while I sweep, I say THANK GOD. She's also sometimes happy to play in her playpen, which is another Montessori no-no, but which I use because it's softer than even a mat on the floor and she's more comfortable in it.

    Interestingly enough, the Montessori site said nothing about reading to her. Weird. She's definitely old enough for nursery rhymes, and she even pays attention as long as the pictures are pretty and the pages keep turning fast enough.