Teachers are an integral part of our children's lives, and there are lots of ways we can show them our appreciation not only on Teacher Appreciation Day but everyday of the year as well. In Montessori education, teachers act as guides, supporting and nurturing the child's natural development in order to help our children develop into well-rounded individuals who are confident, curious, and eager to learn. They create a prepared environment that encourages exploration and discovery, and they provide opportunities for hands-on learning and socialization.
Supporting Teachers Today and Everyday
Parents can support their child's education by working collaboratively with their child's teacher and by creating a prepared environment in their own home. Montessori education is centered around the child, and it emphasizes the importance of following the child's natural development. This post will focus on providing tips and advice for parents of babies and toddlers on how they can prepare their environment. Using these tips can help supplement and support the learning that happens in both traditional and Montessori environments.
What better way is there to support our hard-working teachers on Teacher Appreciation Day?
Create a Prepared Environment
The first step is to create a prepared environment that is safe and supportive of your child's development, a so-called “yes-space”. This means providing age-appropriate materials and furniture that allow your child to explore and learn safely and independently. For example, you can provide a low shelf with open baskets containing toys, books, and other interesting items for your child to discover. Check out our low shelf for inspiration! When they start walking, a low table and chair for them to practice using for snacks or even to play or do crafts is another loving touch. Doing so allows them to have autonomy in their choices and supports their blossoming independence.
Montessori education places great importance on fostering independence in children from a young age. Parents can support this by allowing their child time to do things for themselves as much as possible. This can include dressing themselves, feeding themselves, and even helping with household chores as they get older. Of course, this requires patience and time, but it is worth it in the long run when they can feel empowered and ultimately helpful in your daily family routine. Using an activity like the Dressing Frames will help isolate the skill and encourage repetition. While we always recommend encouraging independence first it should never be at the cost of connection or to the point of frustration. If your little one is not feeling it one day it’s always ok to go back to collaboration and support. They’re still little and just like us aren't always up for the challenge.
Follow The Child (and their interests)
Another key principle in creating a supportive home is following your child's interests. Parents can support this by observing their child and providing opportunities for exploration and discovery based on their interests. For example, if your child is interested in music, you can provide books and instruments like the Music Set to support their joy and exploration of this new interest. If you notice your baby dumping everything out, offer lots of baskets with objects to transfer or if they’re into throwing offer a variety of balls to offer an outlet for this desire. Allowing your child to pursue their interests safely even if it’s not exactly what we expect will help them to fulfill the need quickly and soon the behaviors will pass. Doing so will alleviate power struggles and frustration in everyone’s day.
Babies and toddlers learn first through their senses. Montessori education emphasizes the importance of hands-on exploration and discovery. Parents can support this by providing open-ended materials that allow for experimentation and creativity. This can include things like rattles, blocks, art supplies, and sensory materials like sand, water, and playdough. These sensory experiences give the feedback your little one craves and supports their learning about the world around them. The Monti Kids Unit Blocks Setis a perfect set for exploration for babies and toddlers - first through touch and manipulation then through creativity and building.
Foster a Love for the Outdoors
The saying goes, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices.” The benefits of time spent outside in nature are numerous. It not only supports motor development but it can also promote mood and sleep quality. Parents can support this by spending time outside with their child, taking walks in nature, and providing opportunities for gardening and exploring and caring for the natural world. Head outside with the Push Toy for challenges on new terrain and in new places. Or for your older toddler take the Scavenger Hunt Cards outside and try and find as many as you can on a given day!
It's always important to remember that every child is unique and develops at their own pace. In Montessori education, the focus is on the process rather than the end result. Children are encouraged to learn through exploration and discovery, and they are supported in their natural development. This approach can help children develop a love of learning that will stay with them throughout their lives.
By creating a prepared environment, fostering independence, following the child's interests, encouraging exploration, and fostering a love of nature, parents can help their child develop into a confident, curious, and well-rounded individual.
And on this Teacher Appreciation Day, let's all take a moment to appreciate the amazing teachers who work tirelessly to support our children's education and development.
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