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Family dynamics

23rd Feb 2024

The eight principles of Montessori parenting according to Dr. Maria Montessori

Anna Martin

Montessori parenting

There seem to be so many parenting styles that it can become overwhelming.

From jellyfish parenting to unattached and permissive styles, the list goes on and on and only gets more confusing.

One type that seems to be doing the rounds on social media at the moment is Montessori parenting, with celebs and influencers declaring that this is the way they want to raise their children.

Montessori parenting originates in Dr. Maria Montessori’s teachings from the 1900s. It is based on the belief that the environment should encourage exploration.

She believed that all children have a unique gift that should be nurtured and developed, not controlled by adults.

So how do you become a Montessori parent? Well, there are a few basic principles that you may wish to follow.

montessori parenting
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1. Freedom With Limits

The main focus of Montessori is freedom; freedom to explore and gain independence.

In order for kids to want to explore the world, they must feel free and respected, but you must also provide safe opportunities. 

Children are like sponges so parents must act as role models to help them learn to respect their surroundings, belongings, and how to control their impulses.

2. Prepared Environment

In other words, you should aim to have a safe, secure space where your child can explore and play, guided by their curiosity.

You can prepare an environment by having an organised space with options to play and explore. 

For example, a playroom that has open shelves with toys and books so your child can pick and choose what they want.

montessori parenting
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3. Observation

The Montessori method was created by observing children at play.

By being an observant parent you can note their special interests and what skills they have, which will allow you to nurture and develop them further.

4. Realistic World

Though children are known for living in a fantasy world, Montessori recommends encouraging this later in life, in favour of education based on reality.

You can do this by modelling activities in everyday life – cooking, cleaning, reading about the natural world, and playing outside.

5. Peace Education

Montessori education focuses on the real world, stress management, and how to go about peaceful conflict resolution. 

montessori parenting
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6. Less is More

Let’s take toys for example; instead of providing your child with an overwhelming variety – which makes it more difficult to choose – keep them to a minimum and rotate a selection of them.

Too many choices can reduce the value of each item in the eyes of a child. When children do not respect their toys, they will break them or say that they are bored and demand even more.

7. No Punishments or Rewards

Dr. Montessori found that neither punishment nor reward is an effective means of disciplining children. 

What she did find effective was “inner discipline,” which is brought about by a child’s sense of responsibility.

Of course, parents must also point out the natural consequences of undesirable behaviour. 

It is also important to remember that you don’t need to praise your child every time they do something. Children naturally want to learn, they do not need rewards to encourage learning.  

montessori parenting
Credit: Getty

8. Refine the Natural Senses

Montessori principles emphasise the necessity of natural items to help develop the senses. 

Wood, fabric, and other natural materials are preferred over plastic, which has no flavour or texture.