Magic Montessori Words and Ideas

We all know that preschool teachers have a little bit of magic in their back pockets. How can they possibly get 25 kids under 5 to sit still and listen? I struggle with just two kids! This post is specifically for parents whose children are enrolled at Montessori schools and want to bring some of the teacher magic home.

I have learned some key phrases and ideas from my Montessori teacher friends that have made a world of difference in my home.

  • Restore your work (or anything): When I used to nag my kids to clean up their toys it took two or three repetitions typically followed by a threat or bribe which was clearly not effective! Then I found out that at school the kids were being told to restore their work/toys to put the room back the way it was. This was a game-changer. Now all I have to say is “restore your blocks” and they know that they can’t move on until it is done. Magic.
  • ___________ is Closed: Obviously this is a favorite since it is in the title of this blog! Anything can become closed, such as physical things and words. I can tell my 3 year old “Don’t touch Mommy’s phone” one hundred times and he will likely touch it. Just. One. More. Time. BUT if I say “Mommy’s phone is closed” some invisible Montessori force-field protects it from tiny hands. My thought is that is more concrete than “don’t” and therefore easier for little ones to grasp. You can’t touch it because it is closed, just like we can’t go to the playground because it is closed.
  • Peace: This is one we are constantly working on. Peace with yourself and peace with others is important for a pleasant home life. See my previous post for more details. 
  • Directed Choice: This is a Montessori idea that gives the child some control and power while staying in your parenting boundaries. It is the idea that kids can choose between two equally acceptable options. Ex. You can either play blocks or puzzles. or You can have a banana or an apple. I find this works exceedingly well with my youngest. He can be getting uppity about wanting pancakes for breakfast and I can pull out “You can have cereal or a bagel” and his mind is so focused on making the choice that the potential tantrum is diffused.
  • Prepared Environment: This is a Montessori idea that places in your home (or classroom) can be set-up in such a way that the child has maximum independence. We have done a good job with this in our kitchen and kids’ bathroom. I would like to work on this with our books and art supplies because right now they have a home but not a proper prepared environment in my opinion. I’ll keep you posted on any solutions we find or come up with.

My implementing the above, with little effort, you too can bring some Montessori magic into your home.

6 thoughts on “Magic Montessori Words and Ideas

  1. Great job, Allison! Love it! Thanks for the reminders of the “magic” words. Even though I taught preschool and knew the magic, I sometimes forget with Austin. Or maybe I just get lazy and just want him to do what I say without ME putting more effort into how I say it.

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