What is it all about?
It's just a series of prompts, not unlike a 'photo a day challenge' that encourages people with pre-school aged children at home to try a Montessori inspired activity each day in May. It's hard to get some of these things done on the allotted days, that's life, but don't let that discourage you from doing them. Feel free to mix it up. If you're feeling arty or inspired to wash the table on a different day than the prompt, just do it and share anyway. It is not set in stone. The main point is to introduce different activities that help your child develop skills and independence.
How do you take part?
All you need to do is snap a picture of your little one taking part in the daily Montessori task and share it with the hashtag #pcmontessoriaday on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Instagram works best but whatever you want to do is cool. You will (hopefully) find lots of others playing along so make sure you pop around and get some ideas or start some conversations.
When it comes to most of these activities it's all about the process. When you're scrubbing the table make sure your toddler is involved from the start. They can pour some water into a bucket, add the soap, scrub the table, empty the bucket, dry it, put it away and hang up the cloth they used. This whole process may only take a few minutes and that's cool. Just let them lead the way. Hit up Youtube for a heap of Montessori Practical Life videos if you're unsure of how to approach the tasks.
A lot of things can be taught without using too many verbal directions a good way is to show them how by doing the task yourself first. For children who can talk, ask them questions about what they are doing and give them simple answers when they ask about their task. Talk about how they are looking after their environment (meaning their home and immediate space) and explain this is why we have to water plants, feed animals, sweep floors, pack away etc.
What exactly is Montessori
Montessori is just a type of education developed by a Dr called Maria Montessori. It is one of those things that a lot of people have strange ideas about; people tend to think it's like Steiner and that it's very arty and spiritual but it's actually not. It is practical, Montessori was a scientist and she was a tough cookie. She didn't endorse 'busy work' and she believed that a child's work was their play. People who have had first hand experiences with Montessori practice tend to see her as a pretty hard taskmaster and it is strange that in the wider community there is an image of this kind of education being 'a bit soft'.
In Australian Montessori schools the children follow the state curriculum and take part in all the standardised testing, it is not like 'un-schooling' and anyone who has been in a 3-6 classroom knows that this is not the case. You will find four-year-olds who can't read yet, using wooden letters to write stories, five-year-olds using beads to do addition and subtraction and three-year-olds grating cheese, making snacks and washing up after themselves. In any given 6-9 classroom eight-year-olds do complicated long division and can be found mapping out all the rivers in Africa. It's really academic and the children tend to push themselves a lot further becausse it's up to them to set their own educational goals. Just look at the guys who created Google, two Montessori kids with a vision and no reason to believe that they couldn't achieve it. And yeah, Beyonce went to Montessori school. Luckily for us the entire educational journey starts with really simple to do, hands on 'Practical Life' activities that encourage curiosity and independence and can easily be done at home - like each of the activities listed above.