The last days of the year are always excellent to reflect on good resolutions for the future. 2020 taught us to be more resilient than we could ever imagine and offered us a precious opportunity to spend more time with our family and to reinforce a sense of gratitude for the people we love.
Below I would like to share my thoughts on what could be 10 Montessori resolutions for 2021:
- Tidy up - The Montessori method supports the children to navigate through their explorations in an orderly environment. This external order supports the children to create an internal order, which encourages the development of new concepts and ideas. To create a space at home that can help the whole family, it is good practice to periodically declutter and keep the environment tidy. Learn more about this minimalist approach by reading "The Magical Power of Tidying" (https://konmari.com) and "Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life" (https://www.theminimalists.com).
- Organise and create routines - In the Montessori setting children acquire autonomy over time through the repetition of routines which allow them not only to feel safe within the environment but also to feel in control. Children do not have a concept of time like ours, and therefore the creation of routines supports them in gaining awareness and understanding of the succession of events within a day, a week, a month, and a year. Routines also help the children to learn good habits such as washing hands before a snack or tidying the table once finished. Read the article "Morning routines" written by Raffaella Rossi (https://montessoripercrescere.com/le-routine-della-mattina/)
- In contact with nature - Spending time in contact with nature should be as essential as drinking, eating and sleeping. Children who can immerse themselves in nature can explore and develop all their senses, and also learn how to respect nature. Allow children time to look at the sky, observe the leaves, talk about the seasons, admire the movements of the animals, jump in puddles, smell flowers, collect small treasures (stones, twigs, fallen leaves), following their rhythms. To learn more, read "Last Child in the Woods" by Richard Louv (http://richardlouv.com/books/).
- Natural resources - The materials in the Montessori settings are precious and each object can create a connection with the children to stimulate a variety of sensory exploration. In a world that wants to transform everything into plastic and reachable with a click, it becomes interesting to take a step back and support children to discover the wonder hidden in a leaf, the fantasy of colours, and encourage them to use their imagination to create instead of offering a finished product - by using wood, ceramics, fresh flowers, precious boxes, and many other natural resources.
- Observe and reflect - Montessori teachers always use a diary to write information throughout their day with the children. For example, exciting things that the children have said or done, activities with which they have concentrated or unconcentrated, areas to work on, observations about the classroom environment, personal reflections, and topics to be explored. For parents, it would be interesting to keep a small notebook always at hand on which to write keywords to reflect on later. Imagine it like a shopping list where instead of writing down the ingredients for dinner, you could take notes of observations about your children and your thoughts, ideas and feelings.
- Quality time - To create a connection with your children, time is the key ingredient, ensure at least 30 minutes every day to devote to free play. Let your children lead the game, making them decide the roles and rules. Switching off electronic devices to create space only for creativity and the power of imagination - adopting the fundamental principle of the Montessori method "Follow the child".
- Gratitude - Such a wonderful word whose power we often forget. Children learn by observing the surrounding world, and they learn by looking and listening to us. Living with more awareness and gratitude could support our children to understand kindness and appreciate precious but straightforward moments during the day such as a family lunch, a walk in the wood, a moment of cuddles before bedtime. By verbalising our thoughts of gratitude, we could encourage children to learn the power of a “thank you”.
- Eat healthily - Every day, we have the opportunity to promote healthy meals by offering our family healthy foods that promote a balanced diet. The moment of meals and their preparation can also become an excellent opportunity to explore nature, its colors, and its shapes, talking with children about the origin of the fruit, vegetables, cereals, bringing awareness to the countries where these are grown and the benefits they bring to our body. In Montessori schools, children have an area dedicated to snacks, accessible at any time, where they can independently wash, prepare, and eat the selected food and then tidy up and leave the space clean.
- Respect and Emotions - In the early years of their life, children learn the characteristics of social relationships by observing their family. This information creates the foundation for all of their future relationships. Supporting children to understand their emotions and gain awareness of the feelings of others will encourage self-esteem, empathy and mutual respect. In Montessori classes, children are continuously encouraged to respect themselves, others and the surrounding environment.
- Sharing - Children are an unlimited source of love, discovery, surprise, enthusiasm, joy and fun. Whether you are a parent or an educator you will know that despite this, children can often push our resources of patience to the limit. In these moments, it is essential to share these emotions with your partner, family, a friend, a consultant, finding comfort and working on the right strategies to help restore peace into the family.
“Only through freedom and environmental experience is it practically possible for human development to occur” – Maria Montessori.