How can you start Montessori on a Budget?
Implementing a Montessori educational program at home is a great way to encourage your child to learn about the world around them through exploration.
But if you’re interested in using Montessori at home, you may be discouraged at the price tag on some curriculums.
Luckily, it’s simple to teach your child at home without overspending, if you have the right knowledge and tools at your disposal.
Try these simple tips and tricks for implementing Montessori on a budget.
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What is Montessori?
Before we can start discussing ways to implement Montessori education while on a budget, it’s a good idea to discuss what the program entails.
Montessori education was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, and is designed to foster self-motivated learning for children.
The Montessori method is a student-led and self-paced program that is designed to create natural opportunities for learning.
This teaching method allows you to create a curriculum that revolves around your student’s unique interests and abilities, giving them a chance to work on all aspects of their development (social, emotional, physical, and academic) as they learn.
The curriculum revolves around four basic principles:
1) Respect for the child
The concept of child directed work is the most important aspect of the Montessori method.
That means that your child will have the freedom to choose learning activities that pique their interest.
And they’ll have the freedom to explore that activity for as long as they want.
This educational method also places a large focus on young children in preschool through elementary school. That’s because this age range is when children are able to absorb a significant amount of information from their environment.
And while this method can be used for a larger age range, the ideal time to begin a Montessori education is during the toddler years, between 16 and 32 months.
2) Sensitive periods for learning
The Montessori method recognizes that a child’s growth takes place over four stages of development.
This educational method uses those stages as a basis for the concepts taught to children in different age groups, allowing students to build upon their knowledge as they grow and explore.
3) A prepared environment
Another key concept of the Montessori method is careful organization.
A well-prepared environment allows your child to explore and learn from the world around them without distraction.
It also means that no space is restricted or off-limits from your child, giving them the chance to learn in an open and safe area.
4) Independence and discovery
With the help of an organized environment, your child can use their own interests to learn and grow.
This child-directed learning method allows your child to invest as much time and energy as they need to make new discoveries and learn new concepts without the confinements of a strict curriculum.
These basic principles are a great way to shape the curriculum for your child’s education at home.
And with the help of these concepts, you can easily implement the Montessori method in your at-home learning – even if you’re on a budget.
Montessori at Home
After you understand the basic concepts behind the Montessori method, you can begin to think about simple ways to implement the program at home.
Try these simple, budget-friendly ideas to help your child learn and explore without breaking the bank.
1) Keep your home organized and accessible
One of the key aspects of a Montessori classroom is organization.
And that means you can make your home more Montessori-friendly simply by keeping it neat and organized.
An organized environment helps your child safely explore the world around them without getting distracted by mess and clutter.
These simple tips will help you create a Montessori-friendly environment for your child to explore:
Make sure everything has a place.
A great way to ensure your home stays organized from day to day is to assign each item in your house with a home.
When you or your child is finished using an item, simply return it to its designated place to keep the space neat and organized.
With this easy method, your child will quickly learn where everything goes, helping them gain more responsibility from an early age.
Store your child’s things within easy reach.
To help your child become more independent, make sure to store their belongings in a place that they can easily reach.
Store their clothing in low drawers or on a lower rod in their closet so they can quickly dress themselves without assistance, for example.
Keep step stools handy.
For areas in your home that aren’t easily accessible to your child, like the bathroom sink or kitchen counters, make sure you have a step stool nearby.
Placing a stool in the kitchen and bathroom will make washing their hands on their own much easier.
And a step stool in the kitchen will allow you to use meal prep as a learning opportunity, too.
Make toy storage kid-friendly.
To ensure your kids can easily access and put away their toys when they’re finished playing, make sure your storage solutions are kid-friendly.
Keep the baskets sorted by type to make it easy to find what they need. And double check to be sure the baskets and bins aren’t too heavy for your child to lift on their own.
This is my favorite toy storage. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s well worth it.
Store snacks and drinks within easy reach.
Another great way to give your kids a chance to become more independent and make healthy choices is to place healthy snacks and drinks at your child’s eye level.
Place items on a low shelf in your refrigerator and pantry so your kids can grab a snack on their own.
2) Adjust your parenting method
Implementing a Montessori based learning system may mean you’ll need to make some simple changes to your parenting methods.
Avoid the traditional hustle and bustle of modern parenting and make some adjustments to give your child more freedom to learn.
A few simple changes to your parenting style can allow your child to explore and learn more freely.
Slow down your schedule.
While keeping kids busy seems to be commonplace today, when implementing the Montessori method, a slow schedule is actually more beneficial.
Giving your kids time to explore the world around them without time limits or schedules is the core of this educational method.
Have respect for your child.
Speaking and listening to your child as if they are an adult is another simple way to encourage learning and growth.
Showing your child respect can ultimately lead to improved self-confidence.
Avoid rewards and punishments.
Moving away from motivators like rewards and punishments gives your child a chance to problem solve without boundaries.
Eventually, this simple method will help your child provide themselves with their own motivation to accomplish a goal.
3) Keep things interesting and engaging
Since the Montessori method focuses on encouraging your child to explore the world around them, it’s a good idea to ensure your home is as interesting and engaging as possible.
Engage your child by ensuring your home has a variety of educational opportunities that pique their curiosity and interests to encourage ongoing learning at home.
Rotate toys and books regularly.
To keep your child from getting bored with the toys and books available to them, try sectioning your kid’s toy and book collection into two or three groupings.
Every few weeks, rotate the toys to give your child a fresh set of things to play with and read.
Focus on their interests.
One simple way to encourage your child to explore is to provide them with toys and books that are interesting to your child.
Keep your eyes and ears open to see what things your child is drawn to, then add activities and toys that coincide with those interests.
Your child will be more likely to engage and explore the things around them if they have options that appeal to their current interests.
Decorate with color and texture.
Providing your child with interesting things to see and touch is another easy way to encourage exploration.
From kid-friendly artwork to unique textured textiles, there are a variety of simple décor options you can incorporate into your home to help your child learn.
4) Teach them life skills
There’s no reason your child’s Montessori education should only focus on core subjects like reading and math.
Teaching your child life skills is another great way to encourage learning through exploration.
Even young children can take on household chores, which means you can easily include educational opportunities within your everyday housework.
Find age-appropriate chores.
Providing your child with age-appropriate chores is a great way to encourage them to become more involved in the responsibilities of the family.
Start by teaching your child how to do the chore properly, then allow your child to practice the skill each day on their own.
Keep their room clean.
We know that an organized environment is a cornerstone of Montessori, so encouraging your child to keep their room neat and clean is another simple way to implement the program on a regular basis.
Start with small tasks, like putting their toys away after playing, and build up to bigger chores, like dusting and vacuuming, as your child grows.
Explore in the kitchen.
Learning to cook is another great way for your child to learn through exploration.
In addition to learning a life skill, you’ll also help your child explore new foods as they prep and cook.
Plant a garden.
Gardening is another simple life skill that’s perfect for implementing this educational method at home.
From exploring the world outdoors to learning about the food we eat, there are a variety of wonderful ways to learn as you garden.
Budget-Friendly Montessori Activities
Now that you know a few simple ways to encourage Montessori-styled learning at home, you’re probably ready to get started.
But if you’re on a budget, a full Montessori curriculum may be out of the question. When you’re ready for your child to start learning, try these simple Montessori activities you can do at home.
1) Sorting and organizing
Help your child practice their fine motor skills and spatial awareness while having fun with sorting and organizing activities.
Your child can sort by color, match items from small to big, or sort similar things into groups.
And since you can use items from around your house for this easy activity, there’s no need to purchase special supplies.
Try setting out these items for your child to sort and organize:
- Small toys
2) Water play
Playing with water is another fun way for your child to explore the world around them.
But since this activity often comes with spills and mess, it’s a good idea to prepare the area before they play by laying towels around the play area.
Try these water activities with your child:
- Scrubbing with sponges, scrub brushes, and toothbrushes
- Washing toys
- Playing with bubbles
- Washing plastic dishes
- Window washing
- Watering plants
3) Sensory bins
A popular way to encourage your child to explore is with a sensory bin.
And since you can create a bin using items from around your house, you can provide your child with a free or cheap educational activity at home.
All you need is a large bin or pan and a few different sensory-friendly items that encourage your child to use one or more of their senses (sight, touch, taste, sound, and smell).
Try these sensory bin ideas using items from around your house:
- Food items, like rice, beans, or pasta
- Items from nature, like leaves, grass, and flowers
- Small toys
- Soft items, like cotton balls, pom poms, and fabric scraps
- Craft supplies, like pipe cleaner, beads, and buttons
- Seasonal items, like pine cones in the fall or flowers in the spring
- Holiday items, like plastic Easter eggs or Christmas ornaments
4) Movement activities
Encourage your child to get active while learning at home with educational movement activities. Try one of these fun exercise activities to engage your child as they play:
- Jump rope
- Tossing balls
- Playing with balloons
- Create an obstacle course
- Tossing balls or toys into baskets
- Pretending to be animals (jump like a frog, run like a cheetah, etc.)
5) Arts and crafts
Encourage your child’s creativity with the help of some arts and crafts.
The beauty of these activities is that you can allow your child to create independently by simply setting out art supplies.
Creating a makerspace can give your child a chance to create their own works of art without direction or intervention. Use supplies and tools you have at home to save yourself time and money.
These craft supplies are perfect for creating a creative space for your child:
- Glue and glue sticks
- Child-friendly scissors
- Paints and paint brushes
- Crayons, chalk, colored pencils, and markers
- Construction paper
- Clay and playdough
- Pens and pencils
- Toilet paper and paper towel rolls
- Buttons, beads, and string
- Pipe cleaner
- Cotton balls and pom poms
6) Lacing and threading
For young children, practicing their fine motor skills is essential.
With the help of threading and lacing activities, your child can develop those skills while having fun.
And since you don’t need to purchase special tools or supplies for these activities, lacing and threading are perfect for Montessori on a budget.
Try these easy activities to help your child practice their threading and lacing skills:
- Stringing beads on a piece of string or pipe cleaner
- Threading string through shoelace holes
- Making a macaroni necklace
- Sewing buttons on fabric
- Threading spaghetti noodles through holes in a colander
- Making a cereal bracelet
7) Language activities
Practicing reading and pre-reading skills is another great way to encourage your child to learn as they play.
And since there are a variety of simple ways to help your child improve their language skills, there’s no reason you need an expensive curriculum for Montessori at home.
Try these free (or cheap) language activities to help your child improve their reading skills:
- Reading age-appropriate books
- Storytelling and/or writing
- Labeling items throughout the house
- Reading labels and packaging around the house or store
- Reading signs while driving
- I Spy something that starts with the letter…
8) Science activities
Provide your child with hands-on learning activities to help them implement scientific ideas and principles to make learning about science a little more fun.
These simple at-home science activities are a cheap and easy way to help your kid learn as they play:
- Will it sink or float? Set out a few different objects and ask your child if they think it will sink or float. Drop each one in water and see if their predictions were right.
- Is it living or nonliving? Set out a few different items and ask your child if they think the item is living or nonliving.
- Watch birds and other animals in the backyard
- Go on a nature walk around your neighborhood and collect different items from nature as you walk
9) Explore in the kitchen
The kitchen is a wonderful place for your child to learn and explore.
And with so many great educational opportunities, you won’t need to seek out special equipment or tools to do these easy activities:
- Cutting and slicing fruits and vegetables with a kid-safe knife
- Stacking cups and bowls
- Making sounds with different tools and utensils
- Transferring small items, like rice or beans, from one bowl to another
- Assist in preparing food according to their skills and abilities
- Kneading and squishing dough
- Using cookie cutters to cut and shape dough
Montessori Play Activities
Although finding items from around the house to encourage learning is a budget friendly way to implement Montessori at home, there will come a time when you need to purchase a few items for your child.
These cheap Montessori toys are a great option for playing and learning at the same time.
Puzzles are a great option for encouraging independent play.
And having a variety of different puzzles to choose from ensures your kids won’t get bored doing the same puzzles over and over again.
With the help of wood blocks, your child can use their imagination to build structures, create patterns, and sort by size or color.
With so many different uses, a set of high quality wood blocks is a great investment for your child’s Montessori education.
Wooden peg people are another affordable Montessori toy.
You can buy the unfinished wooden peg dolls and then paint them.
If you’re worried about using toxic paints, this is an excellent article on which paints are non-toxic including milk paint.
Playdough and clay are more open-ended toys that are perfect for encouraging your child to think creatively.
And while purchasing playdough and clay is a budget-friendly option for your Montessori curriculum, having a set of playdough tools your child can use as they play is another wonderful addition to your set of educational toys.
A set with cookie cutters, stamps, rolling pins, cutting tools, and utensils can provide your child with hours of educational fun.
Games and toys that give your child a chance to practice patterns and matching are always a great choice.
Matching games force your child to think critically to find and recreate patterns, giving them a chance to practice special reasoning and improve their pre-math skills.
And when the activity comes in the form of a game, it’s also fun for them to do over and over again.
Exploring the world of sound is a fun activity that’s perfect for Montessori learning.
With a set of wooden musical instruments, your child can play different sounds and learn about different instruments.
Child friendly musical instruments, like tambourines, cymbals, maracas, bells, and xylophones, are all perfect for explorative learning.
Practicing patterns is one of the best ways for young children to improve their pre-math skills.
With a set of pattern blocks, your child can recreate patterns on the included cards.
Or they can create their own patterns using the shaped blocks. Either way, this simple block set is a great addition to your set of educational toys.
Babies and toddlers are in the best age group to start Montessori learning.
And with the help of a busy board, they can engage with different textures and activities in a fun and safe way.
Featuring buttons, laces, snaps, zippers, and buckles, a busy board gives young children a chance to practice different real-world elements while exploring and having fun.
Learning to balance, stack, and sort is another educational activity that has a host of benefits for your child.
That’s why it’s a good idea to invest in balancing toys to add to your Montessori curriculum.
Toys featuring different shapes and colors can provide your child with a variety of opportunities to learn, from stacking according to size to sorting by color.
String and lacing activities are a great way for your toddler and preschooler to practice their fine motor skills.
Lacing toys allows your child to practice threading and lacing with the help of sturdy toys and string, allowing your child to lace over and over again without damage.
Make sure you have everything your child needs to get creative by having a selection of craft supplies on hand.
A craft supply kit is a simple way to grab everything your child will need for a variety of projects.
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