Montessori At Home with a 12-Month-Old Child – Where to Start?
With a deep breath and a positive attitude. It’s way easier than you think. I would like to share with you my own experience and what I believe is crucial for a child at this age.
First of all, allow the child to move freely. Set up your space with as minimum restrictions on the place as possible. Make it safe and accessible for your little person.
Set up a couple of baskets in different parts of your home with objects for the child to discover, touch, smell, and taste. Baskets should be easy to access and reach. All items should be natural for a baby to grasp. I would like to suggest a couple of examples:
- Everyday items (hairbrush, mirror, etc)
- Wooden items
- Replica animals
- Play fruit and vegetables
- Items defined by color
- Balls with various textures
- Musical instruments
Visit this post to get ideas for preparing learning activities for your child.
Living Montessori Now has a great post that will inspire you to create your treasure baskets for your child.
It is considered best to avoid electronic, and plastic toys. Instead, you can replace them with toys made out of natural materials. Twelve months is a perfect time to introduce a walker. Here are some toys that you may find in many homes where people implement the Montessori method.
Etsy has a gorgeous selection of handmade materials. I love buying toys from there for my baby because I know they are made with natural materials, are 100% safe for the baby to take in her mouth, and have no toxic paints.
There are many advocates of baby sensory play and art out there. I greatly support it. However, I prefer to stay away from food coloring, unless it’s 100% natural. When necessary, I make my own with natural ingredients, like beetroot juice and turmeric.
Babies benefit greatly from spending time outside in nature. National parks, botanical gardens, beaches, bush, and forests are the perfect playground and learning environment for them. When possible allow them to walk bare feet, play in the dirt, dig in the mud, crawl, climb, and feel the sand through their fingers and with their little toes. I admire this quote from Maria Montessori:
“Let the children free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning.” Dr. Maria Montessori
Talk with your child a lot. Try to listen to what they have to say. They have multiple languages to express themselves using words, gestures, and facial expressions. It’s important to be tuned to them all. At this age, children love books and pictures with large, realistic photos and illustrations. Oh and please, avoid screen time until the age of 2.
You may like to check out my post 5 Montessori Inspired Ways to Support Early Literacy at Home.
When eating – allow them to use their fingers. It is going to be messy but so good for their fine motor, hand-eye coordination and great for learning about different textures and temperatures.
At this age, you can start teaching them simple, practical life lessons and help them to take care of themselves. For example:
– Introduce a small cup for drinking. Small shot glasses are perfect for their little hands to grasp. Start with a minimal amount of water and gradually add more.
– Offer to wipe their table with a small cloth after a meal. Demonstrate first. Please, keep in mind that these are all life experiences that will take some time to perfect. Allow your child time and save yourself from getting frustrated if things don’t work out right away.
– Many families set up a first table and chair for the child to sit independently when having meals or for play. I found it to be too early for our daughter. We waited until she was 1.5 to introduce her to the toddler table and chair when having meals.
– A kitchen is a perfect place for discoveries. Before cutting their fruit or vegetable offer the child to touch, feel, and smell it. It’s a pleasant experience that will activate a child’s senses and an excellent learning opportunity. It is always exciting for the child to be involved in simple home tasks.
For example, here is my sweet pie helping to make scented water with cloves, rosemary and lemons, and later helped me to fill in the bowl with lemons.
Every child is different and develops at their own pace. Observing and being attentive to their preferences and interests can make a perfect foundation for building upon and introducing new experiences that are challenging, yet within their reach.
I hope you found this post helpful.
How to Prepare a Montessori Toddler Environment at Home via Living Montessori Now is a fabulous resource.