Keys to enter the Montessori world from home

Under Montessori's own “help me do it myself” philosophy, Cristina Tébar, the creator of Montessori en Casa, tells us how to apply these techniques in the education of our children.

Cristina Tébar is the creator of Montessori en Casa, teaching courses on how to integrate Montessori in raising your children.

She has a degree in Environmental Sciences, she was born and raised in Madrid. He moved to Almería where he enjoys “a somewhat simpler and more natural life”.

Maternity brought her closer to this pedagogy and now she shares her experience on her website where she recounts examples of activities, crafts, how to educate without punishing and many other things. The Ser Padres page had the opportunity to interview her.

• For someone who does not know the Montessori Method, what does it consist of? What favors?

To explain it in a summary way, the Montessori method consists of providing the child with an environment in which he can learn by himself through real and generally manipulative experiences, instead of through theoretical lessons or textbooks.

On the other hand, great importance is given to the autonomy of the child, from a very young age they are given tools to function in the real world that will serve them throughout their lives.

• The founder María Montessori spoke of sensitive periods, could you identify these moments for us?

The sensitive periods vary depending on the source we consult, and then those periods can also vary greatly from one child to another, but to name a few.

The sensitive period for language would cover from birth to 6 years (that is why it is so important to introduce other languages before 6 years), the sensitive period for the order would be between 2 and 4 years, that of mathematics between 4 and 6 years old... but as I said, this is for guidance only because each child develops at a different pace, and that is where one of Maria Montessori's maxims comes into play: "follow the child".

In this pedagogy it is vital to observe and get to know each child in order to identify their interests and sensitive periods and thus be able to offer them at all times the materials, activities or experiences that best suit that moment of their development and their personal interests.

• Could you describe for us what the ideal Montessori environment is?

An ideal Montessori environment is one in which the child can function on their own and work at their own pace in activities of their choosing, for as long as they choose and without interruptions.

To achieve this, the first thing that must be taken into account is that children, due to their height, encounter many obstacles and we must try to eliminate them.

We must provide them with access to water to drink or wash, putting their books, toys or materials at their height...

montessori cooking activities

• How can it be applied at home?

I always use the visual example of a pyramid, in which the base would be the principles or the Montessori philosophy, since without them it is useless to spend money on materials or to prepare activities inspired by Montessori.

The first thing we have to do is soak up the philosophy and basic principles of the Montessori method and apply them in our day to day, and even if we only do that, we will already be offering our children an important part of this pedagogy.

The second floor of the pyramid would be the prepared environment, which would consist of what I mentioned in the previous question, creating an environment at home in which the child can function independently, with very little (or no) help on our part. .

And if we want to go a little further, on the top floor would be the most academic part of the Montessori method, which would include the materials and specific activities that are contemplated in each of the areas (Practical Life, Sensory, Language, Mathematics, Geography…).

Create an environment at home in which the child can function independently, with very little (or no) help from us

What are the advantages of using the method in the education of children?

Autonomy, self-confidence, the ability to solve problems... And of course the love of learning, which is something innate but unfortunately with a traditional educational system, is lost over the years.

How are Montessori values transmitted to children?

With our way of acting and treating them day by day. If we respect their concentration and their work, they learn to respect ours and that of their peers.

If we use consequences instead of rewards and punishments, they learn to make their decisions based on what is right and what is wrong instead of doing it to avoid punishment or to receive a reward...

Could you give us the keys to knowing how to educate without rewards or punishments?

The key is to use consequences instead of rewards and punishments. I have to admit that in practice it is not always easy…

Many times we are tempted to resort to rewards and punishments because the truth is that they work and also work in the short term, and sometimes when fatigue takes its toll (because fathers and mothers are human after all), which What we want are immediate results, and in those moments it is very easy to be tempted to use rewards or punishments.

But if we can avoid them, in the long run we'll be glad we did.

Another difficulty is that sometimes the difference between a reward/punishment and a consequence can be very subtle. The difference is subtle but powerful, and although it seems difficult to play with words in moments of tension, it is all a matter of practice.

How does an activity become Montessori?

There is no magic formula to convert any activity into Montessori, but we can follow some guidelines so that an activity offers some of the benefits of the Montessori method.

For example, an important point is that the activity has what we call "error control", that is, it allows the child to realize if he has done it correctly or not without us having to correct him.

It is also important that the activity favors the child's concentration and independence. And of course it must be about manipulative activities, in which the child works with his hands and learns through the senses.

What books would you recommend to parents interested in the Method?

The truth is that despite having very good books in English, many of them are not translated into Spanish.

For the stage from 0 to 3 years I would definitely recommend "Montessori from the start" by Paula Polk Lillarad and Lynn Lillard Jensen.

In Spanish, I would recommend "How to get the best out of your children" by Tim Seldin, which is a good option for those who are starting from scratch and want to quickly grasp some of the main ideas of the method in order to start applying them in a practical way.

And of course I would recommend reading one of Dr. Montessori's own books, which, although they may be somewhat heavier to read, after all, is where we will find the most faithful information on the method.

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