You simply can't resist falling in love with this little family scene...and its just a typical moment in a Musically Montessori home!
When my dear friend, Amanda, sent me this photo I immediately had to write an article about the amazing happenings in her household. Her young children are having sweet experiences with The Arts at an important time in their lives...their early childhood.
So how do you actually do it?
1. PREPARE YOUR HOME ENVIRONMENT
Amanda's youngest ("E") was born in early May of this year and he has been experiencing a Montessori home since his first month of life. Her older child ("M") is now three and really enjoys "teaching" his little brother. Amanda and her family have been collaborating with me on my Montessori Baby-Ed activities that I have been developing recently. You can read more about how to bring The Arts to your baby by clicking on this link: Montessori Baby-Ed.
Amanda created a sweet little Montessori environment for her baby. Here you can see how engaged E is with the Montessori-style Dancer Mobile.You have really changed my life since our correspondence and sending me the first Montessori Baby-Ed basket- I have enrolled "M" into a music class and he is now going to a Montessori school in the fall. AND of course, now "E" is involved with music and instruments and playing with the little instruments which I would have never thought that he would be ready for. I've also gotten rid of a lot of silly plastic toys and things that were taking up space that I thought we needed...
In the Montessori way, Amanda set up a play area/ floor mat where E can move freely and enjoy the activities of his family all around him. The first thing that the family did was to engineer a way to hang the wonderful Montessori mobiles that are an integral part of the infant environment. The Montessori infant environment is called a "Nido" which means "nest" in Italian.
More from Amanda:
So first, E LOVES both mobiles; he "talks" to both of them. He loves the dancer mobile and can sit under it for quite a while, babbling and cooing. I can really see him inspecting all the parts of the dancer mobile, its like they are performing above him.
2. PREPARE YOURSELF
Meanwhile, Amanda herself has been reading Montessori parenting books and watching Montessori videos whenever she can.
Two great Montessori books about the child aged 0-3, are available as eBooks these days and this makes it easier for busy families to access this information just about anywhere on a mobile device!
I personally love both of these books and they are available from many sites, including Amazon. Just click on the image to view each of them.
3. KEEP IT SIMPLE AND BEAUTIFUL
I've had such fun exploring the Montessori "Nido" ideas for Baby's environment. Here is an example I came up with for a lovely little space for a lovely little one to enjoy the sunny window and even view a family photo at Baby's eye level.
All Montessori environments emphasize wooden materials, natural lighting, and uncluttered, well-organized activities for a child to explore freely.
4. ENCOURAGE MULTI-AGE LEARNING
M must really enjoy interacting with E because Amanda has sent me so many photos of big brother showing Baby the materials from the Montessori Baby-ed baskets. Multi-age learning is another hallmark of the Montessori method and this happens spontaneously in the home!
5. BRING IT TO THE CHILD'S LEVEL
I just love this photo of M laying out all the pictures of the musical instruments from this packet from the Michael Olaf Company! The pictures are very beautiful and "isolate the concept" (one musical instrument per picture).
Isolation of a concept is yet another Montessori principle of education that really resonates with the young child. In the picture above, M is carefully laying out this set of 10 pictures almost like a whole orchestra at his fingertips!
6. PROVIDE QUALITY MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS THAT ARE CHILD-FRIENDLY
In the world of Montessori, children are given real objects to experience and explore. And, Dr. Montessori points out that the newborn's sense of hearing is still developing at the time of birth, and so it is very important to offer sensory learning experiences that enhance the auditory development in the child.
M and E are both enjoying the delightful sound of the Mbiri (African Thumb Piano) which can be played easily by the three year old and gently stimulates the development of hearing in the infant.
I always recommend to parents that they purchase real instruments for their children as opposed to "toy musical instruments." (that are often made of plastic and just sound terrible!) Even the Mbiri pictured above is a beautiful sounding one that is also easy enough for a young child to manipulate. The little bars actually play a musical scale and so any age can enjoy this lovely instrument.You can check out the instruments I like at My Amazon Shop.
And just look at how much practice big brother is getting with the small motor development of the fingers and hand!
7. TRY NOT TO INTERRUPT
When I see this picture of E gazing so intently at the Dancer Mobile that Amanda says he "talks" to...I can see that look of concentration that leads to deep inner satisfaction.
Amanda has mentioned so often that E will engage with these Montessori materials for long periods of time, and I know that she is careful not to interrupt him, so that he develops a longer attention span.
What a lucky little one! His mom has really embraced the Montessori method of education and he is benefiting from birth on.
8. MAKE MUSIC TOGETHER
Being a music teacher, I am going to be emphasizing musical experiences in the Montessori environment because I know how much children benefit from these.
Even so, you can immediately see the multiple benefits of the musical experience for this family when you see this adorable photo! Big brother can actually hold the wooden recorder and blow into the mouth piece. This has got to inspire Baby to try it out himself in the very near future!
And, once again, you can see the wonderful practice that M is getting with exercising the muscles of the hand that will be important to writing (and playing other musical instruments!) in the near future as well.
9. OBSERVE AND ADJUST
From this photo, you can see that E is entering the next stage of development, grasping!
He can actually hold on to his little chime ball, now. With our knowledge of child development and the wise practice of "observing" as Montessori educators, Amanda and I are already anticipating what might really engage E in the next few weeks...he's ready for the Montessori "tactile mobiles!"
10. HAVE FUN WITH YOUR OWN FAVORITE MUSIC
So often, we turn to music for just about all occurrences in life. Seasonal celebrations, times of sorrow, changes in life, happy occasions, and even relieving stress!
One of the most beneficial parts of music is its therapeutic value to us. Just listening to Ray Charles music energizes me and gets me dancing! It can change my grumpy mood into utter happiness in a matter of minutes!
I am sure that you have a favorite genre of music that brightens your day and relieves the stress of life with active young children. When you share your love of music with your children, everyone wins.
So, here you have it. Ten ways to create that lovely musically Montessori family life. And, I'm sure there are gazillions more ways that I've yet to write about!
I love this final comment from Amanda:
Lastly, as much as the boys are enjoying all of this, so am I - I really feel like it has educated and informed me as a parent. I have made a conscious effort now to only have things with purpose around that are going to stimulate and educate the boys. I feel like this is what I always wanted for them (and my family) but I didn't know that it still existed. Our society just pumps us full of all the "other stuff" so it feels SO good to get back to a natural and enriching environment.
Thanks again for visiting my Blog. I would love to hear about the ways that you are bringing The Arts to your children in your home. Please feel free to tell me about your ideas by dropping a quick line or two in the comment section below!
You can find more ideas for your Montessori family at the Montessori Monday Link-up at Living Montessori Now. My article is one of many resources you will discover there!
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