Montessori Parenting and Kids Bathing
“We discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being” - Maria Montessori
If you've ever had to take a child to preschool, you have definitely come across the term Montessori. To be clear, not all preschools are Montessori, but the teaching method is catching on across the globe like wildfire. The teaching philosophy is named after Dr. Montessori, who believed that parents and teachers should nurture the natural gifts of kids and that adults should view children as curious and capable individuals.
So, what exactly is the Montessori philosophy, and how can you get involved as a parent?
Montessori is a teaching method that was discovered and developed in 1906 by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and scientist. Because of her love for children and education, she was invited to create a childcare center in San Lorenzo, a poor inner-city district in Rome for disadvantaged children.
The center, called Casa De Bambini, opened its doors in 1907 and admitted kids who had to survive atrocious situations and had never been schooled before. Most of those kids were expectedly unruly until they started playing and working with puzzles and props that engaged their full senses and encouraged hands-on learning. Dr. Montessori observed the magical transformation of those kids as they became calmer, peaceful, orderly and had a sense of wonder. - Montessori recognized that kids have an extraordinary ability to learn from their environment and teach themselves.
Utilizing this knowledge, Maria designed more unique learning materials for the kids, many of which are used today in Montessori classrooms, and created an environment that fosters a child's natural desire to learn. Since then, the Montessori Method has spread to almost every country in the world and has become a sense of pride for many schools.
The Montessori Philosophy
Montessori philosophy is a view of a child who is eager for knowledge but more importantly capable of initiating learning if they are in a supportive learning environment. This learning environment should invite exploration and owned discovery as opposed to authoritarian directed education from teacher or parent. The philosophy also aims to take care of the whole child-physical, mental, social, cognitive and emotional.
To achieve this, guides in the Montessori Method follow three main principles; (1) observation, (2) individual liberty/freedom, and (3) preparation of the learning environment. In other words, they prepare an environment where children are free to choose from various developmentally appropriate activities to learn.
Unlike conventional learning methods in school, teachers are not standing at the front spouting facts that students should just write down and absorb. Instead, the guides in Montessori classrooms move around from student to student, gently making suggestions and helping the kids to use the provided tools. Essentially, the kids teach themselves and one another through specially designed learning materials, and the teacher is just there as a guide.
Other basic principles applied in the Montessori Method include;
- Respect for the child
- The absorbent mind
- Sensitive periods
- Individualized learning
- Intrinsic motivation
- Freedom of movement and choice
Montessori Home School Educational Opportunities
While the Montessori Method was developed for classrooms, it has ample homeschooling opportunities and benefits. Simply create an environment that aligns with the Montessori philosophies and understand the principles.
Look around your home and identify areas you can display kids' books, items from nature and educational toys. For example, the child's bedroom is a great place to display imaginative playwear, building tools and craft supplies. In other words, you can turn your home into a place that invites your child to learn actively. An often overlooked area to practice Montessori activities is in the bathroom during daily bath time. At Spa-Da we like to make the most out of bath time and we are on a mission to tell parents about the physical and mental benefits of bath time and water play.
This doesn't apply only to parents who homeschool. Even if your child goes to school, learning doesn't end when they come home. You can buy a lot of Montessori learning tools for your house or make some of them. Legos, scrabble letters for spelling, and sandpaper are easily available items you use for Montessori home school.
The Montessori Method is mostly a self-directed and child-led mode of learning through exploration and play. More specifically, kids need to be hands on and many times, getting dirty. The school provides specially developed materials that may look like toys, but they are designed to help kids learn and master concepts. Most of the activities we discuss here encourage concentration, sensory development, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, counting, and identifying things.
One thing to know about Montessori activities is that they are developed according to age groups. Montessori classes are multi-age, so you will find one class with 2-5 years old, 4-6, and 6-9. There are also classes for teenagers, but that's a whole other article.
These activities are for 2-4 years old, which is the age most kids join preschool.
- Coloring. Any child over 15 months can hold a crayon and color on paper. We provide ready-made printables with real-life pictures and allow the child to color inside.
- Matching cards. From 2 years of age, a child can match any 2d or 3d image. For example, have a printable of things like animal pictures and then cutouts of the same animals. The child will take the cutouts and place them where the picture is.
- Scooping. To teach concentration, coordination, and sensory development, set up two bowls-one empty and one with puff balls. The child will use a scoop to transfer all the balls to the empty bowl. Alternatively, put water in one bowl and use a sponge to squeeze in water or a cup.
- Stringing. There’s no better way to develop fine motor skills than stringing. Use a string or shoelace and big beads or round pasta to make necklaces and bracelets. The child has the freedom to make whatever they want.
- Construction. Whether it's blocks, Legos or other wooden toys, constructing things teaches kids to think outside the box, concentrate and persevere.
- Doing chores. The Montessori Method encourages kids to be self-sufficient, kind and helpful. Doing chores is one way to teach this and they include wiping surfaces, watering plants, gardening, putting clothes in the wash, and wiping spills on the floor.
- Cutting. Yes, scissors are allowed in Montessori classes. Again, have a printable of items and let the child cut out specific pictures from the paper.
- Play dough creations. There's a lot kids can do with playdough, from pretend baking, cutting out shapes, and making sculptures. Provide soft play dough and let the child use their creativity to make things.
Montessori Bath Toys & Bath Bombs
One thing is for certain, if Maria Montessori was alive to day she would have been a big fan of water play, bath bombs, and making the most out of bath time. Bath time is an ideal time for toddler s to build verbal and communication skills that are needed in social environments.
Spa-Da kid’s bath bombs and water bombs are Montessori toys that will keep your child’s interest day after day. Our kids bathing products are designed to make bathing easier and reduce stress and anxiety for both children and parents. Bathing and water play is truly a win-win that improves the mental well-being of mom and baby. One of the best things a parent can do for their child during bath time is to talk to them as they play and clean their body.
What is a Montessori-inspired toy?
Montessori toys are toys that respond to a kid’s movement or interaction as opposed to “active” toys that are constantly lighting up or singing. Kid’s Bath Bombs are ‘activation bath toys’ that only react when your child releases it into the water. The activity, fizz, aroma, and colors that are associated with Kid’s Bath Bombs, Kid’s Sprinkles, and Water Bombs are guaranteed to create ‘active learners’.
Soaking in the bath can be a learning experience whether you’re young or old. At Spa-Da we make it easier for parents to get involved with self-directed learning opportunities around bath time. Parents always want the best for their kids, but many parents are missing a major developmental and bonding opportunity when it comes to bath time. Dr. Maria Montessori taught the importance of self-directed and hands-on learning activities and her same principles should be applied to your kids' bathing routines.
Bathing immerses a child in an environment centered on touch, play, language and songs, which helps develop their cognitive and emotional development. The skin-to-skin contact during bath time stimulates the vagus nerve, which in turn stimulates oxytocin or the love hormone, and lowers cortisol or the stress hormone. A mother's touch helps the baby and mom to learn from each other more and cement the bond between them. Enrich your child’s bathing experience the Montessori way.
At Spa-Da we believe in ‘making the most out of bath time’ and have developed a line of kids bathing products that make bath time fun and educational. Our bath bombs and bath sprinkles make it easier to convince your baby that bathing is just as exciting as any game out of the water. They also make bath time more relaxing, thanks to their calming and soothing effects and improved sleep.
Learn Colors The Montessori Way
The educational aspect of these bath bombs and sprinkles is what makes them so perfect for your child. Each bath bomb is a primary color used to teach kids about the shapeless and texture less nature of colors. Kids associate color with objects, and the bath bombs demystify that association and belief.
The child can also use two different colored bath bombs to make a secondary color. These colors and activities will capture the child’s focus and help create new brain connections that will be the basis for future learning. Many toddlers already love splashing, pouring, squirting, and making bubbles in the bath tub, but if your kid hates bath-time, bath bombs can engage your child's senses and ease their anxiety.
Bath Bomb Volcano
Many parents have found alternative uses for bath bombs that includes science experiments and color lessons, but one of the most memorable experience for a toddler is the Bath Bomb Volcano. To create the volcano fill a cup half way full with water and drop a bath bomb into the cup. The cup will fizz, bubble, and overflow into the rest of the bath tub like lava spewing from a volcano.
Creating a Montessori Bathroom
Montessori bathrooms are child centered bathrooms that help you implement your Montessori parenting philosophy and open-ended discovery.
Many parents and soon to be parents have started the process of creating Montessori-inspired bedrooms and play areas, but a Montessori-inspired bathroom can go a long way in developing your child’s self confidence and healthy hygiene habits. Water gives us life, but for curious toddlers, water experiences like bath time creates an essential learning environment. The main objective of a Montessori-inspired bathroom is to provide an organized, planned, and stimulating environment that helps kids develop foundational skills and habits. Dr. Montessori believed that multi-sensory materials and activities helped kids understand abstract concepts and there is arguably no better multi-sensory activity than water play.
Starting around the age of two kids begin to crave their independence and a Montessori-inspired bathroom will empower them to take control of many everyday tasks. This may include brushing teeth, handwashing, using the toilet, washing their body, and cleaning up after themselves.
Any bath room can be turned into a Montessori-inspired bathroom and your child’s bathroom should be simply designed, clutter & distraction free, and organized. Designing a Montessori-inspired bathroom doesn’t require a huge investment, but if you have any questions feel free to reach out and we will connect you with one of our preferred Montessori educators.
New Parent Warning: It’s important to note that young children and toddlers should never be left unattended around water.
How to Become a Montessori Parent
As said earlier, the Montessori Method isn't just for classrooms anymore- it is a way of life that now involves hygiene and self-care. The Montessori parent respect’s their child’s wants and needs and uses clear communication and cooperation to teach important life lessons. Montessori parents do not yell, bribe, or shame kids into learning. Parents are the first teachers and home life contributes more to learning than school. But how do you become a Montessori parent when you haven't gone to school like the teachers?
It comes down to learning the principles of Montessori philosophy. This method requires you to respect your child, give them freedom and space to learn, observe and create an environment that fosters self-directed learning.
Observing is the most important aspect because it will allow you to notice things like sensitive periods (a time when the child takes great interest in acquiring a skill), what the child needs in terms of tools and books, and even emotional support.
Discipline is also a big part of Montessori parenting. Instead of punishing or allowing, Montessori parents use the authoritative method of parenting, which is high-responsive and high-expectations. We use a combination of natural and logical consequences as well as setting boundaries. For example, if the child intentionally knocks over their food because they don't like it, the logical consequence is to clean up the mess, and the natural consequence is going to bed without food.
Finally, you can only teach by example because kids learn best from experience. Model the behavior you want to see in your child. This includes verbalizing your emotions, dealing with anger, cleanliness, and even reading.
Being a Montessori parent is about understanding that kids naturally desire to learn and live in harmony with others. So instead of being an authority figure spoon-feeding the child with rules and lessons, simply be a guide who shows them the way and then gives them the freedom to learn. The world has a way of teaching everyone what they need to know as long as the environment is suitable.