Montessori Summer — One Difficult Area
This summer, we’re looking at ways to incorporate Montessori outside the classroom, on both the blog and on the podcast. In the last weeks, we explored Space and Time, and this time we’re bringing those together to problem-solve one difficult area.
What’s one area that would have a big impact? Is it a time of day? Is it an area in the home? Is it a process? What minor changes could be made to a challenging aspect of the day, that might make things easier, a small change that could have positive ripple effects?
We’d encourage starting with an aspect of regular daily life, such as the morning routine, or preparing lunch, or part of the regular routine, such as preparations on Sunday evening to set the week up positively, rather than an event which might only happen occasionally. Small modifications to frequently occurring events will have a bigger impact on daily life, as well as making things easier and simpler, which is the goal! What’s one difficult area, one area that consistently creates stress or frustration, where minimal work will create maximum dividends?
“What’s one difficult area, one area that consistently creates stress or frustration, where minimal work will create maximum dividends?”
Each family situation is unique, but here are a few areas that often come up for families, and where small changes have big impact.
Lunches. Perhaps it always gets forgotten, or there’s always a fight about the food in the lunch, or one doesn’t ever get made until we’re flying out the door. Where’s the challenge? Identifying the challenging area also helps to identify the solution.
If it’s hard to remember to bring the lunch, setting an alarm for five minutes prior to the usual time to leave can be the reminder we need. If a child is not enthusiastic about the contents of the lunch, the time to discuss it is not as we’re headed out the door. Is there space and time to have a child come with the the grocery store and to have a voice in choosing nutritious options? Sometimes just being asked your opinion is enough to elicit cooperation.
If lunches are a challenge, try one of these small steps:
- Pack lunch the night before.
- Invite participation. Which vegetable would you like? What would you like for protein?
- Set a phone reminder for five minutes before you need to head out the door.
Mornings. We never have enough time, do we? How is it possible that the minutes in the morning fly by faster than any other time of day? We’re never surprised but the tasks that need to happen, and yet, in some ways, we are! It’s 7 already?! No one has their teeth brushed! Sometimes something as simple as a visual chart of the tasks, in words or in images, can help a child be independent with completing the few tasks they need to before we head out the door, which means we can spend less time nagging and more time enjoying one another. Sometimes, as hard as it is, waking up just five or ten minutes earlier can be a huge difference in a stressful or an easy morning. Though the thought of less sleep can be unpleasant, if it means easing into our day, an extra hug, or sitting down to eat breakfast, it might be worth it.
If mornings are tough, start here:
- Start five or ten minutes earlier. Even a small buffer can make a difference.
- Move tasks to the night before
- Create a visual schedule, so no one is “surprised” by what needs to happen each day.
Evenings. Evenings can be a bit of a runaway train. We have things we need to do and things we want to do before bed, and, especially in the summer, bedtime comes so soon! Again, implementing a schedule can help make sure those “needs” happen, so the “wants” can happen. Can things be shifted around? Can baths happen while dinner is being prepared, so we have time for one more story? Can lunches be made as we’re cleaning up, so we’re helping out our future selves? Evenings can set the next day up for success, and closing out today well, is important for starting tomorrow well, too.
If you’d rather end each evening on a brighter note:
- Set a schedule, and stick to it. “One more (book, game, anything!) can slide into too tired quickly.
- Be kind to your future self. What can be done now, that tomorrow morning you’ll be thankful is crossed off?
- Take care of Needs first, and then jump into Wants.
Preparation for the week. Many of us are on a schedule of Monday to Friday, with days off on Saturday and Sunday. While it can be hard to say goodbye to the together adventures that the weekend brings, it can be a bit easier to ease back into the routine if we’re feeling prepared. Maybe Sunday evenings can be spent looking at the weather and the calendar, and making any preparations that are needed. Maybe it’s the perfect time to head to the store and buy groceries for the week, so you aren’t surprised on Monday morning when there’s no ingredients for lunches. Maybe it’s remembering the field trip this week, and making sure the right accessories and permission slip are ready to go.
To prepare the week well:
- Look at the calendar and prepare for upcoming events.
- Check out the weather and make sure favorite outfits are appropriate and clean.
- Do a grocery shop so lunches are simpler.
These are just a few ideas for ways a bit of preparation of space and time can make a big difference in making life easier. Solutions are as unique as the families who implement them, and maybe none of these are challenging areas for you. Maybe your challenges are in laundry, or in a tidy toy area, or in ensuring the library books make it back on time. Hopefully these ideas have started your own ideas, for one difficult area where small changes could have a big impact. When we feel successful with one challenging area, we begin to see ways we can set ourselves up for success in other areas, as well!
Written by:Charlotte Wood