I was so touched by everyone’s comments about the Montessori method on the first Montessori Inspired post. It seems like a good extension of our parenting, and we hold high hopes that there will be space next school year for our three boys in the school in which we have been hoping to be accepted (there’s a stinkin’ wait list).

In a nutshell, the Montessori method strives to educate children through a framework of independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural developmental stages. Uninterrupted work time, usually for blocks of up to three hours, are common. These principals appeal to me on so many levels, as I strongly feel that in our day and age, the emphasis seems to be on rushing through tasks to complete others; shuffling our kids from place to place, activity to activity, class to class; and cramming as many extra curricular activities into the daylight (and nighttime) hours as possible. DSC_0007



I know that every family is different, but what I’ve learned in mothering our three boys so far is that they seem happiest and most at peace when they are given plenty of freedom to engage in the activities they choose. They seem to thrive with plenty of fresh air, little-to-no screen time, and a framework of independence within structure.

Their abilities continue to amaze me. With art supplies, cups, bowls, and silverware within reach, they get their own snacks and drinks, start their own art projects. Often when they ask for something, Andrew and I gently encourage them to figure out a way to do it themselves, or to help each other do it. Of course, if they need help, we don’t deny them that. But it is mind-blowing what children can do for themselves when we only allow them! DSC_0019






Giving your child the space and ability to clean up after himself afterwards (even though it won’t be perfect) is a crucial step in the process. Keeping a dust pan and brush where your child can reach them encourages him to go and get it without prompting!

If you are interested in exploring Montessori at home, here are a few basics to get you started. Right now I am reading everything I can get my hands on and hoping that we will be doing it for real next year!

19 thoughts on “Montessori-Inspired”
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  1. I really admire you and what you’re doing with your boys. I totally agree with your principles, though I am not nearly so good at implementing them. I’m having a really hard time with Gus’s constant “I’m bored” refrain, and I feel like I have accidentally reinforced it by supplying an answer for him. This parenting thing isn’t going to get easier, is it?

  2. I’m in the Rachel camp. My dudes are more capable than I push them to be. I need to implement some of these suggestions! Though they both LOVE to vacuum and spray windex. So, there’s hope!

  3. I went to a Montessori school when I was young, and I have the nicest memories of it. I hope to pass the same concepts on to my kids (someday.) Pittsburgh has a public Montessori, another reason for us to stay in the the city as long as we can!

  4. Awesome post. I am definitely going to explore more of the Montessori method as it seems right up my alley with what I want for and believe in for Alice. And you’re right, if I just give Alice some time and gentle encouragement, she DOES figure things out on her own, in her own time. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Definitely in this camp too… although W is hilarious because he’ll happily chop and sweep and feed the cat but refuses to put on his own clothes, drink from an open cup or use utensils (although he’s doing okay with chopsticks!). I work hard to encourage him to do a lot on his own, even though I think he’s naturally not the most independent kid.

    At the risk of writing a crazy long comment, there’s one aspect of Montessori (at least as I understand it) that doesn’t totally jive with me and I’m curious to know if you have a different impression. When I spoke to a M. Instructor, she explained that all of the ‘jobs’ are based on real life activities and fantasy is discouraged (okay, I can maybe go with that-although I’m personally okay with a few fairies 🙂 )… but also that there are particular ‘materials’ for intended ‘jobs’ and that they shouldn’t be misused. For example, a child should not take out paintbrushes and start lining them up to pretend they’re trains… that child would be encouraged to find materials that allowed them to explore trains or to do the ‘work’ of painting. That just feels too prescriptive for me, wondering if you guys do enjoy that structure or maybe the school there isn’t as faithful to this aspect of Montessori? I’m thinking a lot about all the options for W’s future schooling too, so hoping it works out for you guys and looking forward to benefitting from your experience.

  6. Lilly- I love when you leave long, thoughtful comments! It really means the world because you make me think about things, truly. And so far you have brought up some really great points about education in general. As far as discouraging fantasy, I did have that impression at a Montessori school I toured while Milo was only two in Washington, DC years ago. We ended up not going with the school not because of that, but because I hadn’t gotten a great feeling when I walked in the door. The school we are applying to does not come across as that prescriptive.

    But I tend to be an interesting case when choosing things; I generally just trust my instincts and if I feel good when I walk into a place, and feel good talking to the people who run it, I’m pretty easily sold. So far, so good. But you do raise some interesting questions that I will be sure to ask the Directress. However, in general, the order and “everything has a purpose and its place” piece of Montessori really do appeal to me in a school. How we are in our own home will definitely not be as strict.

    Of course, we will support Montessori in our home to the best of our ability and where it fits our parenting and family style, but I think having a more ordered school environment is a good thing for us. At home we tend to give lots and lots of free play and down time, so it will be a balance. Our boys initiate almost every play and work activity themselves, and occasionally ask us to engage in play with them (usually building, reading, or moving some piece of furniture around, ha, ha!). We also see them using instruments in varying ways, and encourage that creativity. I will be sure to share what I am learning in my Montessori-Inspired posts! I am learning so much as I go!

  7. So, I’m curious to know if Milo went to another Montessori school, or did you choose another option for him? And Oliver? Or is Emil the first? Is he on a waitlist?
    I think it’s great. I wish I had thought to employ some Montessori methods right from the start! I think I will try…the 3 year old and 1 year old should embrace it. Maybe my 5 yo will…
    Thanks, Lauren!

  8. Thank you, Jose! Pin away!

    And Heather, Milo and Oliver have had pretty traditional preschool experiences. Milo is currently in kindergarten at a public school and though we love the other kids & parents, it just isn’t the right fit for our family and how we are trying to raise our guys. So we will be switching him to a Montessori next year (if we are accepted) which goes through 6th grade. It is an amazing school and we are so hopeful!

    All three will be entering at the same time, but I guess Emil will be most engrossed since this will be his first school experience.

  9. I love your blog. Beautiful family and always such thoughtful posts. I’m wondering if you would share what school you are considering for your children? I have a 3 year old and am considering options for the future. Thank you.

  10. Love these posts that are you doing! I wish there was an education system like this where I am located. I wanted to ask, you seem like such an educating and inspiring mom – are there any specific toys, books, games, etc. that have assited you along the way? Or that your boys seemed to really enjoy? Would love to hear the input! Thanks!

  11. Margaret, thank you so much! I have no idea where to start, since a lot of what we do builds on what we’ve done before, or just ideas that seem to pop into my head as we’re spending time together during the day…

    That being said, I would say that currently, our most played-with toys are Magna Tiles (they are incredible, really!), we read books constantly (most recently the Little House series and The Whipping Boy for my older two), and I often take cues from what my older boys are interested in at the moment. They actually come up with some pretty amazing and creative ideas all on their own.

  12. No problem! Thank you for answering. I appreciate it. I also read the above response post with the links you provided…thanks for that too! I’m going to look into those tiles!

  13. Thanks for the book recommendations, Lauren.

    I’d like to comment on what Lilly wrote, too. I read “Montessori From the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three” (

    I liked it, but when talking about the practical life tasks, there was one point when the authors stressed that anytime you clean anything (a table, a window, a mirror), you ALWAYS have to wipe from left to right, top to bottom, otherwise the task might devolve into silliness and games. I, too, find it too prescriptive to imagine always cleaning everything with a particular hand motion (and by implication, correcting my child if he uses a different but equally effective pattern); further, I want my children to sometimes find joy and laughter in practical life tasks. Isn’t that what brings true joy and meaning into our lives?

    So glad that you two have addressed this question.

  14. Jodi, thank you for your thoughtful comment! I have heard that some books on Montessori can come across as a little bit severe in the methods- maybe this is one of them? Though I haven’t read it so I can’t pass judgement.

    On the other hand, I think of how I wipe down counters and the kitchen table after eating dinner, and I suppose I agree that the most efficient way to wipe is either side to side or top to bottom. I think the idea is to be concise when showing a child something- not to be narrow-minded about how to do something, but to show them the most efficient way of doing it.

    And YES! I agree that tasks should be done with joy and laughter! Yes, yes, yes! 🙂

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