Montessori and Minimalistic Parenting

Introduction

Minimalism is a concept that is becoming popular with people across the world. In a nutshell, it is learning to live with less - less consumption, less accumulation, and making space for things and experiences that do matter. 


Parents who have opted for minimalistic lifestyle and parenting methods have seen the outcome as more happiness, more quality time with children, a sense of well-being, and peace from having to organize, clean, and manage clutter, etc.


Montessori philosophy is already a minimalistic approach that has been there for several years now. The central element of the Montessori education system is facilitating the child to learn life skills to be independent, encouraging his connection to people and the environment he lives in. 


In the Montessori system and education, the children focus on the essentials early in life, and the unessential and distracting things are moved away. As a result, Montessori homes and classrooms are well organized, clutter-free, and give out an ambiance of calmness and purpose. As children continue to learn and work in these environments, they imbibe these elements in the environment as part of their personality.


A lot of parents these days are choosing to be minimalists. If their children are already in a Montessori setup, it’s easier for them to create a Montessori setup at home with minimalistic aspects. 


Here are some of the common factors between Montessori and Minimalistic Parenting and how you can benefit from the minimalistic Montessori methods as a parent.


“Over-abundance debilitates and retards progress; this has been proved again and again by my collaborators.”

-Maria Montessori



1. Reuse and Reduce Materials

Although it appears that having a Montessori setup means having a lot of materials and things available at all times, it is quite the opposite. In the Montessori structure, several things are repurposed and reused. 


Both Minimalism and Montessori approaches believe in being able to find multiple-use for the same item.


One of the primary ways to achieve this at home is to purchase good-quality items for the children requiring fewer repairs and replacements. Children do not need too many things. Instead, they need a few things/ items which are purposeful and functional.


Some examples of how parents can reuse things at home for their children could be: big cardboard boxes can be tilted and used as bookshelves. Empty shoe boxes can be used for storing items. Children can do pouring activities using empty, unused jars, bowls, and glasses from the kitchen. Having a small green patch, growing your own fruits and vegetables, and making meals can show children how to be independent, eat fresh, and consume less from the markets. In addition, you get bonus points if you can show children how to compost.


Minimalism and Montessori both emphasize quality vs. quantity. This emphasis becomes a lifestyle choice after a point of time for people.


Minimalistic parents also choose to have fewer clothes, shoes, bags, and toys for their children. As a result, children will have a few good-quality things that will be durable and reusable.

2. Practical Life Skills Through Everyday Materials

Minimalism philosophy is about making the things you have around you work for you. That includes using the various household items creatively to help children in learning and skill development. 


Parents could encourage their children to explore practical life skills by using household items. Cleaning materials in the house can be made accessible to the children to independently dust, scrub, clean, or mop. Children can care for the plants, organize laundry, fold clothes, chop vegetables and fruits, help

in meal preparation, etc. They can sort vegetables and fruits in the refrigerator, sort grains, do pouring activities with dessert cups and bowls.


All these activities are functional life skills that children need, and they need not be bought from a shop or do not cost a dime. Parents who follow minimalism also inspire their children who grow up to be environmentally conscious individuals who consume less.


3. Use All The Available Free Sources

Being able to use all the free resources available in your community is another way to be minimalistic.


Montessori philosophy also encourages children to explore their community and engage with the world around them as part of the learning process. Children can explore the public libraries and borrow books to read instead of buying them. In addition, they can visit art exhibitions and cultural events, which are accessible for exposure and learning.


Parents can plan family outings to parks, hikes, beaches to engage with nature and have quality time outdoors. Parents could take advantage of any community or local free events organized for children on special occasions. For example, summer and winter music festivals or concerts are great opportunities for children to explore culture without any cost.


Practicing minimalism helps parents use their time in a better and productive way on activities that bring more pleasure and joy.

4. Follow the Popular Decluttering Rule - 1:1 

Decluttering is an essential part of minimalism. When you visit a Montessori classroom or a home where parents follow the Montessori method for their children, the first striking factor is lack of clutter. The homes where parents follow Montessori methods are well organized with only the essentials and everything item in the house has a place and is kept back after use.


The more clutter we have, the more time we clean, organize and sort through stuff. But, unfortunately, this also means more stress and chaos and feeling overwhelmed while having to clean. Keeping things to a minimum and having less clutter around will keep the environment around the home calm and serene.


The popular minimalistic decluttering rule is that you dispose of one old item for every new item you bring into your home. This way, you make space and do not end up with too many things. Children can be encouraged to do this by asking them to give away an old toy or a dress or an item they do not wish to use before bringing in a new item or toy or clothing. This 1:1 rule can apply to all aspects of the house and not just with children.



Montessori children imbibe a specific order as they work with the materials. They place things in the order of use, have an order in setting up as they start work, and a winding-up process after completion. Children also learn to clean up after themselves and keep the place ready for use for others. 


Having less clutter and fewer things around can help children to be calmer, have fewer tantrums and mood swings and parents also are more productive and efficient. Parents having less stuff equals more free time to explore activities and interests and hobbies, more quality time with children, more mental space, and calmness to be more creative and happy.

Minimalism Inspires Creativity 

Another common factor that Montessori and minimalism have is creativity. Minimalistic parents get creative with what is available at hand. It is thinking out of the box to repurpose and reuse items. 


Children can also have less structured activities at home to innovate and create their games and activities, which they inevitably do. As parents, we could also let the child auto-correct themselves for better learning. If we allow them to do so, children will learn to solve their problems and find a way around challenges.


Some methods for parents to be creative at home with the materials available at hand would be to create activities that have increasing complexity. These methods could range from simple to complex. Rotate the materials that children use so that they do not lose interest. This could be done by making simple changes like changing the containers for activities, placing them at a different place, and adding one or two new elements to the existing work material for the child. This can keep the interest alive for the child.


Parents can encourage their children to make their own snacks and cookies, do simple cooking, create their own games, make their own artwork. They can have time for free play, exploration of the house, garden, and neighborhood. We need not structure their time.

Conclusion

Minimalism is all about owning less and disposing of things that are not required and not used. It’s simplifying life and focusing on things that matter. Montessori method is minimalistic, and if parents truly embrace minimalism, they can give their children a happy and thriving life and space to grow up.


Children learn through observation than by what we tell them and teach them. Healthy habits, routines, and how parents handle various aspects of life are something children closely observe and pick up almost instantly.


Minimalistic parenting is more of a lifestyle choice rather than a temporary solution to any problem. It frees you to explore new interests and hobbies and have more fun with your children.

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If you have questions, comments, or if you’d like to suggest future topics, please leave a note in the comments section below.


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