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Basic principles for doing Montessori at home

A mom had recently asked on my community forum what activities she can do to entertain her bored infant. On re-reading my response at the time, I realized that this is possibly one of my best summaries (so far) of how to do Montessori at home. Am sharing it with you here. – Grace.

For at home: It helps to have toys and activities that are a challenge, but not too difficult for them. Challenges keep them interested. For example: Sorting toys with many holes, different shapes, or color sorting may be too difficult at this stage. If you have one of those, it might be good to take away all the shapes except the easiest (usually the circle), and introduce the other shapes gradually as he masters it. Toys that are self-correcting (stacking cups where if you stack the larger one on the smaller one it won’t work, so the baby knows he needs to try again) and open-ended (full of different possibilities, instead of with buttons to push) are best. Also, rotate toys every one or two weeks, don’t leave all of them out at once. At this point, if he can sit up – make up little discovery baskets for him out of household items. If he can play with it for 15 ~30 minutes. That’s great. The moment he changes his attention or acts frustrated (either when they are tired of it or it is too challenging), take it away and introduce it at a later time. They usually show frustration by banging or throwing the toys.

Activity to-go: Toothpicks in spice jar.

Activity to-go: Toothpicks in spice jar.

Attention and the ability to self-entertain is like a muscle: it takes effort to build it up. Sit back and try not to constantly help or intervene with their efforts. If you do, they will constantly look to you to be entertained and will not try themselves. When he achieves something, you don’t have to interject with praise immediately also, as he should have adequate satisfaction in his own accomplishment, and praise takes the attention away from his work and onto you. It also interrupts their concentration.


玩小石頭和分類盒, 專注時間: 25 分鐘。 Playing with bag of pebbles and sorting container. Concentration: 25 min.

玩小石頭和分類盒, 專注時間: 25 分鐘。 Playing with bag of pebbles and sorting container. Concentration: 25 min.


Also, make the environment accessible to him. Like some of the lower cabinets he can open and take out the items to explore (you can hide new discovery baskets there. Look up discovery baskets on pinterest – there are tons of ideas!) Most of the ideas I have here are from reading about Montessori.

It’s great to have playdates, where two or more babies can watch and imitate each other. Janet Lansbury has some really good videos on this

In fine company

Also, before the age of two, try not to give things that are too entertaining, like cartoons and ipad, as it will make it very difficult for them to self-entertain with less ‘interesting’ looking toys, and become an impediment to the child’s pro-activeness. This may sound difficult due to the prevailing culture for educational programs and apps. To help with your decision making, here is an article explaining developmental reasons why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no tv under the age of 2. (these are actually 2 separate articles)

Screen Shot 2013-03-02 at 1.45.15 AM


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