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Observe how your child likes to play.

The first way we began engaging this philosophical practice was simply by observing our child, noticing which toys she was drawn to, and thinking about what she was attempting to master developmentally. As a parent, it can be easy to pressure yourself to be perfect and come up with brilliant activities every day that aim to teach your children. This mentality can lead to high levels of parental stress and feelings of defeat when these new and exciting activities only keep your child actively engaged for a few minutes.

To combat this, try slowing down and observing what set of physical and/or mental skills your child is aiming to master next. Once noted, you can offer play opportunities to your child that adapt to these developmental shifts. For example, if your little one is trying to master pouring, you can set up pouring stations with water outside, give them a spoon or scoop to use with their toys inside, or see if they want to help you pour something to eat or drink. Remember these household shifts don't mean you need to go out and buy anything new. It means noticing the skills they keep going back to that particular day and offering opportunities to play that enable that skill use.

Using the Montessori Method With My Toddler Engages Her Creativity - and Lowers My Stress

I first learned about the Montessori method when I was in grad school for my master's degree in marriage and family therapy. This was well before I had my first child, so I wasn't looking at this way of learning with a parental lens, but even then, I knew I liked this holistic approach.

Years later when I became a parent, I delved deep into the research that examined Montessori schools vs. non-Montessori schools. What I took away from these studies was that children who are taught using the Montessori method tend to have higher levels of creativity than their counterparts in non-Montessori schools. Other studies have noted that children who attend Montessori schools are more likely to experience intrinsic learning, meaning they are engaged in what interests them, and feel personally motivated to learn more. This is typically not the case in conventional schools, where grades and structured progress reports make it clear what the expectations for learning are without allowing much room for exploration. Children who attend Montessori schools tend to exhibit higher levels of confidence in their abilities to learn and master skills, with the majority of them stating that they are happy to attend school. In other words, children who are exposed to Montessori ways of learning tend to feel more confident in themselves, enjoy facing new challenges, regularly engage their creativity, and have higher levels of emotional intelligence.

The Montessori method focuses on providing infants up to kids who are 18 with an open, interactive environment conducive to learning typical school subjects, as well as music, art, and life skills, with the ultimate goal of developing healthy adults. Some of my favorite aspects of this method are that it introduces new and exciting ways to look at mundane activities and that it views play as the child's work. With little ones, keeping them engaged and curious in their environment is especially important as they can easily get bored, which can lead to frustration and agitation on their part. As for parents, we all know how challenging and stressful this can be.

There are a few ways to implement this type of open learning in your home that can lead to an increase in your child's creativity and engagement and therefore a decrease in your stress level as a parent. Keep reading for what we do and how we do it!

Related:

45 Boredom Busters For Toddlers