Montessori is an educational approach for young children that seeks to educate by developing natural interests and activities rather than using formal teaching methods. In her new book, The Montessori Toddler, author Simone Davies gives us a practical, step-by-step guide on how to raise self-sufficient, curious, independent toddlers while helping parents become more mindful, easy going and attentive. Here are her Five Ingredients for Curiosity: 1. TRUST IN THE CHILD Dr. Montessori encourages us to trust that the child wants to learn and grow, and that they intrinsically know what they need to do to develop. We can also trust them to learn the limits of their bodies. They may have accidents while exploring the world around them but that is how they learn. We will be there if they want to be held. Are we constantly worrying about our child’s development or whether they will hurt themselves? Can we practice setting aside those worries about the future and enjoy where they are today?
2. A RICH LEARNING ENVIRONMENT For a child to develop curiosity and a desire to learn, we must provide a rich learning environment and time to explore it. Explorations in nature can be totally free, or cost very little (try putting some dried beans in a cardboard tube). We should offer children opportunities to practice what they are mastering right now. What does our child’s environment look like? Does it provide opportunities for exploration? 3. TIME For children to develop and follow their urge to discover, explore and wonder, they need time that is unscheduled and unrushed. Allow time for movement, exploration, language and conversation. Allow time for building connections, wonder and curiosity. We should think creatively about our days and weeks. Can we change things to carve out 15 to 30 minutes of unscheduled time every day? Perhaps an hour on the weekend? What commitments can we let go of? 4. A SAFE AND SECURE BASE As a parent, we can provide physical and emotional safety and security. We childproof our homes and keep our child physically safe from electrical outlets, busy roads and other dangers. We can give them emotional safety, too. We can accept them for who they are and they can trust us to be there for them. This sense of security allows the child the freedom to be curious in the world. Are there ways to show our child that we are there for them? Are we able to acknowledge the big feelings they are having about things that seem small to us? 5. FOSTERING A SENSE OF WONDER We can ask our child questions about the world we see, invite them to explore with their senses, and get out into nature as often as possible. Are we modelling wonder for our child? Do we allow them to explore with all of their senses? Do we use nature to inspire a sense of wonder in our child?
Extracted from The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies (Workman, £14.99). ©2019. The extract has been edited.