“Keshav! Come in with Keerthi. Play time is over”, Seetha called her children who are playing outside.
“Can we please have twenty more minutes Amma, pleeeease?” pleaded Keerthi.
“I can give you not more than ten minutes”, said Seetha, coming out of the house.
“Yay! Okay-ma. Thank you!” said Keshav as he jumped with joy and ran towards his friends.
“Keerthi, Keshav, your ten minutes are over now, come in right away” said Seetha in ten minutes.
“Okay, bye guys. We must go now. Let’s play again tomorrow.” said Keerthi and Keshav to their friends as they ran in.
Vaishnavi, the new neighbor of Seetha is impressed and amazed by this scene. She comes to Seetha to ask her how she got her children to listen to her so easily. Seetha reveals that her children know that playtime is a privilege and that they will lose their playtime if they misuse the privilege.
“Isn’t that harsh? Children have to play every day”, said Vaishnavi. Seetha smiles and says, “Yes. And it is because children need to play every day that it is important that they understand consequences right at the beginning. That way none of us has to be upset or frustrated.”
This simple logic is how Montessori works at home – allowing the child freedom while still helping them to understand that freedom comes with responsibilities. Keshav and Keerthi both go to a Montessori school. Seetha, and her husband Ram, started to educate themselves about Montessori principles and practices ever since little Keshav started schooling. They first tried simple things at home with Keshav and noticed some positive changes which encouraged them to follow the system wholly.
What did Seetha and Ram do?
- Ram and Seetha discussed and made a few important decisions on how they want to bring up their children. They agreed that they will always make decisions together and have each other’s backs for the wellbeing of their children. When Ram said ‘No’ for something Seetha said ‘No’ too. They were consistent and followed through no matter what the situation.
- Both of them began to make a conscious effort in role modelling for their children. They understood early that children imitate everything they do and therefore it was important that they behave and speak in the way that their children can see and learn. Even disagreements were discussed and decided upon without raised voices.
- They started being firm in her decisions at home. For example, when she gave an extra five minutes to play, she made sure it was only five minutes. Keshav was very upset and threw tantrums at first, but after a few times he realized that tantrums won’t work. When he threw a fit, Seetha and Ram spoke calmly and told him that they understand that he enjoys playing but that he also has to know that there are consequences for his actions, and that he will have to lose playtime. Even if Keshav apologized for the tantrum, they thanked Keshav for his apology but still let him know that he will still lose his playtime as decided. With practice, Keshav soon learned to come home when the play time is over. He was happy that he got playtime everyday too.
- When they take the children for shopping, they made a list beforehand with the children present and participating in making the list. At the shop they gave the children choices of items in the list from which each of them would take turns to choose. Even when they were buying a toy or a dress, the parents chose two or three items first and let the children to pick one from among them.
- Each child was given simple individual household chores for which they were solely responsible and this was apart from taking care of their own things. It was always the children’s duty to put away their toys after playing, putting their folded laundry into their shelves, polishing their shoes, etc. They were also included and involved in the general chores around the house such as helping with food preparation, washing the family vehicle, garden care, and other such jobs.
- They always prepared their children before family functions or outings. They explained where, when and what is going to happen. They gave the children an idea of what to expect and what their role will be. When they had to travel, the children were involved in packing the bags and suitcases – choice of clothes and where in the suitcase each item can be kept.
When they tried Montessori techniques it took some time to get used to thinking ahead and planning so that the children can be involved, but soon they realized that it helped them all live a stress-free life. Home life routine was smooth and filled with good cheer in everything they did. Every outing with the children was pleasant and enjoyable. The children started to show positive signs of being responsible and respectful of people and things even outside of the house. They were aware about what’s happening around them and were able to adjust according to the surroundings. The Montessori way of life made a discernible positive impact on all their lives.