Let me tell you! What a fun and exciting age this is. There is nothing like a crawling baby to tear apart your bead cabinet in a matter of um...say 5 seconds. Oh and the joy of teaching a young child how to toilet train. Good times. But seriously, this period from birth, or really the womb, to three years old, lays the foundation for the rest of the child's life. How he will respond, emotionally and physically, to all of the challenges that come to him. It is the most important work we do in a child's life. Now, let's be honest, it can also be quite the challenge! I hope that this page gives you a few ideas on how to get the ball rolling in this area of your homeschool classroom.
A favorite resource of mine is the book called Montesssori: From the Start by Paula Lillard. She helps the ordinary parent apply basic Montessori principles in the home. There are a plethora of ideas and examples of how to setup your home, including optimizing the daily living space and the child's bedroom environment. Here are a few examples of home environments where parents have implemented these concepts.
Low shelves allow the child to see the materials at eye level. This makes the material accessible at all times and the child does not need assistance from an adult.
Work rugs are provided to create a visual work space for the child. A child-sized table is also available for additional materials.
Books are a must in any Montessori environment and should be age appropriate. Montessori pedagogy explains in detail the need for real objects and real experiences for children under 6 years old. For example, a child should not be reading a story about animals dressed up and talking. Here is a great list of Montessori appropriate books for young children.
Practical life activities within the home environment remain fundamental to the development of the child. Having the materials at their level, their size, and accessible is the key in a properly functioning environment. However, I can guess what a few of you guys are thinking! Isn't this going to be messy and cause extra work for me?!?! Of course it will! There is nothing like a toddler having free rein over a water spout or their own glass dishware. I can't even begin to count how many times I have cleaned broken glass off my kitchen floor. (That's why we buy our dishes at the dollar store.) It has been my saving grace for letting those dishes go knowing that they only cost a $1 to begin with. The child is then able to learn how things will break if we do not treat them properly.