With summer winding down and school’s start date just around the corner, many families are rushing to get ready. But this preparation period needn’t be stressful!
The Montessori educational philosophy encourages independence and confidence in children of all ages by creating a supportive environment for all their needs, developing routines and a sense of order, and honoring the process over the product.
Use these 7 Montessori-inspired tips to ensure your family is ready for this transition while encouraging independence in your children and a peaceful routine for everyone.
1. Adjust your wakeup schedule.
Several weeks before school starts, transition your child to their morning wakeup time. If your child is old enough, set them up with an alarm to foster independence.
Talk with your child about what they need to do in the morning before going to school, and how much time each item will take.If you know your child loves to dawdle, help yourself out by setting the alarm an extra 10 minutes earlier than you think you’ll need. 10 minutes won’t make much of a difference sleep-wise, but it could make a vast difference to your peace of mind.
2. Set your morning up for success with a tried-and-true routine.
Routines and order are vital to the Montessori philosophy, as is creating a space where the child is not rushed. Spend these several weeks determining how much time should be budgeted for a morning routine, and include your child in this process if they are old enough!
If your child is a slow eater, would they prefer to wake up earlier and eat breakfast at home, or would they prefer to eat breakfast on the go? If the latter, talk about how this means that you’ll be transitioning breakfast to (for example) fruit slices and an oat bar rather than eating cereal at the table.
3. Organize your shoes.
There are few things more frustrating than having your child dressed and fed, and then spend ten minutes looking for a matching pair of shoes–or worse, your child unable to find the one particular pair of shoes they desire, even when there are several other perfectly reasonable options available.
Create a designated area (a bin or shelf) for your child’s shoes to be stored and consistently reinforce putting shoes in that area.
4. Eat a balanced breakfast.
It can be so easy over the summer to just grab what’s easiest in the morning, and often that’s cereal, which is often packed full of hidden (or not-so-hidden) sugars.
To help stave off sugar or carb crashes (for your sake and also for the sake of your child’s teacher and classmates!), try to incorporate healthy options like fruit/vegetables, protein, and healthy carbs.
Many healthy breakfasts can be arranged the night before: you can set oatmeal on overnight and top it with fruit in the morning, scramble eggs and veggies and pour onto pre-made pie crust for a quiche ready to pop in the oven, or bake a casserole (with veggies like bell peppers and protein like bacon or eggs and cheese) to easily heat up. You can even make scrambled eggs in advance & if warmed in the oven, they taste just as delicious as if they are fresh!
5. Include your child in the process.
Fostering independence is one of the key tenets of a Montessori education. What can your child take responsibility for? If old enough, they can pack their own lunch; if too young for that, they can still help spread peanut butter on sandwiches and package sliced fruits and veggies. What do they need in their classroom this week? Let them pack their own backpacks.
6. Model organization.
Montessori teachers model every routine or rule they reinforce. If the child is not allowed to raise their voice in the classroom, or must wash their hands after coming in from outdoors, then the Montessori teacher does this too.
Everything the child is expected to do, the teacher models. Organize everything you also need for your own morning routine! Do you like to bring coffee in the car? Have a neatly organized space for your thermos. If you drive your kids to school, have a designated place to store car keys, phone chargers, etc.
7. Create a supportive bedtime routine.
What time does your child need to go to bed in order to get a full night’s sleep before they need to wake up for school?
Sleep needs vary per child by age and individual need–some people need more sleep than others, and children are no exception. If possible, have your child go to bed with a half-hour buffer built in: if your child has difficulty falling asleep, they can still get a full night’s rest; and it’s always better to get a full night’s sleep and even wake up before your alarm!
What’s your back-to-school routine? Let us know in the comments!