Montessori Baby

The author, trained as a Montessori primary teacher (AMI), documents and analyzes her efforts to raise a "Montessori" baby.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Because Montessori education aims to provide for the unique developmental needs of each child as they emerge, Montessori teachers spend a great deal of their time observing children. In my training, my instructors would often demonstrate the link between observation and the provision of lessons. A child who stood by the coat rack touching the different fabrics might be given the fabric boxes or encouraged to work with the sandpaper letters. One little girl who was lining up the bells on their squares might have been interested in a game with the geometry cabinet.

As a Montessori parent, I have been trying to observe changes or developments in Alex's play. Now that we are a couple of weeks past his seven month birthday, quite a few have emerged. Unfortunately, I'm having trouble thinking of ways to better serve these interests. I wonder what teachers do in the Assistance to Infancy classrooms? What about experienced parents?

Lately, Alex is very interested in opening and closing books or turning over objects whose sides are different. I wonder if this relates to object permanence. Is he fascinated by the fact that the inside/other side still exists when he cannot see it?

Alex has also become interested in using pincer grip. We've started on finger foods and I'm working hard to keep carpet pills away from his eager fingers! However, other than food, it seems that there are very few opportunities for him to use this developing skill until he understands that he cannot eat everything small enough to put in his mouth. Puzzles with small knobs might serve this need. Is there anything else?

Alex is also now interested in putting objects into relationship with one another. He will often pick up two things at a time and touch them together. The other day, he worked to set one block on top of another that was sitting on the ground in front of him.

Movement is huge in our house right now. Alex spends much of the day going from sitting, to his stomach, to his back, and over again. He scoots fairly well; we often find ourselves saying, "How in the world did you get over there?" This work is sometimes frustrating for him though. How can we help without getting in the way?

These are the latest needs I'm working to serve. I welcome suggestions that may help me to do so effectively!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Spoon

It's a chilly Sunday morning and Alex and I are the only ones up. He sits happily on the kitchen floor while I measure the coffee and put away dishes. As I prepare my breakfast, I wonder, "Should I offer Alex something?" Deciding yes, I gather his bowl and spoon and mix a little cereal and applesauce.

We sit together at the table and I load up the little Gerber spoon with a decent-sized blob of cereal. It travels toward Alex's mouth and the left hand rises to meet it. "That's fine," I think as he grabs the handle, "we're almost there...if we can just...." But then it happens. Out of nowhere, the right hand swoops in and wraps itself squarely around the bowl of the spoon. Cereal oozes out from between his fingers just inches from his mouth. I utter an audible sigh.

This morning, Alex is not very interested in his cereal. In fact, after one or two unsuccessful bites, I end up rinsing out the bowl into the sink. I'm not sure that this is unfavorable compared to the alternative. When he is interested, the bowl empties, but at least half of it is spread over face, hands, highchair and clothes.

When I am frustrated by these two alternatives, I ask myself what I really want. Do I wish he would just sit there docilly while I shovel spoonful after spoonful into his open, waiting mouth? Though this would certainly be convenient in the moment, I would have no idea how long to keep at it. Would I eventually override the healthy feeding habits that demand breastfeeding has built in that he would eat until I said he was done or eat because it was mealtime instead of eating when he was hungry and stopping when he was full? Furthermore, would I be diminishing his motivation to do what I hope he will do one day soon - feed himself?

In the long run, then, I think I need to stop worrying about mess or waste and just enjoy Alex's spoon adventures knowing that eventually, these will help him to become a healthy, happy and independent eater.