The Nugget is attending a Montessori school, and I'm very thankful for the experience. I am learning so much, and while it's not the right fit for every family or every child, it feels really great for the Nugget, right now. Even as a toddler, he had a very strong desire not to be "bossed around" but would happily cooperate and help if he felt like he was part of a team, and I believe Montessori really speaks to that. I wanted to share some Montessori-style parenting we have adopted for our home.
1. Contracts - When I worked at Extended Day, I noticed the art room had a written contract with the expectations for the room, and each child had signed his or her name on it. It was posted prominently by the door. The Nugget and I brainstormed about what the rules and consequences should be, made a contract of outdoor rules and one about screentime rules, had the Nugget, Daddy, and myself sign them, then posted them in the mudroom and right by the TV. When an issue arises, I gently refer to the contract, and I am no longer the bad guy!
2. Check-out System - When the students arrive at school, they must give the administrator/guide who is greeting them a firm handshake, eye contact, and a hello. They do the same when they leave school. It helps the school keep track of them while also reinforcing valuable communication skills. We were having trouble with the Nugget slipping off to ride his bike without letting us know, so this summer, we are having him check out with a handshake before leaving the yard/house.
3. Visual Aids - I actually started these way back in preschool, but they are very Montessori. The Nugget is a visual learner, so it helps him to have checklists or pictures to remind him what to do. When we find a situation that is repeatedly difficult for him, I break down the proper procedure into 3 steps, doodle a little representation for each step, laminate the cards, hole punch them, and clip them to whatever will be handiest. For social conflict at school for example, the cards are clipped to the hem of his shirt and read:
Stop! (with a stop sign)
Talk and Listen (with cartoon word bubbles)
Get help (with smiling teachers)
4. We are trying to enact family meetings with just the 3 of us for now. We start with affirmations for each other, then talk about our goals, our problems, and brainstorm solutions. The first one was a little boring I think, next time I will provide fun snacks!