“The Terrible Twos” is a phrase that we hear all the time. Before our sweet babies have outgrown their newborn outfits, we are already hearing about how challenging the toddler years are going to be. While infancy is described as a wondrous and miraculous time, we are prepped to expect the toddler years to be wild and chaotic.
Every day we are bombarded by chats, podcasts, social media posts, and articles that tell us how vital the toddler years are for growth and development. Magazines and online articles provide us with lists of all the educational toys and devices we “have” to purchase to make sure that our little ones can get ahead of their peers. Our homes and our friends’ homes fill with children’s toys and activities. Even our devices are peppered with apps and games touted as educational. We learn to ignore the chaos and the mess. We figure that this is how it needs to be as our toddlers learn and grow.
Are toddlers really that “terrible” and does this life stage need to be so chaotic? In her book, The Montessori toddler: A parent’s guide to raising a curious and responsible human being, Simone Davies provides us with an alternative. Using the principles of educator Maria Montessori, Simone Davies demonstrates how life with a toddler can be a mutually rewarding time, filled with curiosity, discovery, learning, and respect.
By describing and reframing the behavior of toddlers, The Montessori toddler provides a fresh perspective that turns the mainstream view of these young children on its head. Toddlers are experiencing their world in a unique way and as parents, it is our task to facilitate that exploration. The book explains that toddlers are not difficult; instead, they are present, capable, and authentic.
Toddlers have specific needs, among which are the need to see themselves as separate from their parents, the need to move and explore, and the freedom to grow. Equally, they need consistent limits, order, and routine to keep them feeling safe and secure. Davies explains that rather than the battle of wills we perceive, toddlers are learning and gaining mastery over themselves and their environment.
What is The Montessori toddler about?
In this beautifully laid out book, illustrated by Hiyoko Imai, parents are led through the process of setting up the home using Montessori principles and providing Montessori style activities that are educational and age appropriate without being overwhelming.
What will I learn from The Montessori toddler?
With this approach, less is more. Montessori toys are based on the development of the whole child and usually target one skill. Laid out at the child’s height and ready for use, Montessori type toys and activities are complete with no pieces missing. Toys are made of natural materials and homemade toys that follow Montessori principles are encouraged. A list of appropriate Montessori games and toys are suggested.
The Montessori home environment is uncluttered and the book provides sensible advice on decluttering and identifying what toys and activities will be available. There is a strong emphasis on including toddlers in household activities and ensuring that all items toddlers use are the correct size, and easily accessible (from mini brooms and place settings, to shoes and clothing).
Simone Davies encourages us to view our homes from the perspective of the child and guides parents in creating safe and engaging spaces that aid their children’s independence. While the book provides a guide for ensuring that all rooms in the home provide properly sized and placed items for toddlers, we see how the toddler bedroom can be designed in a way that is completely childproof and totally accessible for the toddler, including a toddler bed or floor mattress.
The Montessori Toddler emphasizes the importance of nurturing independence. It contains chapters that guide parents in the implementation of Montessori methods and practices, discusses dealing with changes, and outlines the Montessori methods used to teach life skills. Throughout the book, we are reminded that our task is to be our child’s guide and to scaffold (or support) them as they learn to master the skills that they need. In the final chapters, the book discusses how the behavior we grown-ups model affects our children and how we can incorporate our way of living beyond our home.
What did I learn from The Montessori toddler?
Reading The Montessori toddler really changed my view on the way toddlers experience the world. Seeing the world developmentally and emotionally from a toddler perspective provided me with a sense of amazement at how frustrating yet how vital this period of childhood development is.
Who is this book for?
I highly recommend The Montessori toddler to all moms-to-be and families with babies and toddlers. Even if you do not think that a Montessori style home is right for you, this book will provide you with wonderful insight on the development of the toddler and the benefits of a pared down, simpler, and more cooperative way of parenting.