Montessori on a budget: Is it really possible?
What images does the word “Montessori” conjure up in your mind? If you are like most people, you probably associate it with costly customized equipment and a lot of work. Add that to the now-widespread belief that Montessori is a preserve of the rich and you have something that seems ridiculously out of reach for a lot of people.
When you really think about it, though, none of this makes any sense. When you distill the Montessori method down to its basic principles, money has very little to do with it. There are DIY options that work great in classroom settings, and when it comes to incorporating Montessori activities at home, a lot can be done with an even smaller budget.
If you have been looking for a simple answer to the titular question, then yes, it is possible to Montessori on a budget. But how can you do it? Well, this article will cover everything you need to know. Here is how you can introduce Montessori at home on a budget.
Tips for introducing Montessori on a budget
If you want to introduce Montessori activities in your home, these quick tips will help you save a pretty penny in the long term:
- Don’t put too much focus on the materials
One of the first steps of working with your child to create a Montessori inspired home is preparing the environment, and this involves gathering a few materials.
Now, it is true that the educational materials in expensive Montessori schools look great and last long. However, these are meant to serve several classes of kids over several years. That’s why they are made of metal or wood.
If you simply want to implement Montessori in your home, substituting these things with cheaper alternatives or repurposed household items can make everything surprisingly cheap. Instead of wooden or metal trays, you can use woven or cloth baskets and old food containers or reused shoeboxes. Alphabet letters can be made from foam, felt, or cardboard. Almost any Montessori toy or equipment has a cheaper alternative to it; you just have to think a little.
Of course, most of these items that are unlikely to last for long with frequent use. However, since you’ll only be using them at home, you don't need them to.
- Stick to practical life activities
Practical life activities are an important part of the Montessori method. In practical life, you have to look around your child’s environment and find ways they can be involved and encouraged to participate.
What are some Montessori-inspired practical life activities that are perfect for a small budget? Well, all of them, actually! Here are a few of them:
- Hand washing
- Care for self – hair brushing, nose-blowing, and tooth brushing
- Getting dressed and undressed
- Helping with laundry
- Watering the plants
- Sweeping and mopping
- Helping to prepare meals
You won't need much for these activities – a mirror that your child can hold up to see themselves as they brush their hair, a broom that fits their hand and is comfortable to use, and a step stool that they can stand on as they wash their hands or brush their teeth would be enough to get started. Most of these things are household items that you already own and regularly use and you only need to make minor modifications to make them suitable for your little one’s size and comfort.
- Utilize the resources available in your community
Your child does not need to own something to benefit from it. While that may sound obvious, a lot of parents seldom seek out the free resources that are available to their children.
A great place to start is a lending library, where you can get many of the items and information that you need for your Montessori home. Your local community may also organize handmade toy swaps, toy libraries, and co-ops, and even if these aren’t an option, you can simply join forces with friends and family and organize one yourself.
If you can knit or crochet, or if you have some experience in painting or woodwork, you have even more options. If you do not have any of these skills, don't hesitate to ask among your family and friends for help when you need such things done.
There are also a lot of free online resources that you can take advantage of. You’ll be able to find suggestions, inspirations, tutorials, and guidelines for many resources that your child might need for Montessori activities.
- Incorporate nature in your Montessori activities
Use nature to your advantage – it's free, after all! Take your little one outside and explore parks, nature reserves, forests, playgrounds, and other public spaces. Doing this once in a while can enrich your child’s experiences by giving them way more than any expensive Montessori-inspired item could.
The outdoors present opportunities like swinging on monkey bars, jumping in puddles, collecting leaves for a scrapbook, making footprints in the sand or mud, exploring the woods for unique seeds and leaves, bird watching, digging for bugs and earthworms, and so on, that will help your child learn the Montessori way for free.
- Look for a bargain
Once you choose to implement Montessori elements in your home, you’ll start making some interesting discoveries in the most unexpected places. Go to second-hand and thrift stores as these are often packed full of items like wooden toys and baskets.
You can also look in chain stores, dollar shops, and discount stores from time to time. You never know what you'll find – ice cube trays that your little one can use to sort pebbles, sugar tongs for strengthening the hand muscles, a bubble machine for bath time play, and so much more!
- Ensure you have adequate storage
It is important to have a clutter-free space if you intend to create a Montessori environment for your child. A neat and tidy home will allow your little one to be more relaxed and subsequently more willing to try new things. Therefore, the Montessori method is not about having about a large number of items to keep your child occupied, but rather about a few quality items that are used frequently.
These essential items can be rotated depending on how they are used and stored away when not needed. This way, your child will see these things with fresh eyes, and you will maintain their interest in these toys for a long time
- Consider DIY
Why not get creative and make some Montessori-inspired items for your little one? Here are some ideas to begin with:
- Use some of the ingredients in your kitchen such as baking soda and vinegar for simple science experiments.
- Teach threading using pasta and straw pieces
- Paint an old shoebox or old food container to convert it into storage space for Montessori items
- Make a posting box by cutting a hole in a plastic container
As you can see, it’s all about getting creative and trying to figure out how you can repurpose every day things to make them more interesting to your child.
- Come up with a wish list
Sometimes, it can be rather frustrating to receive unwanted gifts of things you do not need from oblivious friends and relatives when you are on a budget. Why not compile a list of gift suggestions for your inner circle to give them a better idea of what you need?
For example, you can let your family and friends know that you are collecting pencils, books, or toys, and ask them if they would like to add to it.
Don’t focus too much on the aesthetics when trying to introduce Montessori in your home – after all, when it comes to Montessori, beauty lies within. At its core, the Montessori method is not about gorgeous toys and stunning décor. It is about creating a meaningful connection with your little one, as well as helping them have hands-on experiences with efficiently designed tools. So, no matter the size of your budget, it really is possible to have the Montessori way of life!