How the Montessori Method Helps Parents With Disabilities
Splash! A kid’s plastic drinking cup falls to the floor, spilling water all over.
“Oh, no!” a toddler exclaims, noticing the accident. She picks up a rag and runs it over the wet spot on the ground. “Wipe,” she says.
This is a common scenario in our house these days now that our baby, Cittie, is a toddler. A month shy of turning 2, she can already do so many things.
Cittie is agile, always running from one place to another or jumping up and down. She can even spring off a tall chair and land safely on the ground with both feet.
Mentally, she keeps up with the milestones for her age and surprises us with so much more. She knows the names of objects, people, and animals around her, and can use them in rudimentary sentences. She also loves to sing — she can pick up the tune of a song she likes the first time she hears it (lyrics, too)!
Yet one of the best things about Cittie is that she’s very independent. During mealtimes, she sits at her little table and feeds herself with a tiny spoon. Afterward, she gets her own plastic cup from the dish cabinet and brings it over to the water dispenser. Since she is still too small to reach the buttons, she asks a grownup to get the water flowing for her.
Cittie also enjoys helping around the house, with the sole exception of when she’s in a bad mood. She likes seeing us cook breakfast and dinner, and enjoys the experience of touching the ingredients and observing their characteristics. Whenever she sees a mess, she brings a rag and attempts to clean it up. She used to do this at our urging, but now she cleans of her own will.
Even before Cittie was born, my husband, Jared, and I had agreed we would teach our child to be independent at an early age. We knew we could not afford to coddle her for too long, given the reality of Jared’s health conditions. Our attention would always be divided between bleeds and seizures and providing for our child’s needs.
To ensure that our child would thrive in our unique family condition, we decided to give her the gift of independence. That way, she could do things by herself and not always need us, except for comfort or emotional support.
We chose the Montessori method of teaching because it is aligned with our main goal of raising a kind, independent, and responsible human being. Like Dr. Maria Montessori, who developed the method, Jared and I believe — and are now seeing firsthand with Cittie — that children are capable of so much and must never be underestimated.
Our informal, Montessori-at-home method isn’t perfect, but we try to nail the essential parts: teaching practical life skills, giving our child freedom without limits, and educating her holistically via real-world experience.
So far, Cittie is turning out to be responsible to the fullest extent that her 2-year-old skill set will allow. She plays and discovers her world with excitement and glee, but seems to know her limits quite well. It’s almost ironic how the words “cautious” and “daredevil” can be used to describe a single pint-sized human being. But that’s what she is.
And that makes us really happy because we know she’s on the right track. She’ll gain confidence in her own skills. As parents and educators who believe in the Montessori method, her dad and I have faith in her. We’re confident she’ll do well, even out in the real world.
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