Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Montessori with Siblings

 One of the best gifts that I could have given my eldest, was making him a sibling.


art source: https://urstyle.fashion/styles/3163777

I truly believe that having two siblings close in age, while it could be very toxic in some situations is a gift. 

They always have someone to play with even when we are away visiting family or when they are both sick.

Sometimes, they know how to share. 

And other times I have to remind them that kicking each other in the face is not a good choice.

It depends on the day. 

Well, here I wanted to dive into how Montessori parenting at home is different with siblings. It's harder, but it is a richer journey. The flavors of every day lessons are overarching. 

Harder to Follow the Child

First, it is much harder to pay attention to two kids and their inner world. Each child's motivation can become muddled as they play of off each other's influence. One day the eldest started to like cars more because the youngest started to like cars. One day the youngest started to like plushies because the eldest developed a love for them. Now there is a teddy that gets treated both better and worse than an American Girl doll. 

The Siblings Learn from Each Other

The siblings learn the good and the bad from each other. There will never be a day where one is not teaching the other something. And I hate to say it, but here I am trying really hard to have the eldest not become the "third parent" figure because that really affects their dynamic. 

And a bit of learning from each other is a very big positive outcome from Montessori classrooms with the large age ranges. The kids can learn from different kids. Then, this lesson becomes underscored when they teach what they learned to someone else. 

Most siblings who live with each other know everything about each other and can figure out what other has learned, and where there are gaps. 

Harder to Work with Some Learning Tools

One of the biggest issues that has come up has been figuring out is a tool is just as safe or accessible for a younger sibling, or if that tool should be put away. 

Before the mental load of the pandemic got the best of me, or just being a human, got the best of me, I had enthusiastically got an apple slicer for my preschooler that has yet to be used by that same preschooler all because the youngest should not be trusted. And let's face it, unless we are watching for it, we will not give a tool to a child unless it's a habit. And using it had never developed into a habit. I feel that right this moment, this apple slicer is actually my tool more than the children's.

I could say the same thing for some of the more advanced Montessori knives. I think it will take a long time before I will let my preschooler have a normal butter knife and that is because I don't want it to become a toy of harm during mealtime. 

While leads me to my last and key point...

You Cannot Just End a Lesson or An Activity if You Get No Cooperation

Let's dive into this. In the earlier example, if my child did start playing with a butter knife as if it was a sword, the activity would be over. The meal would be over. All of the food would be placed back in the refrigerator or would have to be thrown away. That would be the end and the child would know the natural consequences. My child would then get a snack later or that same meal or another meal later depending on his hunger level when he is no longer playing with the butter knife. 

Well, that's almost impossible with siblings. It's impossible to do because what is bound to happen is one child might be ready for an activity to be over, while the other child is focused and learning. And then it become even harder for you as the parent to then juggle multiple activities or multiple natural consequences. 

You also don't want to foster toxic sibling relationships and water those seeds of sibling rivalry. They are not learning good things if they are learning that the competition is outward, the expectations are outwards, the motivation is outward. 

You End Up with More Stuff

I remember I celebrated my little basket storage method when my children were not able to go on a home treasure hunt where they open box after box to find a "new" toy that they previously had no interest in. 

Preparing a good space is harder because each child, at different stages of interests and developments will have their own things. 

Sometimes, I simply reuse old tools like glasses, spoons, forks, etc. Sometimes, kids have completely different interests and there is a toddler toolkit added to the mix of toys.




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