Since Prince George was sent to a Montessori nursery in the UK there has been a surge of interest in the kind of educational approach his parents have chosen.
The Montessori approach, developed in the early 20th century by Italian educator Maria Montessori, focuses on helping children develop their independence. It sees education as an ‘aid to life’ and encourages educators to respond to a child’s natural curiosity and desire to learn.
Now, thanks to a clever blogger, you can try it out in your own home.
Blogger and Montessori fan Kylie D’Alton says it’s about “raising independent empowered and capable children who are really aware of the world around them”.
“So they are respectful of others and also are respectful of the planet and our environment,” says D’Alton.
The Brisbane mother has a website that shows how she incorporates the Montessori approach in her home.
Her blog demonstrates years of tested ideas and inspiration with her sons, Otis, 5, and Casper, 8.
Otis observes a starfish. Image courtesy Kylie D'Alton/How We Montessori
The Montessori way has become "completely normal" for the brothers who are Montessori schooled and immersed in the philosophy at home.
"When I had kids I had no idea. I thought it would come naturally and then I worked out I didn’t know much about parenting. I didn’t know what to do with him," said D'Alton.
At a loss, the new mother researched early Montessori teachings which helped shape her "thriving, happy and capable" children.
She says the approach is about getting the kids involved.
"In the home environment independence is really a big thing so from a really young age we try to really empower the kids by showing them what they are capable of," she said.
Otis helps out in the kitchen. Image courtesy Kylie D'Alton/How We Montessori
"Making sure they can put on their own shoes they can reach their own clothes and get dressed. Once the kids realise they can do this, it makes life so much easier as a parent and they can feel really proud of what they can do."
Her website reads as an online family diary of development with ideas and signposts according to age.
"When I started blogging I tried to intentionally tried show people what we were doing rather than how it should be done," she said.
The kind of practical activities for an 18-month-old include peeling banana slices, loading the washing machine, putting things away, stickers, threading, playing in the sink and learning to pour.
"A toddler can start to put their arms up to put a shirt on or can start to wear shoes with Velcro straps rather than laces so they can put them on. They can start to help in the kitchen even if they’re just standing next to you and washing dishes," she said.
Otis demonstrates some of the ideas. Image courtesy Kylie D'Alton/How We Montessori
"Pre-schoolers can do more – they can start chopping and peeling – if you are making a salad they can spend 15 minutes peeling a carrot while you get the rest of the work done. It’s just trying to get them as involved as possible in the home, start early but as they get older they can do more."
The mother of all things Montessori says she admits to being a “little bit crazy”.
“I don’t expect anyone to take it on 100%.”
“I think if everyone could do a little bit of Montessori in the home the kids are just going to be so much more capable and families and relationships are just going to work so much better.”
For more from Kylie D'Alton, check out her site.