One of the most frequent questions I get is how to help grandparents/nannies/caregivers better understand or follow Montessori with their children. It is tough to answer, because it really depends on the person, and the situation. I have also been lucky to have both parents and in-laws who have read my blog since day 1 and take what I write and say to heart. I know many of you reading this haven’t had the same experience, so this is for you!
In defense of grandparents and experienced nannies, it can be tough for them to parent differently. They probably did a wonderful job raising their own kids (including you) and don’t see the need to grandparent differently. They also love your babies almost as much as you. That being said, grandparents need to also respect your own parenting style and wishes for your own children. How you raise your children, and with what values, is ultimately you and your spouse’s decision only.
It’s also worth deciding what Montessori principles really matter to you, and how much time grandparents or caregivers spend with your child. As we only have occasional sitters, I don’t really worry about whether or not those babysitters know anything about Montessori. A few hours of “good jobs” and doing everything for my children isn’t going to hurt anyone. The important thing is that they are responsible, fun, and loving. Even a weekend with grandparents who don’t “do Montessori” won’t mess up what you have going on at home. However, if someone else were watching my child a few days a week, their caregiving style would matter a lot more to me, and I’d want them to understand a bit more about Montessori philosophy.
I created these “cheat sheets” as one place to introduce Montessori to grandparents, nannies, or caregivers who aren’t quite on the same page as you yet. While these cheat sheets are far from a complete guide, I hope they can open up a conversation about how you are trying to parent differently. If they are open to it, I recommend having them read some blog articles or even The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies. I also highly recommend this short video about infant/toddler Montessori programs and this other video about the Montessori philosophy in general.
There are likely certain principles or issues you care more about, so focus on those with your parents or nannies. Maybe that’s screen time, maybe it’s letting your infant learn to walk on their own, or maybe it’s the kind of words they use. Whatever it is, let some of the other things go, because we all need a little time and patience to learn, and teach, something new.
Lastly, the other common question I get is in regard to gifts from family and friends. I recommend making lists ahead of holidays. They don’t need to be super specific, but you could give some examples of the types of toys you are looking for. Other options are books and clothes. Another way to dodge noisy, light-up toys is to ask for money towards their college fund or a membership to your local children’s museum or zoo. If you do receive a gift that you don’t love, you can always pass it on, or do what I do, and keep it in the car or for “emergencies”. ;)