Doing Montessori at Home with Your 12-month-old Child

As parents, educators, or caregivers, we are privileged to witness the incredible growth and development of twelve-month-old infants. This crucial period in a child’s life is characterized by rapid cognitive, physical, and emotional milestones. By embracing the principles of the Montessori philosophy, we can create an environment that supports and enhances their maximum potential, fostering independence, curiosity, and a deep love for learning.

Doing-Montessori-At-Home-With-12-Months-Old-Montessori-Nature activities
  1. Sensitive Periods and Individualized Learning:

At twelve months, children experience numerous sensitive periods, particular windows of opportunity during which they are innately curious and eager to explore specific aspects of their environment. Montessori education recognizes and capitalizes on these sensitive periods, helping children to fulfill their natural tendencies and absorb knowledge effortlessly. By observing and understanding these periods, Montessori-trained caregivers can provide the appropriate materials and experiences that match the child’s developmental needs.

  1. Promoting Independence:
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Montessori principles emphasize the importance of fostering independence in young children. At twelve months, infants are beginning to develop their motor skills, allowing them to explore their surroundings actively. By creating a carefully prepared environment that offers age-appropriate materials and opportunities for sensory exploration, we empower children to exercise their newfound skills and embrace their growing independence. Simple activities, like allowing them to dress themselves or choose their own toys, further nurture their autonomy and self-confidence.

  1. Sensory Stimulation and Language Development:

The ability to learn through their senses is particularly pronounced at twelve months. Montessori education recognizes the significance of sensory stimulation and provides numerous activities and materials that engage the child’s senses. From colorful tactile objects to musical instruments and texture-rich surfaces, the environment presents endless opportunities for sensory exploration. Montessori educators also emphasize language development, using speech repetition and storytelling to enhance vocabulary acquisition and encourage early communication skills.

  1. Freedom within Limits:

Montessori classrooms and parenting approaches advocate for providing children with freedom within well-defined limits. At twelve months, children are ever-curious and eager to explore the world around them. By setting simple ground rules and creating an environment that promotes learning while ensuring safety, we can allow children to follow their intrinsic desire for discovery without undue inhibition. This approach nurtures decision-making skills, problem-solving abilities, and a sense of responsibility, all of which contribute to their holistic development.

  1. Nurturing a Love for Learning:

One of the most significant advantages of Montessori education is its ability to instill a lifelong love for learning from an early age. By cultivating an environment that encourages curiosity, independent exploration, and a sense of accomplishment, we plant the seeds for a passion for knowledge that will grow as the child progresses. Montessori principles focus on intrinsic motivation, allowing children to set their own pace and delve deeper into areas of interest, fostering a genuine love and excitement for learning.

Twelve-month-old children possess extraordinary potential, and Montessori principles provide a framework that fosters their maximum growth and development. By embracing individualized learning, promoting independence, facilitating sensory exploration, offering freedom within limits, and nurturing a love for learning, we can create a magical environment that enables children to thrive. Let us unlock the remarkable capabilities of these twelve-month-old individuals, empowering them to embark on a lifelong path of discovery and fulfillment.

Montessori At Home with a 12-Month-Old Child – Where to Start?

With a deep breath and a positive attitude. It’s way easier than you think. I would like to share with you my own experience and what I believe is crucial for a child at this age.

First of all, allow the child to move freely. Set up your space with as minimum restrictions on the place as possible. Make it safe and accessible for your little person.

Set up a couple of baskets in different parts of your home with objects for the child to discover, touch, smell, and taste. Baskets should be easy to access and reach. All items should be natural for a baby to grasp. I would like to suggest a couple of examples:

  • Everyday items (hairbrush, mirror, etc)
  • Wooden items
  • Replica animals
  • Play fruit and vegetables
  • Items defined by color
  • Balls with various textures
  • Rattles
  • Musical instruments
Doing-Montessori-At-Home-With-12-Months-Old-Montessori-Nature activities
Doing-Montessori-At-Home-With-12-Months-Old-Montessori-Nature activities

Visit this post to get ideas for preparing learning activities for your child.

Living Montessori Now has a great post that will inspire you to create your treasure baskets for your child.

It is considered best to avoid electronic, and plastic toys. Instead, you can replace them with toys made out of natural materials. Twelve months is a perfect time to introduce a walker. Here are some toys that you may find in many homes where people implement the Montessori method.

Walker Wagon

Toy Animals

Sensory Blocks and Balls.

Montessori Object Performance Box

Musical Instruments

Etsy has a gorgeous selection of handmade materials. I love buying toys from there for my baby because I know they are made with natural materials, are 100% safe for the baby to take in her mouth, and have no toxic paints.

Montessori Baby and Toddler Set 

There are many advocates of baby sensory play and art out there. I greatly support it. However, I prefer to stay away from food coloring, unless it’s 100% natural. When necessary, I make my own with natural ingredients, like beetroot juice and turmeric.

Babies benefit greatly from spending time outside in nature. National parks, botanical gardens, beaches, bush, and forests are the perfect playground and learning environment for them. When possible allow them to walk bare feet, play in the dirt, dig in the mud, crawl, climb, and feel the sand through their fingers and with their little toes. I admire this quote from Maria Montessori:

“Let the children free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning.” Dr. Maria Montessori

Talk with your child a lot. Try to listen to what they have to say. They have multiple languages to express themselves using words, gestures, and facial expressions. It’s important to be tuned to them all. At this age, children love books and pictures with large, realistic photos and illustrations. Oh and please, avoid screen time until the age of 2.
You may like to check out my post 5 Montessori Inspired Ways to Support Early Literacy at Home.

When eating  – allow them to use their fingers.  It is going to be messy but so good for their fine motor, hand-eye coordination and great for learning about different textures and temperatures.

At this age, you can start teaching them simple, practical life lessons and help them to take care of themselves. For example:

– Introduce a small cup for drinking. Small shot glasses are perfect for their little hands to grasp. Start with a minimal amount of water and gradually add more.

– Offer to wipe their table with a small cloth after a meal. Demonstrate first. Please, keep in mind that these are all life experiences that will take some time to perfect. Allow your child time and save yourself from getting frustrated if things don’t work out right away.

– Many families set up a first table and chair for the child to sit independently when having meals or for play. I found it to be too early for our daughter. We waited until she was 1.5 to introduce her to the toddler table and chair when having meals.

– A kitchen is a perfect place for discoveries. Before cutting their fruit or vegetable offer the child to touch, feel, and smell it. It’s a pleasant experience that will activate a child’s senses and an excellent learning opportunity. It is always exciting for the child to be involved in simple home tasks.

For example, here is my sweet pie helping to make scented water with cloves, rosemary and lemons, and later helped me to fill in the bowl with lemons.

Doing-Montessori-At-Home-With-12-Months-Old-Montessori-Nature activities

Every child is different and develops at their own pace. Observing and being attentive to their preferences and interests can make a perfect foundation for building upon and introducing new and challenging experiences, yet within their reach.
I hope you found this post helpful.

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About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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