There’s a pervasive idea that Montessori on a budget isn’t possible. And I get it - if you're unfamiliar with Montessori philosophy, it's easy to think it’s only for those who are well-off and willing to spend a lot. But today I want to talk to you about how Montessori on a budget is absolutely do-able - and is in fact encouraged.
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What is Montessori?
Before we dive into Montessori on a budget, let’s be clear on what exactly the Montessori Method is. The Montessori method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 1900s when Dr Montessori opened the Casa dei Bambini. Instead of using traditional teaching methods though, Dr. Montessori decided to test her own educational theories in the classroom; these eventually developed into the child-centered educational philosophy now known as the Montessori Method.
Is Montessori for the rich?
While many modern Montessori schools come with a higher price tag, Montessori is and of itself not expensive. In fact, Dr. Montessori opened the Casa dei Bambini as a way to provide education to low-income children in Rome. That’s right - Montessori came to be as a way to help the poor!
That’s one of the reasons why here at Multisori, we’re so passionate about making Montessori accessible and as such, offer scholarships for homeschooling families in need.
Beyond the M3 by Multsori Montessori curriculum, though, we want to provide you with a few ideas to incorporate Montessori in an affordable, effective way.
Use What You Already Have
Of course the first (and arguably easiest) step to Montessori on a budget is to use what you already have. There are plenty of Montessori-inspired toys and pieces of furniture out there that can be quite pricey. The good news is that Montessori education is more about how the child experiences their world than it is about specialized equipment and toys.
For example, chances are good you already have some bookshelves around the house. After making sure they’re properly anchored to the wall, rearrange the lower shelves so that they’re filled with Montessori-aligned toys that your child can access and explore independently.
Place whatever you can at your child's level. Rearrange the fridge, freezer, pantry, drawers, etc., so that your children can easily access the objects designed for them.
Less is More
Montessori isn’t about having exactly the right stuff, it’s about philosophy and education through example. In fact, I’d wager that trying to fill your home with all the “Montessori Must-Haves” is a surefire way to burn out and leave everyone feeling overwhelmed.
If you’re brand new to Montessori and transitioning to a Montessori home, this is a great time to declutter! Figure out which of your Montessori-aligned toys will stay out, which will go into storage, and establish a routine of swapping them out on a regular basis.
Buy Second Hand
When searching for Montessori-aligned items, check your local area through Craigslist, garage sales, or Facebook marketplace - chances are good there might be homeschooling parents whose children have aged out of their items. You can pick them up cheaply, but also remember they aren’t necessary for your child to experience the benefits of Montessori homeschooling.
And if you prefer to buy new, we’ve compiled a list of affordable Montessori furniture that’s sure to suit your budget.
Make Practical Life Skills a Priority
When it comes to Montessori learning, it’s imperative that we focus on the child as a whole. This means making sure that practical life skills are a priority. Practical life activities are essential to a successful Montessori curriculum because this is where most children develop foundational life skills critical for success and happiness.The great thing about this, though, is that life skills are absolutely easy on the budget!
What are practical life activities in Montessori?
Practical life activities in Montessori is purposeful activity that develops coordination, motor control, and focus.
They cover four main areas of development:
- care of environment
- control of movement
- care of self
- Grace and courtesy
These practical life exercises teach children to actively participate in things such as table washing, sweeping the floor, food preparation, and other daily life activities.
So what seems ordinary to us is a world of wonder and excitement for a child. Every day routines – meal prep, washing dishes, getting dressed – while are potentially daunting to a child at first, is also exciting and empowering to master.
In the warmer months, give them an opportunity for some simple gardening, like filling pots with soil and planting seeds.
Let them rake, pull weeds, and practice their pouring skills with a watering can.
Along that same line of thought, don’t forget to make use of the great outdoors! Whether you are well on your way with the Montessori homeschooling journey or are just beginning Montessori with your infant, it's incredibly important to make outdoor time a priority.
Nature walks are an incredible way to learn, plus they're free! Pack 3 or 5 part cards, lightweight mini-books, and activities like scavenger hunts (all included in the M3 by Multisori Montessori Homeschooling Curriculum) and get going! Being outside is a full sensory learning experience and is sure to serve both you and your child well.
So what is a Montessori must-have?
When it comes to Montessori on a budget, the only thing that I consider a must-have is the golden beads. Golden beads are one the few Montessori materials for which no printable can provide a true substitute. This is due to their 3D nature & their weight, neither of which can be replicated on paper.
Also, many of the math activities call for gathering lots of them. For example, to build the number 9,784 the child needs 9 thousand cubes, 7 100 squares, 8 ten bars and 4 units. That’s a lot bigger and more impressive in size when in 3d!
If you are able to afford them, I absolutely suggest this golden bead set.
If you would like to consider a less expensive 3D alternative, this plastic cube set is also a great option.
Sticking to the Basics
Montessori is a way of life, a parenting/educational philosophy that’s meant to foster independence and a love of learning with our children. When it comes down to it, the best way to “be Montessori” is to:
- Follow your child’s interests
- Set appropriate limits as needed
- Be a gentle guide + role model
- Only help when asked or needed
- Support their learning as they figure things out for themselves and explore that which makes them curious
Yes, it’s also great to have Montessori-aligned toys, furniture, etc. but don’t let not having all the “right” stuff stop you from exploring Montessori!
The goal of Montessori is to provide resources to help better educate children. It is not to get you to spend a ton of money. However, there are some excellent items out there that help with this process, so be sure to check out my storefront to explore some of my favorites!