Disruption to routine is hard for anyone, but especially for Montessori families. However, life is full of disruptions. Whether you need to move houses, are planning a vacation, or are traveling for the holidays, sometimes, you have to leave behind your gorgeous Montessori space. How can you offer stability if you don’t have your beautiful shelves and materials to set out?
These changes in routine are not only hard because you must adjust to a new space, but it can be emotionally difficult for children. Their moods, emotions, and behavior might be big and difficult as they respond to the changes.
However, it is possible to offer your child some stability and to continue with your Montessori lifestyle, even with limited resources, when you’re away from home. In fact, we are in the midst of following our Montessori lifestyle away from home right now.
As you may have seen on my recent social media posts, we just relocated to Japan due to a job opportunity. Poor Yannis watched as his favorite toys were packed up one by one until nearly all of them were gone. We left everything that was familiar to him and flew across the world to start our new life. As you can imagine, this was stressful for all of us. To make the transition easier for him, I decided to do my best to provide a tiny Montessori space for him. Here’s how we managed this period of change. You can use these ideas for your vacations, holiday travels, and moves too!
Surviving Transition the Montessori Way
Prepare for Travel
To prepare for our twelve-hour plane ride from California to Japan, I packed all the essentials items to keep Yannis, who is 20-months-old entertained. I made sure to take along lots of books. Some of them matched the travel theme, while others are just favorites of his. I also brought along some of his favorite realistic action figures, his listening phone which is great for talking and listening quietly, and other special items.
Create a Space
Once we arrived at the hotel, I made it child-friendly for him with some of his items. I used the bench in the hotel room to set up a small space. I included stacking boxes, lots of books, a musical instrument, and other items of interest. This way, there is a designated space in the environment for him to spend time. Even if you have a tiny hotel room or Airbnb, you can find a corner on the floor to keep neat and organized with a few of your child’s items. As you can see, it doesn’t have to include a lot of items. Less is more. Having a small space with a few items is all your child needs to ground themselves and have a productive space to work.
Seasonal and Cultural Activities
In addition to providing a space for Yannis to be in our hotel room, we’ve been busy out in the community. For example, we have done seasonal activities like digging sweet potatoes and picking oranges. These are great practical life activities that also allow Yannis to absorb local customs. In addition, we often visit a nearby park where Yannis can get exercise, work on his gross motor skills, and meet friends. Check out Hike it baby in your Area for child appropriate hiking trips and activities.
Involve the Child with Practical Life
When you don’t have a lot of materials or space, you can go big on practical life! Practice those hand-washing skills. Encourage your child to peel and eat their own orange. Involve the child it cleaning and tidying up. Have them help you plan your day, find places on maps, and insert the card into the subway machine.
When you’re away from home, you have a new opportunity to follow your child. Notice what catches your child’s attention. Try new foods, explore, and immerse yourselves in the city or place you are. Here in Japan, Yannis loves traveling by bus and train. So, we try to do that whenever possible. It’s not always easy to continue your Montessori routines and practices when you’re on the road. But, it’s not impossible. With the above tips, you can help maintain stability for your child and embrace the Montessori philosophy even when you’re away from home.