Back at home, I looked around and realized that setting up the Montessori way was impossible- there was just not enough space in my condo for multiple low-height shelves to store all my kids toys. But I rearranged the toys so that the ones for the babies would be in the lower drawers and therefore more accessible by the babies themselves. I also told the yayas to allow (in fact, encourage) the kids to do things on their own. If Ton (2 years old) wants to sweep the floor, let him be. If Tessa (1 year old) wants to reach for magnets high up in the fridge door, don't reach the magnets for her without letting her try her best first.
Ton sweeping & Tessa playing with fridge magnets
The other day, however, it seemed to work. Montessori teachers do not exercise authoritarian rule to instill discipline. Instead, they give positive options from which children can choose instead of the bad habit. This then develops self-discipline and teaches kids that there is a better choice than the one their urges push them to do. So, one day, there was Gabby, whining again about how she did not like the food.
Gabby: "But I don't like good pancit; i want bad pancit canton (Lucky Me)."
Me: "No, you can't have bad pancit canton again. You already had it this week."
Gabby: "Okay, then I want tofu siomai." (tofu soaked in oyster sauce, wrapped in siomai wrapper then fried)
Me: "No, we will not keep cooking something special for you everytime you don't like the food."
Gabby: (crying-acting voice) "I just want bad pancit canton and tofu siomai."
Me: (sungit voice) "Gabby, ano ba?! Don't be arte!"
Tingining-nginingining (fairy music)....Montessori power!
Me: (calmly as if possessed by Montessori spirit) "Okay, if you want you can look through the fridge for any leftovers that you want but you cannot eat bad pancit canton or tofu siomai."
And they lived happily ever after... she found leftover pizza from the night before.
Of course in reality I know how hard learning this new skill will be. Ever since I started working, when I get home I just want to plop on the bed and rest. The last thing I want is an argument with Gabby or a yaya training seminar on the Montessori method. But I want to try this. I want to see if it will help my children help themselves. Maria Montessori believed in the child's potential and their innate intelligence. Now I know how I, and the yayas, have been stripping my kids of the chance to develop into the "complete" individuals they were meant to be.
So as I try to be a true Montessori parent, I realize that I am merely learning a new skill and (with true Montessori spirit) embrace it with excitement. Soon enough I hope to excel in this new talent that I call.... MONTESSORI POWER!!!