Spring Equinox 2019: Minimizing & A Happy, Screen-Free Montessori Home

“Adopt the pace of nature.  Her secret is patience.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

(Updated 2021:  Be sure to check out more of our favorite books, sorted by category, over at our shop.)

Happy Spring!  Just as this joyous season symbolizes new beginnings, we have made a few changes in our home as we prepare to welcome our third bundle of joy here in a few weeks.  

In addition to revisiting our cleaning/minimalism routines we have discussed previously, we have carved out a cozy Montessori newborn area for our baby girl.  We are so excited to welcome her into our family.  I can share more about her space in a future post, although that’s a bit on the periphery of our usual homeschooling content.

Another new beginning for us is the kickoff of our screen-free home.  While we have always been cognizant of the importance of limiting screen-time for our children, we have decided to remove screens from the environment altogether.  

Our preschooler has always been largely removed from the consumerism, gaming, and other content associated with screens.  She doesn’t know characters or understand brands.  She has a couple movies and a couple educational programs she is familiar with and we’ve never been concerned.  As soon as she began asking to watch those selections, we knew it was the right time for us to make a change.  

It is very well studied and documented some of the dangers of technology and why it is not recommended by the AAP for young children.  These dangers include but are not limited to attention disorders, hyperactivity, emotional instability, and violence.  A lot of this is due to how screens affect the visual processing system and the vestibular system of the brain, and how the child’s brain is forced to downshift from that stimuli when the screens are removed.  

One of the first things I learned as a Montessori parent and educator was about the importance of the prepared environment.  When children are experiencing periods of disequilibrium, or unsettled behavior, people often look to the child when they should instead be looking at the child’s environment.  I’ve heard several experienced Montessori primary educators say that they can most often pinpoint which children in their classrooms watch screens at home, without being given that information.  

As our children mature in their understanding of themselves and their environment, we want to make sure we are cultivating spaces where the visual reminder of technology is not a distraction to anyone in our family.  We don’t want there to be any obstacles to our children being able to engage in deep self-directed play with their materials and we, as parents, don’t want our focus to shift unintentionally.

So far, we have noticed that removing the screens has been a positive experience for our family.  Our children are able to engage in long periods of slow, meaningful play with smooth transitions between.  Our preschooler has noted that the television is gone, but hasn’t complained, seemed upset, or made any requests for the programs she was allowed to watch on a limited basis prior to these changes.  We’re glad we were able to make such an easy adjustment now, as opposed to when our children are older, and may be more resistant to such changes.  

For now, we are enjoying some spring-themed work and weather to accompany a lovely new season.  

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