As we have seen, Montessori education offers significant advantages for children to develop skills that benefit them in their daily lives. However, this teaching method goes beyond problem-solving and everyday situations. Montessori principles can also be applied to make games more dynamic and add a unique touch to special events, such as birthdays.
In this guide, we will show you how to prepare a Montessori-inspired birthday party for your little ones at home. The objective is to help children easily and practically understand the passage of time and its impact on their lives, particularly as they grow older. At Central Montessori School (CMS), we offer various programs designed to help children integrate into society with skills that promote success in all aspects of life.
What is a Montessori Birthday?
Traditionally, birthdays are celebrated in similar ways across different countries. Activities may vary based on religious or cultural customs within each family. However, a Montessori birthday is considered a special ritual or ceremony that encompasses the concept of time and the passing of years.
This practice gained popularity in 2018 with the release of the book “Montessori for Dummies” by French pedagogues Noemi and Sylvie d’Esclaibes. The authors explain that a Montessori birthday helps children understand their role within the family and remember the significant moments of their past year. Even though one-year-old children may not fully comprehend the world around them, this celebration can still be meaningful to introduce them to the concept of time.
Let’s Get Started!
To begin the party, it’s important to create an intimate atmosphere for parents and children. We recommend conducting this ceremony with close family members in a safe and familiar space, such as the child’s play area, bedroom, or living room. If your child attends a Montessori school and you wish to celebrate their birthday in this manner, it would be ideal for their classmates to understand the significance before participating.
Safety of the children is paramount. For a Montessori birthday celebration, you will need a round or square mat and a candle placed in the center. It’s crucial to explain to the children that fire can be dangerous if not handled carefully. This emphasizes the importance of fire safety. The candle symbolizes the sun. Next, arrange 12 photos representing each stage of your child’s life during the year they are turning, ideally with one representative photo from each month. Additionally, display the number of years the celebrant is turning at the center of the mat or beside the candle.
During the ceremony, a globe should be handed to the child, which they will hold throughout the process. With all the elements in place, the child should slowly walk around the mat, holding the globe in their hands. Meanwhile, parents can sing or recount significant events that occurred during the past year, represented by the photos. At the end of the walk, everyone present can applaud or give the child a pat on the back. This gesture symbolizes the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, which takes one year. The child should complete one full circle for each year they are celebrating.
If you wish to include a song, Montessori educators have created a simple chant for the celebration. Just add the name of the celebrant and repeat the song for the number of years they are turning:
“The Earth goes ’round the sun, ’round the sun. The Earth goes ’round the sun, and [child’s name] turns [number of years].”
Upon completion of the ceremony, parents and the child can remove all the elements and proceed with the traditional celebration, including cake and games.
The Importance of Symbols
Montessori educators recommend conducting this ceremony once a year to make the child feel special and help them remember their accomplishments and even the obstacles they faced throughout the year. Therefore, it is suggested to start this tradition from the child’s first year, even before they start walking.
It is also important to involve the child in their own celebration. For example, you can ask them to help choose their favorite photos, or if they are old enough, they can take their own pictures using child-friendly cameras throughout the year. This way, you can gain insight into your child’s perspective of the world based on their age. If the child has siblings and they want to participate in the birthday ritual, explain to them that on this occasion, their sibling is the one turning a year older, and they can assist, but they are not the main focus of the celebration.
Remember, the Montessori method proposes that children learn skills at their own pace, using tools appropriate to their abilities and age. At CMS, we provide a dedicated section on our blog where you can find articles that will help you implement this approach in your home for the first time. Additionally, our music, science, and Spanish classes allow students to continue expanding their knowledge in a dynamic and enjoyable way.
In conclusion, celebrating a Montessori-style birthday offers a unique and meaningful way for children to understand the passage of time and their growth throughout the year. By incorporating symbols and rituals, children can feel special and reflect on their achievements and challenges. The involvement of the child in their own celebration fosters a sense of ownership and engagement, allowing them to actively participate in the event.
The Montessori method emphasizes individualized learning at a child’s own pace, utilizing tools and activities that align with their developmental stage. By implementing Montessori principles in birthday celebrations, we not only create memorable experiences but also reinforce important concepts such as the Earth’s orbit around the Sun and the significance of milestones in a child’s life.
At Central Montessori School (CMS), we are dedicated to supporting parents in implementing Montessori teachings at home. Our blog provides valuable resources and articles to guide you through this process. Additionally, our diverse range of classes, including music, science, and Spanish, further enrich children’s learning experiences in a dynamic and enjoyable manner.
By embracing Montessori principles during birthday celebrations, we create meaningful connections and promote holistic development in our children. Let us continue to nurture their growth, curiosity, and love for learning, ensuring their success in all aspects of life.