I relatively recently discovered Montessori through some reading. I wish I would have known about her and her influence before I had Connor...that's to say I should have been reading more about raising children while I was pregnant instead of reading about the actual baby growing in my belly. The best I can do now is to try to make up some ground. So if you know some great resources, I'm certainly open to expanding our library and such.
We were already practicing many Montessori methods, to my surprise, but just weren't aware it was a method of raising a child. The primary of which is attachment parenting. It also lead me to uncover the world of "unschooling," an expansion, of sorts, to home schooling.
Another principle of Montessori and attachment parenting is showing respect for your young child as a valued and recognized member of your family. With that in mind, here are a few things we practice or have in our home specifically for Connor:
Things in each room for him, down at his level. This includes allowing him access to all the lower kitchen cabinets, drawers and the refrigerator.
His own table and chairs, his size, of which I eat at with him. He has a place mat I picked up from etsy that has a pattern on it for his plate, cup and utensils. I think it's so cute that he actually puts the right things in the correct place. His silverware is smaller, too, of course.
He also has a shelf in the pantry for his snacks, so he can get to them anytime he's a little hungry outside of breakfast, lunch and dinner. That shelf also has two trays, one has water colors and supplies, and the other has finger paints, regular (non-toxic) paint, paper, paint brush, and a block crayon.
In the living room he has a toy shelf. We got rid of the toy box when I read it can be overwhelming for them to decide from and see things in, which made sense to me when I stepped back and looked at it. So, we keep about a dozen toys on the shelf, making sure it doesn't look jammed full, and I rotate them out with his other toys every few weeks or at least at a month.
We got him a fish tank and fish so he has something to nurture and take care of. He feeds them twice a day. The tank is small and low so he can see and feed the fish himself.
In the downstairs closet I have a three-drawer bin for his clothes. His jackets and shoes are accessible nearby. He can choose his clothes and even dress himself (kind of).
He has help-around-the-house toys like a snow shovel, vacuum, and broom set so he can develop the skills to clean and help me. :) It's important to me to keep the house tidy and clean, so he learns from me to show his things respect. How he treats his things will, in turn, be how he learns to treat people in the long run.
Anytime I am in the kitchen, I welcome him to join and help me if he likes. Often it means a bigger mess, but it's worth it to me to have him see what I'm doing, and to help. I believe cooking and baking (from scratch) for your family are vital to their health and development. It also shows them that you care enough to take the time (a lot of time) to shop, think, make, and clean up for them. I believe it is, unfortunately, a fleeting practice in our society. The care you put into the food that goes into your family's body is second to nearly nothing, outside of shelter, affection, and stability. For me, it is an extension of the care I provided them through nursing (Connor nursed for 16 months and Avery is, of course, at almost 2 months, still nursing).
We also have a family bed. Yes, we ALL four sleep in on big ol' bed. No box spring, it sits right on the floor to avoid any fall. The bedroom is for sleeping. So the only thing in there is the bed, a rocker, diaper changing things, and an air filter/fan. We have blackout curtains as well. This may sound strange to some, but I make no apologies for how we sleep. We get so much joy from lying down with and waking up right next to what we love the most. It may change as the kids grow and seek their independence, but for now, this is what works for us and our family. (Furthermore, from an anthropological standpoint, as mammals, it's alienating, out of the ordinary, and threatening to sleep alone.)
Every day that we can (weather permitting) we go on "nature walks." We set out, the baby in a front pack, with Connor as our guide. We're blessed to live in a hugely safe environment. All around us is housing. During the day when everyone is at work, there is little to no traffic. This base also has a park on every street, sometimes two or three per street. Sometimes he likes to go to the parks, but lately he just likes to wander around and discover nature. Funny story: last week we spotted a bird's nest with babies, on the back porch light of an empty house. Just as I said, "Oh buddy, look"out popped the mom and dad birds on the attack! All the baby birds popped out of the nest on the ground around us. We ran nearly 50 yards before the big birds stopped swooping and screaming at us. It was hysterical, in hindsight! But that's a part of discovering nature, another fleeting concept and even availability in our society. Most of the time he finds things to climb, dig, poke, jump over and have general toddler fun.
Other fun things we have for him to learn and develop are an inside small trampoline and an outdoor, bigger (but no the huge sized) trampoline. His grandpa just made him a wooden play kitchen for his second birthday, too. Nothing but obvious hazards, such as fire, are off limits to him. We just teach him how to use them properly. Today he discovered why mom makes the eggs. He broke one and it went everywhere. Lesson learned, though. He'll learn that skill soon enough too.