What did your routine with a Montessori Toddler look like Jo?

I often get people asking what our Montessori day looked like for us. I was looking through my personal blog for something the other day and found a post about our typical day. This was before my son has started youchien (kindergarten), so he would be 3 years old….

What our Montessori at home schedule looked like through the week

We tried to have Montessori mornings three times a week, usually Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. By Montessori mornings, I mean we specifically work with the Montessori materials and work in the 3-hour cycle.

We had most of the Montessori equipment set out upstairs but in the summer it gets too hot up there and in the winter too cold. We didn’t have the space to keep everything downstairs, so what we would do is go up and he would choose what he wanted to work with, then between us, we would bring the materials downstairs.

It was a bit of a faff but it worked OK, it made the work cycle much more obvious, which wasn’t a bad thing. (If you want to know more about the work cycle and why you should implement it, read this post)

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Our typical daily routine of a Montessori toddler

6.20am Wake-up

We got up. We ate breakfast, got washed, and dressed. Then tackled the house jobs. My son helped with the dishwasher and the laundry.

I checked my email and Etsy shop orders and Ebi-kun watched NHK educational programs for a while in Japanese. This was pretty much the only TV he watched. Many of the kids in the park sang the songs and talked about these programs so I let him watch so that he didn’t feel excluded.

The other show he watched was Curious George but we watched that in English.

Putting away the dishes

9.00am The Three Hour Cycle

This is just an example of the work he picked on one particular day.

Start the 3-hour cycle. Get out the weighing scales. I picked these up a while ago at a bargain price of 500 yen since they are wood I was very chuffed but they didn’t come with weights so I made some out of salt dough. 

This was the first time he has worked with them and I don’t think he will really got the concept of weights so we just stuck with heavy, light, and the same. He got that and spent some time experimenting with the scales – as well as trying to pull them apart to see how they work!
He also tried putting other things on the scales too, he was occupied with these for almost an hour.

9.55am Snack Time

Tidied up and then he prepared and ate his snack. He had crackers with cream cheese and milk to drink. This doesn’t sound like a big deal but for a 3-year-old to set out and prepare everything themselves, it takes some time and is a learning exercise in itself. Having it as part of the daily routine of a Montessori toddler is really important for their development at this stage.


Wiped down the table and then tidied everything from snack time away.

Preparing a snack

10.30am More Montessori activitites

He took out the sound pouches and worked through a few of them then he decided he had enough. (How I made the sound pouches here)

Once he put the sound pouches away he got out the balance game, similar to this one. He has gotten much better at taking turns and got excited when one of us was “champion” he had to do a dance no matter who won. He really got into it and played with this for a long time, he went mad when I had to get up to go to the toilet.

Balance Game


The balance game got put away and then he took out the sink or float work and he worked with this by himself whilst I started to prepare lunch. He finished up for lunch at about 12.15pm

I’m not sure how close our mornings were to a 3-hour work cycle in a Montessori school. Somedays he would sit for well over an hour with the same thing, the next day he will get it out for 5 minutes and put it away again. Working on Montessori normalization and following the child is important. As are the parent’s expectations. I would keep a note of the things he engaged with and the things that didn’t so that I could make adjustments to the activities available to him.

As long as he completed the cycle of returning the equipment to the shelf when he has had enough I didn’t worry about how long he worked with it. I suppose sometimes he was just not in the mood or can’t find what he really wanted to do.

Kids also need to move around so sometimes he would take some time out to jump around or roll around on the floor! If he was really antsy I’d suggest something like walking on the line or yoga to help him channel that energy.

Sink or Float

12.30pm Lunch

Lunch. He usually set the table whilst I prepared the food. He was (and still is) a painfully slow eater so we would listen to a podcast and chat whilst he ate.

1.30pm Nap time and my work time

Cleaned up the lunch things. Then after lunch, he’d take a nap, this was my cue to get some work done. I usually had some sewing to do, product photos or creating a new PDF, etc. I’d try and do the jobs that needed my full concentration so I could work uninterrupted.

3.00pm ish Get outside

After his nap, weather permitting we’d usually go outside, either for a walk or down to the park. At that time he was really into collecting things such as petals, leaves, and stones. I seemed to have an endless collection of the in the bottom of my bag!

5.00pm Dinner time

He was ready for his dinner. Being such an incredibly slow eater, I needed to have his dinner ready early or he’d fall asleep when he was eating! Mondays we usually had a muffin tin dinner (if you haven’t done these yet, I highly recommend it!)

Muffin Tin Dinner

6.00pm Wind Down

It was time to wind things down, we’d clean up, which didn’t take long as we used the work cycle and cleaned as we went. If things had gotten a bit crazy-pants then this is the way we cleaned up without tidying tantrums, it works like a charm! Then we’d read some books and talk to my mom on Skype (she is in the UK so it was morning for her). 

7.00pm Bath and Bed

Start the bed and bath routine. It is the Japanese way to have a bath every night and I find it helps the body relax before going to sleep. That said, it sometimes had the opposite effect and ended up in silly water fight madness. The micro routines really helped with keeping everything on track and prevented tantrums and meltdowns.

7.30pm Time to sleep

Story and lights out. I would read a couple of books or a chapter of a chapter book. Then to get off to sleep he liked to listen to Natalie Merchant’s Leave Your Sleep CD, it’s a beautiful album that even adults can enjoy! It was that or Winnie The Pooh on CD.

Then it is my turn for the bath and to eat dinner. Depending on when my husband was planning on getting home I would either wait for him and eat together or I would eat first. I don’t like eating late. I’d also have a bath and sneak a couple more hours of work in.

Working at night doesn’t suit me, I’m a morning person but back then, needs must, and I constantly reminded myself that it wouldn’t be last forever.

This was a pretty typical day up until he started kindergarten. Once he started kindy we would use this routine on the kindergarten holidays too.

On Thursday we would go to the bilingual playgroup, it was 40 minutes by train so took up a good chunk of the day. And Tuesdays we would often meet friends for a playdate.

The daily routine of a Montessori toddler changes over time. Depending on the school day, homeschool, and now hybrid school. If you want to know more about our school journey, this post covers what school in Japan is like from kindy through to junior high and this is about N-school high school, which is a hybrid of homeschool and school and completely different from your regular school.

Now you have seen what the daily routine of a Montessori toddler looked like, you may be wondering what my routine as a work at home looks like now? If you are interested, I have written a post about my schedule as a WAHM here.

If you need help getting into the routine and finding your groove especially so that you can work around the kid’s routines, then come and check out Wonder Mom Success Club. I created it to help moms who are struggling to do all of the things and still have time to work on their business and have time for themselves.