Years ago, I was lucky enough to work at a Montessori pre-school before I went off to college. It introduced me to a philosophy that I become fascinated with and has become a valuable tool for me now that I have child of my own. I try to incorporate it into my 15 month old’s development as much as I can.
One of the most important aspects of Montessori preparing the right environment for them. So when Jack began crawling, I decided to set a Montessori room for him.
So what exactly is Montessori?
As Maria Montessori said, “We must give the child an environment that he can utilize by himself: a little washstand of his own, a bureau with drawers he can open, objects of common use that he can operate, a small bed in which he can sleep at night under an attractive blanket he can fold and spread by himself. We must give him an environment in which he can live and play; then we will see him work all day with his hands and wait impatiently to undress himself and lay himself down on his own bed.”
This type of environment suits many pre-schoolers, toddlers, and even older infants since they enjoy independence, freedom and control within their space.
I’ve come up with some simple ways you can set up a Montessori room in your home that your little one will love.
It’s important to de-clutter the space. Less is more in a Montessori room. Eliminate excess furniture and toys so your child doesn’t get overstimulated or overwhelmed.
Children have sensitive periods, which are stages in a child’s development when they are more responsive to certain stimuli and quicker to learn particular skills. That being said, keeping it simple allows them to focus and learn when working with each toy without getting too distracted. I like to just have a few toys out and switch them out every other week so they don’t get bored.
Keep everything Low
Use shelving that is low so your child can easily access anything they want to work on without needing your help to get it down. Keeping everything at eye level or down low is essential to providing them with a Montessori room that they have independence and control in.
For older children ages 2+ you may want to include a table and chair so they have their own special place where they can play with their toys.
I also like to include a low mirror. This is a great way for them to discover their own body/features. It encourages asking them questions like “where’s jack’s belly? There it is!”
Choose the right toys
Choose toys made of natural materials like wood that inspire natural learning and engagement opposed to plastic toys that make noises and simply provide “entertainment.” I like to include toys that work their fine motor (small muscles) skills that develop the synchronization of hands and fingers with the eyes as well as gross motor (large muscles) skills that develop muscle strength, endurance, balance, coordination and postural control. An area for books and reading is also a must.
A place for everything
Avoid bins full of toys. Each toy deserves a home. This technique is calming for the child since it is predictable, which gives them a better sense of control within their environment.
Make it cozy
Include an area with a big floor pillow and other pillows or stuffed animals that gives them an ears to rest or read books together. Or a comfy chair by a window for an older child.
Include art on the walls
Many children’s rooms have beautiful art or pictures but they don’t get to enjoy them because they are too high up to see. Include art at their eye level so they can enjoy the beauty.
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