5 easy ways to create Montessori environment at home
I am sure that we all heard that term “Montessori”, some of us may explored the subject in more details, some of us decided to let it go.
When I became a first-time mum, all the methods, principles, do’s and don’ts were quite overwhelming and I felt that there is too much going on. Simply, information overload happened.
First time when I came across term “Montessori” was when we started our research for the nursery (and that was before Amelia was born - crazy!! But, waiting lists over here were actual things). Montessori-here, Montessori-there. So I started doing a bit of a research to know what this is all about.
Let’s start with some history. What does Montessori mean?
In simple terms - this is a method of education. It was developed by an Italian physician Maria Montessori who was looking at the education style in a different way and that was in early 1900s! She was looking into methods that focused on children’s independence, their natural need of exploring and learning without realising they’re doing it. Montessori-based education is very popular among parents for many reasons. A lot of them are based on:
- mixed-age classrooms where younger children can learn from older ones by observing them and learning from their experience
- children can choose their activities
- uninterrupted blocks of work time (three hours long is recommended one)
- “discovery” model where children can learn from working with materials
- specially organised areas of interest, easily accessible by children
We were quite lucky when found our nursery and even though it was not fully Montessori-run, it followed many principles of it and we can see how this has had an impact on our girl’s development and independence, the need to explore, touch and experience.
The question is, what can be done at home to include the method?
Montessori at home: where to start?
While the nursery/pre-school/school setting is out of our hands, we can still incorporate Montessori approach, if we wish to.
I believe the key here, is to follow our own instincts. At the end of the day we, as parents, are the most qualified people to assess what our children need and wold benefit from - there is no pressure, no right or wrong.
We found a couple of easy solutions and really nice ideas that can help with the transformation.
1. Create a safe environment
It’s one of the first tasks that we do the moment our babies starts moving around, let this be stair gates, baby proofing the house in general. Creating areas for exploration using baby gates is a good idea by making sure those babies who are still little are safe but can also play and explore on their own.
For toddlers and pre- and school children, making their bedroom child friendly could be a way forward. One of the examples that are used in the Montessori method is to have a mattress on the floor and age-appropriate toys within their reach. This would encourage them to start sleeping on their own in a room as well as playing without your assistance.
2. Step into their world
One of ways to see how certain things, toys, accessories or even pieces of furniture could work is to see the world from their perspective - literally speaking to be at their height and see the world around. Any piece of artwork, poster, toys, you name it, should be at their level so it’s easier for them to see and reach, and in turn use and explore.
3. Simplify the play space
Very often we end up with so many toys for our children, never-ending gifts from friends and families, and simply gifts from us can be quite tricky when we talk about space. Kids don’t really need that much when thinking about it in more depth so this is why “store and rotate” approach is so handy. This one is the easiest to do and brings the best results - change the toys and activities every couple of weeks - kids will happily play with those ones they haven’t seen in a while, once they are done, put in a box aside, get another one and repeat that whenever you think they need a change.
4. Practical life activities
Kids love being taken seriously and treated as grown ups :) One of the best ways to get them be more independent is to let them do different chores on their own. Yes, it takes longer when sometimes we’re short of time, but hey!! The satisfaction on their faces and feeling proud of they achieved is priceless and far more important! This can be as simple as unpacking shopping bags (I try to avoid the glass items), or making a bed (Amelia is quite good with this one now and she makes our too! She tells us off often), loading washing machine. The list is endless and they can really get into a routine that will become so natural to them.
5. Crafty activities
Scribbling, painting, cutting, gluing, sewing, clay, stamping, drawing! The best thing about this is that we usually have something at home that we can use so kids can start making and creating. Imagination is the key!
Explore Montessori inspired collection of toys and accessories we put together here.
Further reading and sources that you may find useful:
Montessori inspired products