Setting Up Home
When people come to visit a Montessori classroom for the first time, it immediately apparent that it is beauty arranged with the child’s needs in mind.
There principals are easy to apply in the HOME too. We aren’t aiming to have a perfect home, yet we can be intentional in setting up our spaces at home. Also, I often remind that a home with children it’s not a museum or a classroom. So, let’s take things easy.
By applying Montessori principles at home, I feel like it has enabled me to things simpler, have less stuff, and focus on activities the children enjoy. And at the same time, we have learned to live together in a calmer way.
Read about applying Montessori at your home, here.
Not every space has to be child – sized. After all, there are different sized people in our home with different needs. However, it is definitely possible to have a space in each area of our home that is set up for our child to enjoy and feel comfortable.
TIPS FOR SETTING UP MONTESSORI STYLE SPACES
- CHILD SIZED – furniture which the child can manage without help. Look for chairs and tables that are right height to allow their feet to sit flat on the floor. Cut off the legs a bit if necessary.
- BEAUTY IN THE SPACE – art and plants at their height for them to enjoy
- INDEPENDENCE – trays, baskets, and materials set up so they have everything they need at the ready. Look for ways that the child is able to help themselves.
- ATTRACTIVE ACTIVITIES – age – appropriate activities beautifully arranged on shelves rather than in toy boxes, that are inviting them.
- LESS IS MORE – having fewer activities available helps their concentration. Only display the once they’re working to master so the child doesn’t feel overwhelmed.
- A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING AND EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE – this is beautiful reminder as Toddlers have a particularly strong sense of order. When we have a place for everything and everything is in its place, it helps them easily earn where things belong (and where to put them away).
- SEE THE SPACE THROUGH THEIR EYES – get down to the child’s height in each space to see what it looks like from their prospective. We may see some tempting wires, clutter under shelves, or it may feel overwhelming.
- STORE AND ROTATE – look for good storage options. Store most of the child’s activities and rotate the activities on their shelves when they are looking for new challenges.
Let’s have a closer look at the child’s room and see how these principals can be applied.
I don’t have small babies or toddlers at home anymore – my children are 7 and 10 years old now, but I deeply believe that Montessori based principles related to home environment are still possible to adapt in an older age, and actually, by doing that you can help your child to discover his passions, to concentrate on learning and find his space happier to stay in.
Today, I would like to show you my daughter’s room and how and what we adapted for her keeping in mind Montessori principles.
Also, I will show you how to declutter child’s room and I will guide you how easily make place for everything and find the beauty in his space.
General rules for getting rid of clutter
Some people may be thinking “I could never have a house or tidy. We have too many things.” I encourage bringing a couple of boxes into the main area where there are activities (or to the room you want clean up or declutter). Place into one box the things our child is not using very often or things they are finding too difficult. This box can be stored for now and then rotate these activities when they need a new challenge. Place in the second box items that are for younger children that they do not use any more or are too easy – find them a new home or keep them aside for a younger sibling.
Just keep out the few things they are using a lot. It’s about continually finding the right amount of activities to keep our child engaged without holding onto activities that no longer capture their interest.
This will be an ongoing process that will eventually include our child, developing ideas of reusing, recycling, charity, and taking care of our toys with the idea that they can be passed along when we are ready for something new.
For those interested in adopting an even more minimal approach at home, look up Marie Kondo – a Japanese master of tiding up. She recommends only keep things in our home that bring us joy or are useful. Imagine applying the same principle to our child’s activities and clothing.
Montessori bed for smaller kids, is often a floor mattress or toddler bed that the child can climb in and out of by themselves.
My daughter got her adult’s bed as soon as we moved in this house (she was 4 then), because she was big enough to get in and out independently. She slept right away in a normal size bed. We also showed her how to make her bed in the morning, and now it’s her everyday ritual.
A small wardrobe with shelves, drawers, or hanging space that the child can reach. Use a basket with limited choices of season-appropriate clothing to choose from each day.
Store out of season clothing out of reach to avoid potential battles.
Once I reorganized my daughter’s wardrobe following above rules, we immediately stopped morning discussion about what to wear. She can choose from what is available to her at sight and she independently makes her choices of clothing.
A book basket or shelf is an indispensable in every child’s room. I wrote abundantly about what kind of books choose for each age group and how to exhibit books for children, to read more click here.
Few more tips on books:
- Foreword-facing book shelf or ledge so the child can easily see the cover of the books or use a book basket.
- Have only a few books displayed and change the selection as needed.
- To make a cozy place for reading use beanbags, cushions, low chair, or cozy floor mat. Place it by the window as it gives lovely light to read by.
How to organize book corner in children’s room
Choose lovely books to share with children and read aloud often. For children under 6 years old, their understanding is based in the world they see around them.
They love books which reflect things they know from daily life so you have to organize them in appropriate way so they attract their attention.
When there is a small selection of books displayed with the covers on view, it’s just so much more attractive and easy to get the attention of a young child. They can see at a glance what is available. Not only can they see their favorites, they can be enticed to try new ones too.
In a traditional book shelf, you just see the spines. Kids can find the books but it’s more work for them. My daughter’s books shelf allows to organize them in both ways (FORWARD FACING and spine facing). And because she’s bigger now and she has many books, I arrange them like this. See the pictures:
- FORWARD FACING BOOKS
- HORIZONTAL BOOKSHELF
How to organize TOYS? I find the easiest way to organize is to divide toys into categories:
- educational toys that support both cognitive development and motor skills, such as puzzles, sorters or games;
- artistic toys, e.g. paper, glue, crayons, plasticize, paints, etc.;
- toys for play sports, e.g. balls and other sports equipment, wheeled vehicles, pushers;
- building toys, e.g. wooden blocks, Lego and other toys for the development of small motor skills;
- musical toys, i.e. all kinds of instruments;
- toys that imitate everyday activities, that is toys for emotional and social development, and supporting language skills, when the child presents the stories he invented, such as kitchen sets, cars, fire station, animal figurines, plush toys.
Often, despite such a reorganization of toys, there are still too many of them.
Then their turnover works well: some of the toys will be hidden, and after some time will appear again (and others will disappear).
Read more about order and prepared home environment, here.
TABLE and ART CORNER
For smaller children, all you need is a small table and chair, preferably by the window – cut the legs down if needed so the child can put their feet flat on the floor, for example, chair seat height about 20cm and table height around 35 cm for Toddlers.
For bigger kids, school age a normal size table and chair is better choice.
Access to art materials – a small set of drawers with pencils, paper, glue, stamps, collage items.
As the child gets older, we can include access to scissors, tape, and stapler.
For Toddlers, activities can be set out on trays with everything at the ready – for example, one tray for drawing and one for gluing
Around 3 years, the child will start to enjoy collecting things they will need – then we may have a tray they can use to select at materials by themselves from a display.
Choose a fewer but a higher quality art materials.
How to put this mess of art and crafts supplies in order again?
Make tidying away easy:
- Create a place for artwork to dry
- A place for scraps of paper that can be reused
- A place for recycling
Toddlers are mostly interested in the process not the product, so here are some ideas for finished artwork:
- Use office “in-trays” for each child for things they want to keep or come back to.
- Once the trays get full, glue a selection of favorites in a scrapbook.
- Keep a record of artwork that is too bulky to keep by photographing it.
- Re-use as a gift paper.
- Encourage children to work on both sides of the paper.
- Make a gallery to feature some of the child’s artwork, for example, have frames where work is rotated, a string or wire where works pegged up, or magnets on the fridge.
ART & CRAFT AREA
The open shelves are inviting and accessible and the use of trays and containers makes it easy to see what is available, but it needs order.
The colored pencils look attractive set up in color simple DIY glass jars or pencil containers.
Small pots contain beads and thread for threading activities. Materials like washi tape, hole puncher and scissors are at the ready. Marker pens are displayed in one ordered container and paint brushes and water color are also available.
Try answer this question to look for better home for your child and family:
Can we provide:
- Child sized furniture?
- Beauty, like plants and art?
- Attractive activities?
- Less clutter?
- A place for everything and everything in its place?
- Can we see the space through our child’s eyes?
Setting up our home can help to create some calm in our life with our child.
I hope these ideas inspire making a few changes at home today. We can then continue to work on our home gradually making things even more accessible, more attractive and more engaging for our child.