Parents of the Montessori children often wonder how to organize their homes to bring Montessori philosophy into their environment. The good news is that you don’t need to redesign your entire house to achieve that goal. Just a few simple adjustments can do the trick.
1. Safety first. While safety is – and always must be – a primary concern, children need to have the freedom to move around and explore in order to learn and discover the world around them. Baby-proof your house to make it safe for your child to do just that. Cover electric outlets, install safety gates and window guards, remove or secure all wires, lock cabinets and closets, and secure bathrooms.
2. Organize your environment. “A place for everything and everything in its place” is one of the most important principles of Montessori philosophy. When each item in your house has a designated place, your child will quickly learn how to be responsible for returning things to where they belong and clean up messes he or she may make.
Children thrive on routine and order. In fact, they need an organized environment more than you may think. A UK study revealed that a chaotic environment was likely to produce bad behavior in children and affect them even more than poor parenting skills.
To create a sense of order, make things more accessible for your child. Store their clothing in lower drawers or baskets, place step stools in the kitchen and bathroom, and arrange their toys and books on low shelves, where your child can easily access them.
3. Define the work/play area. Pick the right area for each activity that you are going to make available for your child. Some activities have to be done in the kitchen or another room with a tile floor that makes it fairly easy to clean up. Others can be done in a family room. There are also outdoor activities, such as throwing a ball, that need to be done outside.
Teach your child which area of their environment works best for each activity and redirect him or her to the right place whenever they make a mistake.
Most children prefer to play on the floor. Use a small rug to define the work/play area for your child.
4. Change things up. Rotate your child’s toys and books every few weeks to encourage curiosity, exploration and creativity and to prevent boredom. Choose the activities based on the season or your child’s current interests.
5. Create a child-friendly bedroom. Get down on the floor and look at the room from your child’s perspective. It needs to be calm, clean and orderly with all the furniture accessible and toys within reach at the right height for your child to enjoy.
Add a small table with kids chairs for mealtimes, snacks and activities. Put a bed mattress on the floor to encourage your child to move from sleeping to playing without your assistance. Keep a safety gate across the doorway to provide a safe designated area for your child to work and play.
The important thing to keep in mind when organizing your house is that the environment you create for your child at home should help him or her become more independent and self-confident.
Create an organized yet interesting environment that will be fun and safe for your child to explore and learn from.