When we became a Montessori family, we committed to bringing Montessori into all aspects of our life. We had the perfect opportunity to execute Montessori in the home when we moved to a new home in October, 2012.
The guiding principles we used were from Maria Montessori herself. She 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.”
To achieve this overarching goal, we used some tips that we learned at school.
1) The space should be safe for the child to move and explore in its entirety
2) The bed should be low to the floor so that the child can get in and out of it by herself
3) Art should be high quality and at eye level for the child
4) Toys and books and other work materials should be organized and on low shelves accessible to the child
5) The child should help create the environment in a way that is pleasing to her.
As we unpacked our things, we allowed Little Jacks to pick objects that she liked from our collection to decorate her room. I was very nervous that we’d have a clashing cacophony of visuals, but surprisingly a beautiful and harmonious theme of her choosing emerged.
We facilitated the design by limiting the toys that were placed in the room to those that she was most interested in. Too much “stuff” could easily lead to clutter and chaos. LJ loves to keep her environment tidy and organized, so we kept the materials as minimal as possible. This was tough because she seemed to endorse every toy as a "favorite."
She also needed the proper tools so that she could utilize the complete environment. That meant stools so that she could reach everything she needed access to, carpeting for the floor for comfortable floor play, and open space for her to do her "works."
Here is the room as it emerged:
Here you can see a wide central space, art area with a stool tucked underneath, book and toy shelves easily accessible to the child, and the low bed with art cards at eye level. You may also notice the little girl in a box. She was building a shower for her guys to use and she wanted to try it out for herself!
Interestingly enough, the bedding, and wall art that she picked all had an African theme. You can tell that she has nicely organized her shelves and toy storage and that she likes to sleep with lots of her guys! You may remember that we chose an expandable Ikea mattress where the sections Velcro together. Right now we have only one section out, which provides more space for play in the room. As LJ grows, her bed will grow with her.
Montessori discourages the use of toy boxes, but ours is mostly used as a bench for children or stuffed animals with some toy storage inside. LJ uses her chair for reading or sometimes for naps. The tapestry is from my time in Thailand. I thought it was a good choice on LJ's part, since it also has elephants in it.
Just as the kids have a “Peace Corner” to calm their bodies in the classroom, we created a similar space in LJ's room. She knows that when she needs to calm herself that she should spend some quiet time on the meditation pillow. It’s not seen as a punishment but instead as a safe space, and it's very effective.
So, that’s the bedroom. I’ll share other Montessori aspects of our house in future installments. Anyone else have a Montessori house?